The Problem with the American Evangelical Model

By jreighley - Last updated: Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is that it brings the “Case for Christ” before the “seeker” and then calls for him (or her) to pass judgement on God.

This approach leaves the “seeker” sitting on the exact throne that he needs to get off of.  This system then applauds him (the seeker)  for fulfilling his sinful role.  (Judging God)

But really, it is God who sits on the throne.  His light reveals his truth about us.  We are the proposition to be tested, He is not.   At our heart of hearts we know that we are deceiving ourselves into thinking we are okay.   God illuminates our lies, and calls us out of our lies and into truth.  God is Truth.  He is not a proposition.

And if you get this wrong  —  If you portray this wrong, you are not portraying God accurately.  It is like we point a flashlight at the wall, point to it and ask the seeker “This is what the light of God is like, Do you like??”  When the light of God is more like the Sun.  It isn’t even comparable.  It isn’t the same thing.  God doesn’t have a switch.  He illuminates everything.  You can’t point him.  The person who accepts the flashlight has not necessarily accepted the Sun.

I am fairly certain that is what is broken.   Thankfully, God is almighty enough to overcome our bad methods.   He saves sinners in spite of our inadequate efforts.  It is a miracle.   And a miracle it should be.

Update:   I further explain and clarify this topic here.

 

 

 

Filed in Christianity, Doctrines of Grace, Freedom

Mr Camping is wrong, and if you keep it up, you will be too!

By jreighley - Last updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Of course the buzz of the world is Harold Camping’s failed rapture prophecy about last weekend.

I think that Mr Camping did sincerely believe what he believed.  I don’t think he made all of this hullabaloo to make a name for himself or anything of that sort.  He had a theory, he searched the bible for evidence in support of that theory.  He found so much evidence of what his itching ears wanted to hear, that he believed it was irrefutable and “Guaranteed”

That is the danger of eisegesis.  This is the practice of reading your own idea into the scripture.  You search for what you want to hear and ignore all the evidence to the contrary, and you get exactly what you want to hear.

On my trips down to California, I hear it on the Calvary Chapel radio stations all of the time.  A preacher will be preaching through Revelation, and he will say something like this:  ” Do you see what it doesn’t mention here?  It doesn’t mention the Church.  You know why?  Well, this shows that  by this point, the Church has been raptured, and is no longer on the earth”

Really?  Perhaps it doesn’t mention the Church because it doesn’t mention the Church?

Yes, a skilled orator can make an argument for his viewpoint out of absolutely nothing.   And to the undiscerning ear that shares the viewpoint doesn’t even see what is happening..  They just have their faith magnified, despite the absolute lack of evidence.

The critics of Mr. Camping annoy me  because they do the same thing in rebuttal.   Everyone goes to Matthew 24:36 Where Jesus says “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only”   Yes it is nice to have a verse in support of your case..  But it is dangerous to take Jesus’ warning that “no one knows” (now) and turn it into “No one knows” (ever).   Especially when a few verses back in verse 33 says “So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.”

Prooftexting will always be a sure-fire method of strengthening your faith in whatever you want to believe.

If you want to challenge Mr. Camping you must go deeper than that.   Is Mr. Camping’s argument based on scripture?  Yes.  Did Christ have the same scripture?  Yes.  (For the most part)    Did Christ know the date?  No.  (Now we can use Matt 24:36)  Is Mr. Camping a better biblical scholar than Christ?  No.  So that leaves us with the New Testement verses that Mr. Camping cites.  Do they really say what he is saying they are saying?  Or is he making them say what he wants them to say?    Well that is up to discussion.  I tend to think that if the flood was a seven day warning and 7 days was 7000 years, Christ would have known.

Mr Camping was wrong.  Sincerely wrong.  If the rest of the Christian church uses his same methods, they too will be sincerely wrong.

 

Filed in Christianity, Eschatology • Tags: , , ,

Cover Song or Original?

By jreighley - Last updated: Monday, May 16, 2011

It occurred to me that our walk with God is a lot like an improvisational Jam session.    God calls us to some form of obedience, and we respond according to our particular personality, courage and faith.

Sometimes we do something exactly like he is calling us to.   Sometimes we only take a half step instead of a full one.  Sometimes we negotiate by doing something else that is kinda like what we are being asked to do.    God then responds with more beautiful music..  Be it gentle discipline, encouragement or celebration.   If we ignore him altogether, often God plays the same convicting notes over and over until we respond.

One of the dangers that comes with a lot of the Christian literature and teaching out there today is that it tries to provide us with a script — a few pages of sheet music that we can use to respond to God.  While the music may be good, we need to be careful that we are not playing a cover song of James Dobson, Dave Ramsey or Bill W..   Their song may be a good source of wisdom and may be totally sound biblical advice, but we need our song to be our song.

Moreover, Good wisdom is a distraction if it isn’t rooted in and subservient the Gospel.  We don’t follow Jesus to get a stronger family, financial peace, or liberation from addiction.  We get a stronger family, financial peace and liberation because of Jesus, who he is, and what he did for us.

