Friday, March 31, 2006

Knowledge and the Christian walk

Articles (in contrast?):
Salvation by what [knowledge]?
Use your head

What is the relation between knowledge and the Christian walk? Is Christianity anti-intellectual? In the two articles linked above, we can see the 'contrast', as the first article seems to denigrate knowledge, whereas the second one commands us to use our minds.

Or is it?



Answer: This is of course a false thesis/antithesis pair. With regards to the two articles above, we can see the fine line in the relationship which Christianity has with knowledge or intellectual thought. Christianity is not compatible with 'intellectual knowledge alone', better known as rationalism, as shown in the first article, but neither is it compatible with 'no head knowledge needed', better known as anti-intellectualism, as shown in the second article.

The first article stresses the inability of sole pure intellectual knowedge of any sort to save anyone, let alone the person who promotes it. It is aimed at the philosophy of secular humanism and rationalism in society as a whole, which has helped give rise to the rank liberal 'theo'-logy and rationalism in the churches.

As Christians, we are to repudiate the heresy of rationalism which makes God out to be a liar when He said that the things given to us by God are imparted in 'words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual' , also informing us that 'the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is NOT ABLE to understand them because they are spiritually discerned'. (1 Cor. 1:13-14), and also when Jesus said that 'unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he CANNOT enter into the Kingdom of God.' (Jn. 3:5b)

The second article stresses the importance of having Scriptural knowledge, knowledge of the revealed truth of God as expressed in His Word. Rev. Ken Silva has done a masterful job of deconstructing the Emerging 'church' movement at his ministry website and in this article of his, he shows us the necessity of using our minds to battle the emerging church heresy and the anti-intellectualism prevailing in modern-day (pseudo)-Evangelicalism. The Scriptures tells us to use our minds to love and glorify God (Mk. 12:30) and also tells us to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5b). Furthermore, we are commanded to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).

From the two articles, we can construct a Christian view of knowledge. Pure intellectual knowledge itself is useless and by itself cannot save anyone, as it is NOT spiritual knowledge which can and will lead anyone to Christ, which only God can give by drawing the person to Him (Jn 6:44). Therefore, we do not chase after knowledge for knowledge's sake. Nevertheless, we are to persue knowledge, as in only the knowledge of God as revealed in the Word of God, in order to lead us to an intimate, holistic knowledge of God in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord.

In conclusion, Christianity is rational, neither rationalistic nor irrational. Knowledge is thus important for us Christians, as long as it based on the revealed truth in the Word of God.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

On speaking the truth in love (part 5)

In the previous installment in this series, I have finished discusing the purposes of speaking the truth in love. I would like to carry on with the principles of speaking the truth in love, and then with the practical 'how to' aspects of doing so.

The principles of speaking the truth in love function as the guidelines which we use to evaluate the practical actions which we do. Now, knowing the purposes of speaking the truth in love, we can now easily discern these principles.

The first principle of speaking the truth in love is to ... speak the truth. Since the first two purposes of speaking the truth in love is to be firm in the faith and to be build up and growing in Christ, speaking the truth is very important, as it helps fulfil these purposes Too often than not, many Christians in this modern era overemphasize Christian unity or love to the extent that they do not want to speak out against or even just to give a gentle rebuke to those who are sinning. This not only shows their fear of Man, but also shows their disobedience to God and their wrong theology. This is because the biblical doctrine of Christian unity DOES not act contrary to the biblical emphasis on truth and of speaking the truth to another person; the Bible does not contradict each other. In fact, unity at all costs or unity above truth is unbiblical. Biblical unity is based on the truth that is in Jesus Christ and the Truth that He is. Therefore, we should always endeavor to speak the truth to others, especially to those in the household of faith.

The second principle of speaking the truth in love is to do it in love. This is definitely the most well-known part of the phrase for modern day Christians. However, I would contend that most of these Christians only pay lip service to this aspect of the speaking the truth in love and in fact do not even know what it means. This is probably because they have imported the popular cultural conception of love into their mindset which, perhaps subconsciously, influence their worldview and their theology. Scripture DOES not in any way promote the idea of love that is non-judging (note that I didn't say non-judgmental), lax on discipline, and an 'accept you no matter what you always do and will continue to do' attitude. Biblical love is said to be not rejoicing at wrongdoing and rejoicing with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). It is something which wants the best for the other person (1 Cor. 13:7), and that can only be done via God's truth (which brings us back to principle number 1). Thus, biblical love is 'tough' love, wanting the best for the other person and doing whatever it takes, even reproving or criticizing the other person if it is needed, regardless of whether the other person perceives the goodness of it at that particular moment or he/she doesn't perceive it.

