Saturday, February 28, 2009 5 reasons to study theology

My friend Nathan has an interesting article on five reasons why we should be studying theology. It has constantly amazed me how people can claim to love God without wanting to know more of and about Him. Imagine a wife saying she loves her husband but wants to know nothing about him... ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Misquoted verses: 2 Chron. 7:14

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chron. 7:14)

In teachings on the topic of prayer and intercession, the verse 2 Chron. 7:14 is often quoted as a proof text. From the text, it has been taught that if we as Christians (i) humble ourselves, (ii) pray, (iii), seek God's face, and (iv) turn from our wicked ways, then God will (1) hear us, (2) forgive our sins, and (3) "heal our land". Coming from a Third-wave charismatic background, I was taught to do these 4 steps especially during major prayer and fasting events, with the unspoken assumption that doing so would ensure that our prayers would somehow be more effectual and pleasing to God. The third promise of the healing of the land is furthermore claimed over our nation especially in the 40 days of prayer event leading up to National Day, in which we were to pray for revival to come upon our country, with some fanciful prophecies being prophesied during that time period even.

Nearly a decade later, I have the opportunity to revisit this verse. Does this verse actually teaches such principles of prayer?

As a Covenantal Theologian, it is my belief that the principles taught in the Old Testament are in some manner applicable to us today, since Israel is the Church in the Old Testament. 2 Chron. 7:14 is situated in God's promise to Solomon after his prayer to God in his dedication of the temple, and it is in this context that we must interpret this verse. Being God's promise to King Solomon under the Old Testament era, the conditions and promises are to be interpreted in a different manner in this Gospel age, which imply that their application is spiritual, for the Church rather than for some nation or territory. The conditions and promises are centered on the church and Christians in the church, not even Christianized nations per se. Therefore, to use 2 Chron. 7:14 as a proof-text to pray for the nation is not in line with the teaching of God's Word in this regard. The only way it could be "literally" physically applied in such manner is if one were to believe in some form of Israelism or one is a Old Covenant restoring Judaizer.

What then does 2 Chron. 7:14 actually teach? 2 Chron. 7:14 is a promise to the Church that lays down the general principles that God requires in prayer: that we should (i) humble ourselves, (ii) pray, (iii), seek God's face, and (iv) turn from our wicked ways, following which God has promised that He would (1) hear us, (2) forgive our sins, and (3) "heal our land". God will most definitely hear us, but hearing does not necessarily mean saying yes to us. After all, God is sovereign and His sovereign will will be done. The idea that having longer and more fervent prayers would make the prayer more efficacious and pleasing to God is an act of sorcery — ex opere operato. We must remember that God in Ez. 14:12-20 has said that he will not answer yes to the prayers and intercession of even the three most righteous persons in history when he has decided to punish Judah for her heinous sins, so to think that our prayers can manipulate God is unbiblical. God does sometimes ordain that certain prayers be answered after perseverance in prayer (Lk. 18:1-8), but such prayers is a time of pleading before God, not attempts to "blackmail" God because of the amount of time we have spent in prayer.

The promise of forgiveness of sin in this Gospel age (and even in the Old Testament era) was never to be taken to mean sins being forgiven through the instrumentality of prayer. Rather, it must be interpreted in the same way as the principle of forgiveness of sins in 1 Jn. 1:9, which is to say an experience of an established reality proving the genuineness of that same reality. In simpler terms, what this means is that true born-again Christians who have their sins forgiven will by nature confess their sins and pray to God in so doing. Such activities confirm that the ones practicing them have their sins forgiven, and the Holy Spirit uses such activities to bring peace and the sense of forgiveness within their hearts.

The third promise of the "healing of the land" is to be taken spiritually in the sense of spiritual healing of the individual and of the church. Prayer and fasting in this verse therefore profits the individual believer and the Body of Christ. As the Body of Christ comes together to pray, she is the one being edified first and foremost.

This brings us to the question: Does that mean that we shouldn't intercede for the nations and for all who are outside the Church? By no means! Such however cannot claim 2 Chron. 7:14 as a proof-text, but rather texts such as Gen. 18:23-33 and 1 Tim. 2:1-4. Prayers for nations etc if they are to be biblical must be for God's mercy and withholding of deserved judgment, for God to save people (not nations, but individual persons) in the nations out of darkness into His glorious light, and for God to grant peace so that the Gospel ministry may not be hindered. In other words, these should be the focus of our prayers if they are to be biblical; Gospel-centered prayers. If we pray for other issues such as the material prosperity of our nation and other such stuff not instructed in the Scriptures, then we are not praying according to Scripture. God may very well choose to answer them with a yes answer, but he is certainly not obliged to and such is not praying even according to God's decretal will and are therefore unbiblical.