It is the Gospel that changes everything, not some set of behaviors that we can follow like an actor reading a script.

So,  are you playing a cover song? Or an original?  Is your song a duet in response to God? or are you playing response songs totally irrelevant to his call?

 

 

Filed in Christianity, Freedom, Parenting, Politics • Tags: , , , ,

From my “Ask anything Link”

By jreighley - Last updated: Thursday, April 14, 2011

You know what is really interesting?  Near Death Experiences (NDE).  What do you think of the reports of people who died and then came back (i.e. were resusitated)?

I take these reports with a grain of salt. The Apostle Paul claimed to have experienced such a thing, and I tend to believe him.(2 cor 12:2) But there are many others who claim such a thing and I think they are full of poop. The devil usually has a good counterfeit for anything real. So the fact that somebody has an experience does not necessarily mean that they have the truth. So, I would not necessarily dismiss such reports, but I would certainly compare them to scripture and use discernment.

Ask me anything

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This battle is not yours but God’s.

By jreighley - Last updated: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Studied and taught 2 Chronicles 20 this weekend….  Sorry, but there is no audio   (Evil cellphone recorder failed me.)

I used to love that story.   Then I tried to teach it, and I love it less.

The gist of the story is that a massive army is approaching Judah, and King Jehosaphat and the nation prays to God, remembering His promises, and calling on Him to fulfill them.   They get the following response:

And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”
(2 Chronicles 20:15-17 ESV)

God’s people remembered His promises to them.  The called on Him and the response they got was “the battle is not yours but God’s”

Certainly there are a lot of biblical examples of God’s people trying to accomplish His promises on His behalf.   Abraham and Hagar tried to fulfill God’s promise.   Jacob and Rebecca tried to connive God’s promise into fruition by lying to Isaac.

None of these human efforts thwarted God’s promises,  but they did make some mighty impressive messes.

I do wonder if a deeper understanding of theology would lead us to a place where we recognized that most of life’s battles where our attempts to gain something that God promised to give anyway?   Perhaps we are assuming that the call to the battlefield is a call to arms, when it may be a call to spectate.   God wants us to see what He is doing.

The call to spectate is a call to worship.   It isn’t entirely passive.   We have to take our eyes off of our idol and place our eyes on God.   He calls us to witness.. That means we love as He loved.  We forgive as He forgave, we provide generously for others has He has provided generously for us.  But it isn’t our battle, it is His.  We get to watch and cheer in worship.

My thesis for the talk was that many of life’s battles do not actually belong to man, but the belong to God.   We are not called to fight — That is legalism.   We are not called to surrender — That is antinomianism.   We are called to worship.    We let go of our idols and see what God puts in their place.   Victory is found in worshiping the God that makes the impossible possible.

Too often we boil our theology down way too far.   “God is Love” or “God has a plan for your life” are true, but they are by no means complete.   If we understand God’s promises, we will understand which battles belong to God, and that will give us peace.

 

Filed in Christianity, Doctrines of Grace • Tags: , , , ,

Will Jon Jones humility fail him?

By jreighley - Last updated: Friday, March 25, 2011

I have enjoyed the rise of Jon Bones Jones in the MMA world.. I think I have watched every one of his UFC fights. The doubters have been loud, but the doubters have always been wrong.. Now he sits as the UFC light heavyweight champ, and the doubters have moved their doubts from his fighting capability to his marketability. This article sums it up pretty well

The article contends that you need three things in order to succeed as a MMA revenue draw. I will address those contentions below.

1. Bad Boy Presence

Jones is not a bad boy outside of the ring. He is pretty definitively the opposite, and goes out of his way to be such. What is going to make Jones great isn’t that he is going to be popular within the current fan base. He is going to be successful by expanding the fan base to the non-bad-boy market. Kinda like Tiger Woods expanded the market for Golf to the non-old-fogey market.  I am sure that Michael Jordon expanded the market for the NBA as well.

Secondly, Actions speak louder than words. And nobody can say that this guy is not a bad boy.

I think the Shogun fight probably doubled the length of his highlight reel.

2: The Ultimate Fighter
I don’t buy it. Sure it has made some stars. But I don’t think GSP was hurting for PPV buys before he went on the show. Moreover, if Dana White thinks it will help – Jon Jones will be on TUF.

3: Feuds
Jon Jones doesn’t need to make feuds of his own. The feuds will come to him. Case 1, Rashad Evans. Everyone is trying to blame Jon Jones for the fact they are fighting. I don’t think the defending champ should take a lot of leeway to turn down fights. If Jon Jones where only to defend his belt against people who he thinks he can beat, and he can pick and choose – then he may very well not be the champ at all.. Rashad Evans is the one who wants the belt, and he is the one who had the leeway to turn down the fight. If anyone knows how to beat Jones, it will be his training partner, Rashad.