Now, of course, when doing this, not only the motive for doing so must be out of love, the action must also be loving. Love is described in the entire passage of 1 Cor. 13:4-7, where it is stated that we must be patient and kind, not envious, not boastful, neither arrogant nor rude, not irritable, not resentful, willing to help another, believing and hoping the best of another, and enduring all things for another. Of course, this is easier said than done, but this is God's standard upon which we must strive towards, and any time we fall short of it, we must confess our sin and turn back to God (1 Jn. 1:9).

In practice, it is oftentimes hard, if not impossible, to apply all these principles in their fullness. Some of us may 'skew' towards the 'truth' side and others towards the 'love' side. Now, I am here not talking about those who in practice seem to apply either one or the other principle exclusively. I am thus not talking about legalistic preachers who just rant and condemn people who sin ('truth' only), nor am I talking about effeminate pastors who can't even affirm the Gospel like Joel Osteen or people who don't want to share Christ for fear that they will offend their friends (so-called 'love' only). People with these two extremes are definitely not 'speaking the truth in love'. What I am talking about are people who struggle to do both simulataneously without compromising one or the other.

Before we carry on, let me clarify that I am not saying that truth and love are two sides on a balance. Scripture does present the two as coexisting and in fact interlinked. This can be seen in 1 Cor. 13:6 where love involves rejoicing in the truth, and obedience to truth is even said to bring forth love as seen in 1 Peter 1:22. The reason why there is such a thesis-antithesis relationship in some of our minds with regards to truth and love is due to our sin nature, whereby we tend to emphasize on one while neglecting the other, thus it seems that we are skewed towards any one side. When we try to emphasize the other, we tend to neglect the one we have previously emphasized, thus leading to us being 'skewed' towards the other side. The solution, therefore, is to emphasize both aspects (truth and love) equally.

However, how exactly are we to do this in our Christian walk? Are there practical steps we can take to help us know and learn how to speak the truth in love? We will review this in the next and final installment of this series. [to be continued]

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Article: The future of politics without God

This article highlights the utter folishness of politics when build on a foundation which is not of God. The utter naivety of governments of this world in trying to create a viable, just government without God is exposed for what it is — pathetic and hopeless. The sad part is that, without the grace of God, no one can turn to Christ, never mind an entire nation (Btw, I am against Dominionism). Oh well, as Christians, we threfore do not place our trust in politics or in political leaders but in the God who is over all, and through all, and in us all (Eph. 4:6); the God who is sovereign and will draw people to Him as He so pleases to. (Eph. 1:5b-6)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Slain by the power of the Purpose Driven spirit?

In this article, it seems that Pentecostal and Charismatic churches have started to adopt Rick Warren's Purpose Driven model. Judging by the problems with both (Most charismtic churches are associated with the Word-faith heresy and of course the so-called 'New Apostolic Reformation' led by 'Apostle' C. Peter Wagner, whereas the Purpose Driven model has way too many problems), I think we are slowly seeing the convergene of these two deformations (New apostolic and Warren's). Perhaps next time we can have the 'Holy Purpose Driven Spirit Machine Gun', or perhaps 'Purpose Driven laughter'? Or how about 'experiencing our best Purpose driven life now'? Oh well, at least now when Benny Hinn swings his hand, we can be sure that our falling down was due to us being driven/slain purposefully by the Holy Spirit, not randomly as it fomerly was.

(Link: Purpose Driven but Spirit led? at Slice of Laodicea blog)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On speaking the truth in love (part 4)

... so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph. 4:14-16)

In the last installment quite long ago, I have covered the first purpose of speaking the truth in love wihin the community of believers; which is to be firm in the faith. I would like to finish up the rest of the purposes of speaking the truth in love within the community of believes here.

Closely related to being firm in the faith is the idea of being built up and growing in the faith. How can a person be firm in the faith when he doesn't even know what is the faith to begin with? Thus, another purpose of speaking the truth in love is that the person is to be built up in the faith.