In conclusion, let us learn the proper interpretation and application of 2 Chron. 7:14. May we not use it therefore for so-called "national intercession", much less invoking the verse to ask for material prosperity of a nation at the expense of asking God to grant repentance and faith to people in the nation. Amen.

Misquoted verses: Jn. 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (Jn. 3:16)

Ούτως γαρ ηγαπησεν ό θεος τον κοσμον, ώστε τον υίον τον μονογενη εδωκεν, ίνα πας ό πιστευων εις αυτον μη αποληται αλλ εχη ζωην αιωμιον. (Jn. 3:16)

John 3:16 is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. From a beautiful text that teaches the love of God in saving sinners, the synergists have made it into a proof-text for the universal love of God towards all and every sinner, even to the unrepentant reprobate.

In this video, Dr. James White shows through exegeting the verse itself that John 3:16 does not teach universal saving love. Rather, from the Greek πας ό πιστευων (pas ho pisteuon), the phrase that is translated "whosoever believes" in many English versions is actually better translated "all the believing ones [who continue believing]" or "all those with saving faith". There is no Greek word for "whosoever", and the term πας which can be translated as "all" is a modifier for the participle ό πιστευων. Therefore, the group of people indicated by πας is restricted by the phrase it is modifying, and not indicative of every single person in this world at all. John 3:16 does not thus teach a form of universal redemption in any sense, as even the context makes it clear:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (Jn. 3:16-18. Bold added)

It is simply illogical to believe that God has a universal saving love for all men, and simultaneously to believe that there are still men who remain condemned, if God is truly omnipotent and unchanging.

John 3:16 can be better translated as follows:

For God loved the world in this way: that He gave his only unique Son, that all the believing ones should not perish but have eternal life.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Satire: If Galatians was a contemporary article published by CT

The Sacred Sandwich has came up with an interesting satirical article showing the highly possible comments Christians nowadays would have if the book of Galatians is published today. From the letters to the editors section in the February 2009 issue of the flagship New Evangelical magazine Christianity Astray Today:

Dear Christianity Today:

In response to Paul D. Apostle’s article about the Galatian church in your January issue, I have to say how appalled I am by the unchristian tone of this hit piece. Why the negativity? Has he been to the Galatian church recently? I happen to know some of the people at that church, and they are the most loving, caring people I’ve ever met.

Phyllis Snodgrass; Ann Arbor, MI


Dear Editor:

How arrogant of Mr. Apostle to think he has the right to judge these people and label them accursed. Isn’t that God’s job? Regardless of this circumcision issue, these Galatians believe in Jesus just as much as he does, and it is very Pharisaical to condemn them just because they differ on such a secondary issue. Personally, I don’t want a sharp instrument anywhere near my zipper, but that doesn’t give me the right to judge how someone else follows Christ. Can’t we just focus on our common commitment to Christ and furthering His kingdom, instead of tearing down fellow believers over petty doctrinal matters?

Ed Bilgeway; Tonganoxie, KS


Dear CT:

I’ve seen other dubious articles by Paul Apostle in the past, and frankly I’m surprised you felt that his recurrent criticisms of the Church deserved to be printed in your magazine. Mr. Apostle for many years now has had a penchant for thinking he has a right to “mark” certain Christian teachers who don’t agree with his biblical position. Certainly I commend him for desiring to stay faithful to God’s word, but I think he errs in being so dogmatic about his views to the point where he feels free to openly attack his brethren. His attitude makes it difficult to fully unify the Church, and gives credence to the opposition’s view that Christians are judgmental, arrogant people who never show God’s love.

Ken Groener; San Diego, CA


To the Editors:

Paul Apostle says that he hopes the Galatian teachers will cut off their own privates? What kind of Christian attitude is that? Shame on him!