Finally, if you where to read through the comments, you will see a significant disdain for Jones’s “Faux Humility” As a Christian, I find this reaction quite interesting, because it should apply to all of us.

Jones’ humility is an interesting case study, and it will be interesting to see if he can maintain it. Jon Jones knows that his 8 ‘4 reach and his 6′ 4 frame is not the work of Jon Jones. He understands that that is why in large part he keeps winning. He gives credit to God with every win. He gives credit to his coaches, and he gives credit to his family. He is by no means close to a perfect human being, but neither are the “bad boys” who are mocking him.

I love the videos where he talks about his need to beat the weakness out of himself. This is what true Christian humility is. It isn’t lack of confidence. It is acknowledging the source of your strengths (God), the source of your weaknesses (sin), and submitting to the idea that your weaknesses need to be put to death.

Anyway, there are still legitimate doubts about weather Jon Jones is ready for all of this. Rashad Evans may very well be able to show the world how to beat Jones. (something nobody else has ever been able to come close to demonstrating) But I bet all of the MMA fans are going to want to see his next fight — and perhaps some non MMA fans. My wife is interested in watching him, for what that is worth.

Filed in Christianity, Sports • Tags: , , , , ,

Where do the Parenthesis go?

By jreighley - Last updated: Thursday, March 24, 2011

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that many Christians blindly support the secular state of Israel, and that this position ignores quite a bit of scripture.

The obvious retort is to go to Genesis 12:3 and point out that God’s Promise says “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse”

My response is “who is you?” The answer is Abraham. Much of the controversy between Jesus and the Pharisee’s dealt with Jesus linking back to the promises made to Abraham. The Pharisees loved the promises to Moses, but they where a little less keen on the promises to Abraham. All of the promises made to Abraham also applied to the nation of Israel, as they where a subset of Abraham’s offspring.. But in the very same verse Gen 12:3 the promise continues “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” God’s promise to Abraham was for Israel, but it was also for all of the peoples of the earth.

All of the people of the earth are blessed through Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate owner of the promise “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse” This isn’t “replacement theology” as some would like to demonize it. God’s promises to Moses where generally conditional. God’s promises to Abraham where not. On a corporate level, the nation of Israel failed to keep it’s side of the Mosaic covenant, and as such, God’s promises are coming true for them. More on the curse side than the blessing side, unfortunately for them.

Thankfully however, the Abraham covenant was on a personal level, not a corporate level. Everyone who by faith submits to the rightful king is a inheritor of the promises to Abraham. (Romans 4) So there is neither Jew nor Greek in the kingdom of God. It is open to all who profess faith.

The book of Romans chapters 9-11 does indicate that the nation of Israel will come back to faith in the end. I don’t think we are there yet.

Filed in Christianity, Eschatology, Politics • Tags: , , ,

Sarah Palin made me shudder.

By jreighley - Last updated: Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yes, I know some people shudder every time she opens her mouth. I am not typically one of them. I see her as the presidential decoy. She takes all of the potshots for 3 1/2 years to clear the way for a guy like Tim Pawlenty to take the nomination. (Much like Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2008 election cycle) Her job is to bait the liberals into being irrationally agitated so that the mainstream of the country considers the liberals to be out of touch and delusional. She is doing a pretty darn good job of it. This role does spend your credibility however, and makes you seem nonviable in the general election.

Sarah visited Israel and provided the following quote:

“”Israel is absolutely beautiful and it is overwhelming to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith and I am so grateful to get to be here,” “

It may seem like a small error of semantics, but I think it is a very big one. “the cornerstone of our faith” refers to one thing. Jesus. The Cornerstone is the foundation for everything, everything is measured in relation to the Cornerstone, and it’s plumb line is the arbitrator between good and evil. (Isaiah 28:16-19)

To call something else “the cornerstone of our faith” is wrong. Particular when today’s pop-eschatology tend to make Israel the plumb-line, and consider anyone who questions the actions of the secular state of Israel to be un-Christian.

Jesus word’s in the The Parable of the wicked tenants called out Israel for rejecting the “Cornerstone”, and attached consequences to their actions.

Blindly supporting Israel is also blindly ignoring scripture. That doesn’t mean that Israel lacks any legitimacy — It just means that their possession of the land has always been tied to their obedience to God. The long term prospects of a disobedient secular Israeli government will be about the same as they have always been. Not good.

FYI – I taught a few years ago on the importance of “The Cornerstone” The audio is here:
Liferoads SNT: Acts 4

Filed in Christianity, Eschatology, Politics • Tags: , , ,

I keep digging found this:

By jreighley - Last updated: Friday, March 11, 2011

Filed in Uncategorized

Just to Annoy Kylan

By jreighley - Last updated: Friday, March 11, 2011

After watching this prophetess predict the  earthquakes in Japan.

I have decided that perhaps Harold Camping is right after all.  (link expires 5/22/11 so click while you can)

Not really.

 

Filed in Eschatology, Technology • Tags: , , , , , , ,