This brings us to the next purpose of speaking the truth in love which is to enable the believer to be growing in the comunity of believers. Growth is to be anchored in Christ, and this is to be done through the Church of Christ which is the body of Christ (Col. 1:24). Today in this individualistic, anarchistic age, some Christians may be convinced that they can grow just by themselves (the me with the Bible in the woods syndrome) without being in the fellowship of believers. This could spawn an entire topic, but I disgress, noting that the Bible clearly tell us that we are to grow in maturity in Christ within the community of believers. Suffice it is to say for the moment that this is what the Bible have in mind for us Christians, and that one of the purposes of speaking the truth in love is to help us grow in such a community.

The next two purposes of speaking the truth in love concentrates on the service side or the practical outworking of this in our works before God. The idea of equipping for service contains the idea that speaking the truth in love would cause us to have 'new' tools to be used for the works which God has prepared beforehand for us to do (Eph. 2:10), while the idea of serving our Lord properly emphasize for those of us who are dense that this equipping must be translated into works which we must do (action thus required). As these are purposes of speaking the truth in love, which we shall see later involve speaking the truth which involve doctrines, this show forth the principle that correct doctrine is the necesary instigator of correct action and good works before God (orthopraxis).

Finally, above all these purposes put on love (Col. 3:14). The final purpose of speaking the truth in love is, not suprisingly, to grow in love for our Lord and for the communion of believers. For most of us modern day Christians who may be fed with ridiculously skewed media versions of what love is, to love God and to love fellow believers is NOT to do everything possible to please them, but rather to do what is good for them, whether they like it or not. Of course, to please God is to obey His commands, and the Word of God specifies what is pleasing to God and what is best for us and for our fellow believers alike. Therefore, growing in love for God and for fellow believers necessitate that we likewise grow in knowledge of His Word, and then acting it out in love for God and for our brethren in Christ.

Now after covering these purposes of speaking the truth in love, I would like to discuss the principles and then the method(s) of speaking the truth in love, the practical area in which most people would have trouble applying this biblical injunction.

[Continue in next installment]

Approaches regarding the Da Vinci Code

With the blasphemous Da Vinci Code movie coming up soon, there seems to be a controversy (as usual) regarding the approach to take with regards to the movie. Some Christian apologists like Josh McDowell are asking believers to use this as an evangelism opportunity and even recommanding that Christians see the movie and read the book, while others like Paul Proctor don't agree that dialoguing the Da Vinci Code is a good idea.

For the record, I think that using the Da Vinci Code as an oportunity to share Christ is definitely justifiable and in fact commanded of us. 1 Peter 3:15 commands us to always be ready to give a reason for the hope that we Christians have. However, having said that, I DO not endorse any and every method that seeks justification using this verse, but I digress. With regards to the Da Vinci Code blasphemy, we should present a positive proclaimation of the truth of the deity of Christ and the inerrancy and infallibility, and authority, or Scripture, while 'deconstructing' the pathathic lies Dan Brown and company have spun. With regards to Josh McDowell's advice, I agree that we Christians should use the Da Vinci Code as an evangelistic oportunity. However, I TOTALLY disagree with his recommandation that we should read the book or worse, watch the movie. Why should we contribute to Dan Brown's fortune? Furthermore, are we trying to participate in the hegelian dialetic which the world wants us to? I agree with Paul Proctor that this movie is NOT going to make unregenerate men regenerate, nor is it going to make true believers non-Christians, since for the latter God is the one who preserve His elect (Jn. 6:37) and for the former, it is only by the Spirit of God working though the hearing of the Word of God that creates faith in the individual (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, our apologetic is only to positvely proclaim the truth of Christ and using the interest created by the movie as a stepping stone for the proclaimation of the Gospel; nothing more, nothing less, and definitely not expecting some revival due to our having 'related' to the people with this movie.

Anyway, I am going to boycott the movie. As for the book, I would rather borrow it if needed to. However, since many peple have read it and critiqued it, like that done by Dr. James R. White referenced below, I think I do not need to read it, and the critique done by Dr. White should more than suffice.

Link: Da Vinci Code resource

Addenum: One good thing which I think God will use this blasphemous book and movie to do is to remove some of the weeds growing in the Lord's harvest field. For that, I am thankful. (No) thanks to the arch-heretic Charles Finney for introducing easy-believism and the heresy of decisional regeneration which plagued modern evangelical churches, and definitely no thanks to people like Bill Hybels with his seeker-sensitivity model or Rick Warren with his Purpose Driven® model who are destroying churches from the inside out.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Discernment logo

Ingrid Schlueter from the Slice of Laodicea blog has brought to attention the new discernment logo designed by Keith Oliver from the Thinkerup blog. I think I would be using it too.