Martha Bobbitt; Boulder, CO


Dear Christianity Today:

The fact that Paul Apostle brags about his public run-in with Peter Cephas, a well-respected leader and brother in Christ, exposes Mr. Apostle for the divisive figure that he has become in the Church today. His diatribe against the Galatian church is just more of the same misguided focus on an antiquated reliance on doctrine instead of love and tolerance. Just look how his hypercritical attitude has cast aspersions on homosexual believers and women elders! The real problem within the Church today is not the lack of doctrinal devotion, as Apostle seems to believe, but in our inability to be transformed by our individual journeys in the Spirit. Evidently, Apostle has failed to detach himself from his legalistic background as a Pharisee, and is unable to let go and experience the genuine love for Christ that is coming from the Galatians who strive to worship God in their own special way.

William Zenby; Richmond, VA


Kind Editors:

I happen to be a member of First Christian Church of Galatia, and I take issue with Mr. Apostle’s article. How can he criticize a ministry that has been so blessed by God? Our church has baptized many new members and has made huge in-roads in the Jewish community with our pragmatic view on circumcision. Such a “seeker-sensitive” approach has given the Jews the respect they deserve for being God’s chosen people for thousands of years. In addition, every Gentile in our midst has felt honored to engage in the many edifying rituals of the Hebrew heritage, including circumcision, without losing their passion for Jesus. My advice to Mr. Apostle is to stick to spreading the gospel message of Christ’s unconditional love, and quit criticizing what God is clearly blessing in other churches.

Miriam “Betty” Ben-Hur; Galatia, Turkey


EDITOR’S NOTE: Christianity Today apologizes for our rash decision in publishing Paul Apostle’s exposé of the Galatian church. Had we known the extent in which our readership and advertisers would withdraw their financial support, we never would have printed such unpopular biblical truth. We regret any damage we may have caused in propagating the doctrines of Christ.

Allow me to add one more possible feedback:

Dear Editor,

I agree that it is not right of some of the Jews to impose their views on the Galatian church, but it seems that Paul Apostle is unduly harsh in his criticism. Especially when he insinuates that they are preaching a false gospel and recommending that they should undergo castration. Who is he that he should be made the authority on who is or is not a true Christian? After all, he is not even one of the twelve and yet have the cheek to place himself above Cephas, a dear brother in the Lord.

Paul Apostle does a good job in hiding behind his pen, but that doesn't make him right on everything. After all, is he an authority on Cephas or the Judaizers? Where is the proof for his so-called apostle-ship anyway? In case you dimwits have forgotten, he was busy persecuting us Christians in the time following our Lord's resurrection and Pentecost, so why should we listen to him now?

Since the Jewish missionaries have arrived, the churches of Galatia have been growing by leaps and bounds as multitudes turn to Christ. I personally know of a pagan friend who was previously hostile to the Christian faith but have since through their ministry accept Christ. A few of my former Gnostic friends have similarly renounced their Gnosticism because of their evangelistic efforts. Who is Paul Apostle to attack the work of the Lord? Even Cephas and the others of the twelve have not condemned the Jewish missionaries from Jerusalem with such manifest hatred as Paul Apostle, who evidently just loves nothing better to see these godly Jewish missionaries burn in hell!

Paul Apostle's brain is about the size of a pea sometimes and it's about as narrow as one also in his category of Christianity. I believe in many cases he is neither pastoral submitted in many of his writings nor humble enough to do so.

Please remove me from your mailing list as I am sick of seeing godly ministers and their work attacked. I have no wish to read more of the gossip Paul Apostle writes regarding other godly ministers.

Kamin Netashin, Lystra, Turkey

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Article: Sanitization or Sanctification

Here is a good article by Pastor Bob DeWaay.

Sanitization or Sanctification?
By Bob DeWaay

A reader phoned me recently and explained how he has seen churches depart from Bible teaching only to institute various programs for better living. He made an intriguing statement: "These programs do not sanctify, they sanitize." And he was absolutely right about that. Let me unpack that idea and show from Scripture that this is the case.

It is possible to use human wisdom and good advice programs in order to help people achieve better living. It is possible to get an alcoholic sober, an abusive husband to be considerate and caring, a compulsive gambler to quit, a person driven to make money at the expense of family to change priorities, and to help an unhappy person become happy. All of this can be done without any special work of grace. In fact, it can be done without religion at all.

I once heard a debate between two college professors, one an atheist and the other a Christian. Toward the end of the debate the atheist made an interesting statement. He said, "You do not need a god or religion to have a good, happy life. I have been happily married for many years, have wonderful children and grandchildren, live a moral life, and could not ask for anything more from life. I do not need religion and neither do you." Sadly, many Christians have so redefined Christianity that they would not know how to respond to such a statement. It is true that many people lead happy, relatively moral lives without God. But what they cannot obtain is right standing before the Holy God who created the universe.

When Christianity is reduced to a "better-living-through-religion" program it does not offer anything that some atheists (like the one in that debate) already have. It is telling when churches fill up their docket with seminars designed to help people solve life problems through general revelation. General revelation is available to all through the normal means of knowing. All societies have their own aphorisms which they pass along-their collective "good advice." It is not a sin to give people good advice gleaned from general revelation, but neither is to confuse that advice with Christ's mandate: "Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you" (Matthew 28:20a).


Interesting exchange on the Seeker religion by Lane Chaplin

Lane has posted a very interesting exchange he has had with a person attending his former Purpose-Driven church. The exchange looks eerily familiar — just substitute the names and it is fits any number of exchanges I have had with the New Evangelical Seeker-sensitive, PD or charismaniac, Word-faith folks.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Contra Celebrity Christianity

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt. 20:20-28)

The Church is the Body of Christ, and the pastors/elders within her are to be worthy of double honor even as they preach the Word of God (1 Tim. 5:17). As the Lord sees fit, there will always be people who are exceptionally gifted with the gift of biblical prophecy and teaching, and as such would stand out above the others.

In modern day Christianity, the Lord has given such talents to certain individuals and have blessed their ministry and influence for the Lord. Such people include Pastor John Piper, Pastor John MacArthur and others like them. Others like Tim Challies may not be pastors, but the Lord has given them gifts of writing etc which are used to edify the Body of believers.

Now, it is certainly natural to admire such people, and to want to follow them even as they follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). Yet, there is most certainly a danger here which we must look out for.

What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:12-13)

Celebrity Christianity, or the elevation of various gifted individuals especially pastors/elders to star-studded status, is a most pernicious error in this time of ours. As a great apostasy is happening within the churches of America, while most churches elsewhere are in varying stages of error and decay, even relatively good pastors shine in the midst of the growing darkness. Heretics of course "shine", but that is another issue altogether (cf 2 Tim. 4: 2-5).

The growth of the popularity of certain preachers of God's Word to cult-like status is certainly one of very much concern. When we imbue a pastor with characteristics that are more suited for God, we have committed idolatry indeed. The phenomenon of growing fanclubs of popular pastors (be they John Piper, John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll or heretics such as Joseph Prince) may not a very good sign for the Church. Typical of fans, in some Christians there is an almost unquestioning following of their "idol", coupled with an inability to accept criticism of the person. If a criticism be warranted, it must be offered with kids' gloves and with tons of caveats and positive praise for the person, otherwise woe to the person offering the criticism.

It is this aspect of celebrity Christianity which is disturbing to me especially when I see it in action. Is there any person, any pastor and elder who is infallible? Is any person perfect? Why then are we so quick and willing to defend our favorite preacher instead of examining everything according to Scripture? Are we worshipping God, or Piper or Driscoll or whichever minister you love? Shouldn't we be focused on Christ, not on our particular favorite preacher, no matter how much God has used them?

Sadly to say, the pragmatism rampant in yesterday's Evangelicalism has continued on to this day. People like Mark Driscoll have won accolades for reaching thousands for Christ, and as such have been granted de facto immunity from criticism in the mind of many Christians. The numbers games it seems still continue even to this day. Yet, Christians who desire to follow Scripture rather than the opinions of men, no matter how godly, know the ultimate authority is God and His Word, and that takes precedence over the opinion and teachings and "fruits" of any and every pastor, and numerical growth of the church. Nobody is exempt from criticism, including I, but all must submit to the authority of Scripture and of Christ.

In conclusion, Celebrity Christianity as a phenomenon is antithetical to biblical Christianity. It is indeed most troubling that some people have fallen for it, and this has resulted in splits within the Body of believers instead of being united in Christ. May we recognize this error for what it is, and avoid it like the plague. Do honor godly men, but never idolize them and treat them as if they will never makes mistakes at all, not to mention putting them above legitimate biblical criticism. Amen.

Friday, February 13, 2009

On the concept of New [Evangelical] Calvinism (Briefly)

I have been using the term Neo-Calvinism rather recently, and it has been a rather nebulous word so far. So, in brief, here is a working definition of the term, of which I will post a more detailed article on it later.

Neo-Calvinism aka The Calvinist Resurgence aka "Young, Restless, Reformed" (sociology):

A sociological movement consisting of younger Christians rediscovering the Doctrines of Grace aka Calvinism

Neo-Calvinism (theological movement):

Neo-Evangelicalism in Calvinist dress

So, in that respect, I would call myself a New Calvinist IF defined sociologically. But the more I read into this larger movement, I am very concerned about the direction it is going. Is a mere belief in the 5 points of Calvinism and the Sovereignty of God enough? In previously personal correspondence, I have queried about the issue of Gospel-centered-ness and Gospel-onlyness, and that not without cause. My friend Huaizhi's friend Eugene responded by saying that Gospel-centeredness would necessarily result in non-Gospel-onlyness. But is this necessarily so in practical implementation?

I guess my core concern could be briefly expressed as follows: New Evangelicalism as a movement is bankrupt, and the problems in Evangelicalism ie the emergence of Open Theism and myriad heresies, plus doctrinal compromise of every shade and color, has virtually destroyed whatever property of biblical evangelicalism New Evangelicalism once possess. In Neo-Calvinism and basically the conservative camp as a whole, the belief seems to be that the problems within Evangelicalism is incidental to the movement as a whole, and can be removed while preserving the core philosophy behind New Evangelicalism. My contention however is that the core philosophy behind New Evangelicalism is doctrinally bankrupt as well! In other words, the reason why modern day New Evangelicalism is in such a state is not because they have gone off course, but because a bad tree can never bear good fruit! The seed of the destruction of New Evangelicalism is found organically within itself; it is not a foreign object which attaches itself to the movement and kills it from the outside.

Therefore, for the Young, Restless and Reformed, how far are you willing to follow Scripture? Are you content to merely embrace the 5 points and come together for the Gospel? Or are you willing to follow Christ and the Scriptures whatever it takes and wherever it goes? Are you willing to re-examine the foundational philosophy of New Evangelicalism and reform accordingly to the Word of God, or are you content with pious platitudes of orthodoxy? Which path will you ultimately thread on? But remember this:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it (George Santayana)

Update: The term it seems has been utilized by the Kuyperians. A pity, since it would be an apt term for Neo-Evangelical Calvinists. Can't think of a better term for it now, unfortunately.

*Update*: For now, the term "New Evangelical Calvinism" would be used.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Living out Sola Fide

Dr. James White giving the conclusion of the Sola Fide Conference at Countryside Bible Church in Dallas

Truly an excellent sermon indeed.


Credo500 -Short article

Credo500 (Chinese Reformed Evangelical Discussion Online-500) is a blog conference organized by Reformed-minded Chinese Christians in commenmoration of John Calvin's 500th birthday. The blog conference, of which I am still rather clueless how it will be done, will occur in May 2009, focused on 9 articles written by various peoples on various subjects related to the Reformed faith.

In an apparent reminder to us that the submission deadline is drawing near, a new post has been posted on the blog, which in itself is really interesting. Here is the article (in Chinese):

16世纪宗教改革的贡献, 相当于4世纪尼西亚会议中所奠定有关三位一体和基督二性的信仰基础, 以及1054年东西教会在和子论争议上的神圣分裂, 无疑是基督教教义史在近500年最重要的分水岭.

显然,改教运动可以追溯至早期教父,特别5世纪奥古斯丁对罪与恩典之成熟的观念。马丁路得在其根基上特然醒悟到因信称义之真理, 加尔文跟着建立起神主权的教义系统, 为当时及往后的教会开辟了一条回归圣经之正统路线.

然而, 随着人本主义的崛起, 自由主义, 反智主义,福音主义, 后现代主义, 灵恩运动, 普世合一运动, 新兴教会运动, 新正统神学, 新保罗神学云云后宗教改革现象的发展顺流而出, 逐渐地绕过宗教改革的宝贵信仰遗产,因而模糊了当时一些关键的核心教义.

另一边厢, 以神为本的思想路线随着17世纪英国的清教徒运动, 18世纪北美的属灵大醒觉运动, 20世纪初西敏斯神学院的护教运动, 以及20世纪末海内外华人教会兴起的归正福音运动, 则一脉相承地把今日教会与改教神学及历代正统基督教传统联系起来.

欣逢2009年,全世界归正群体在纪念加尔文诞辰500周年之际, CREDO500 由一群受归正神学造就的网友发起, 志在依循神本体系之旧路上继承发扬,故以<从加尔文看今日华人教会>的主题, 将在5月4-8日, 于部落格会议中发表并讨论参与者所呈上的一系列文章.

And here is my [attempt at] translation:

The 16th century Reformation is undoubtedly the greatest watershed movement in the last 500 years of the history of the Church. In its contribution to theology, it ranks near the 4th century Council of Nicea which codified the foundational doctrine of the Trinity and of the two natures of Christ, and also the Great Schism of 1054 between the Eastern and Western churches due to disagreement on the doctrine of the Procession of the Spirit from the Son.

This movement of reformation however can be traced back even to the early Church Fathers, especially to the 5th century where Augustine puts forward a mature view of sin and grace. Similarly, Martin Luther build upon that Augustinian foundation in coming to understand the true doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone, while John Calvin followed through with the setting up of a system of theology centered on the Sovereignty of God. Through their efforts, the way of reforming and returning back to the Orthodox truth of Scripture has been opened up for churches both then and now.

However, with the rise of Humanism, Libertarianism, Anti-intellectualism, Evangelicalism, Postmodernism, Charismatism, Ecumenism, Revivalism, Neo-Orthodoxy, the New Perspective on Paul and many other religious reform and restoration movements, the precious legacy of the Reformation has been slowly but surely neglected. Such results in the obscuring of certain foundational Christian doctrines which took center stage in that era, to the detriment of the Church.

On the other hand, the theocentric thread of theology runs through 17th century English Puritanism, the 18th century Great Awakening, early 20th century Westminster Seminary with its contention for the faith and the late 20th century revival of the Reformed faith in Chinese congregations around the world. All of these work together to link the modern Church to Reformation theology and the Historic Orthodox traditions of the Church.

With the advent of 2009, Reformed communities around the world are commemorating the 500th birthday of John Calvin. CREDO500 was started by a group of web-friends who are all impacted and nurtured by Reformed theology. God willing, through walking in the old paths, we will discuss under the theme "Calvin in perspective on today's Chinese congregation" the papers prepared by the contributors in the blog conference scheduled for May 4th-8th.

Hope the translation is suitable. Please inform me if there are any errors in it.

P.S.: I am better at translating Chinese to English; the converse is not as good.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

When Relevance becomes Irreverence - The curious case of Mark Driscoll

Here is an interesting video program on the controversial person of Mark Driscoll. Cathy Mickels has written a very interesting article entitled Mark Driscoll: Is he qualified to lead? here:

This memo is written to Christian leaders detailing my concerns regarding the ministry of Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. His church has grown to 6,000 members in 11 years and is also described as one of the fastest growing, innovative churches in America.

Because this ministry is characterized by so many examples of the trivialization of Scripture, crudeness, foolish talk and vulgarity it will be a challenge to keep my correspondence as brief as possible.

Research leads me to concur with Pastor John MacArthur, who has also said, “I have a great concern about him. [Mark Driscoll.]”

In fact, in a radio interview with Todd Friel on the April 7, 2008, edition of Way of the Master, referring to Mark Driscoll’s book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev, Pastor MacArthur said, “…there are statements in that book that are so sexually explicit and unnecessary and purely gratuitous humor at the basest kind of level; I saw a video from a service in the church in January in which comments were made from his pulpit, which were then put…. on the website, which again, were sexually explicit and gratuitous and unnecessary…in which he referred to a certain sin and actually twisted out-of-context a Bible verse as a kind of way to mock that sin. You know ….there was a time when we worried about the church adjusting itself to accommodate the peoples’ social expectations, and then their psychological expectations, and now the latest wave of this let’s identify with them at their sensual level. And I think that baser approach - that’s something I’ve never heard of in my life — I’ve never, ever, in the name of ministry heard anyone who would speak at that level of explicit language with regard to things sexual… I just think there is a dignity, there’s a maturity, there’s a holiness, a virtue, a fear of God that belongs with the pastorate, …there’s a refinement that belongs in the ministry. The Bible talks about that ; being ’sober-minded’ - the pursuit of godliness,…Speech that comes out of your mouth, no filthy communication, only that which ministers grace to the hearer ….you can’t put one thought in their mind and then try to transition them to something holy…it’s a new kind of thing that I never, ever, imagined would happen…”