An old friend sent me this picture via email. I thought it was funny enough to pass along.
Just passing on someone else's thoughts,
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An old friend sent me this picture via email. I thought it was funny enough to pass along.
"For the last three years we've been fighting a war over foreign oil."
Thus begins an advertisement that a senatorial candidate has been airing in this area for the last month or more. I am fairly new to this state and know next to nothing about local politics, but from that sentence alone I know enough to know that I will not be voting for this individual, if he manages to get past the primary.
This statement reveals to me one of two things about the person making this claim.
It reveals to me that he is either stupid or dishonest. If he really believes that the war in Iraq is over foreign oil, then he is too stupid to hold such a high office. If he actually understands that the war in Iraq is not over foreign oil, then he is too dishonest to hold such a high office.
Now, if this individual wanted to make some legitimate arguments about why he thinks the war in Iraq was a wrong decision or to argue about the execution of the war in Iraq, that would be an entirely different thing. I can respect someone who honestly and truthfully disagrees. I cannot respect someone who spews this type of rhetoric in order to gain political points.
Just my thoughts,
Posted by Frank Sansone at 12:45 AM
As I mentioned in my last post, this week is the 67th Annual Conference of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches at Tri-State Bible Camp and Conference Center in Montague, New Jersey. Last year I had the privilege of writing a series of reports about the conference for SharperIron. They can be accessed both on A Thinking Man's Thoughts by following these links (FFBC - Introduction and History, FFBC 2005 Annual Conference - Monday & Tuesday, FFBC 2005 Annual Conference - Wednesday & Thursday) or by finding the same articles on SharperIron - including resolutions at these links (FFBC - Introduction and History, FFBC 2005 Annual Confeence - Monday & Tuesday, FFBC 2005 Annual Conference - Wednesday & Thursday, FFBC 2005 Resolutions - # 1, FFBC 2005 Resolutions # 2, FFBC 2005 Resolutions # 3, FFBC 2005 Resolutions # 4, FFBC 2005 Resolutions # 5, FFBC 2005 Resolutions # 6).
As I mentioned on a previous post, the speaker for this week is Dr. Ralph Colas of the American Council of Christian Churches. Dr. Colas is a very gracious man whom God has used for a number of years. He has served in a number of different ministries and has preached in hundreds of churches over the years. In addition to his fruitful ministry as a preacher of God's Word, Dr. Colas also serves Christ and the ACCC by visiting (with reporters' credentials) various national and international meetings of a religious nature and producing reports on those meetings. These reports have been helpful in knowing what is going on in ecumenism and evangelicalism over the years. Many of these reports are available at the ACCC website.
As we began our conference on Monday, Pastor Mark Franklin opened up the conference by calling it to order and opening in prayer. After a good time of singing hymns and special music (including "Blessed Assurance" - the hymn that those who were involved in "The Walk-Out" of 1939 sang as they refused to become part of the Methodist merger.
On Monday night, Dr. Ralph Colas preached on Authority. We live in a day in which authority is continually being challenged. In his message, based upon Mark 1:21-28, he dealt with Christ's Authority by looking at the passage where the Bible tells us that Christ taught with authority and that he cast out the demon with authority. For his points, Dr. Colas examined Christ's Authoritative Doctrine (dealing with the manner in which Christ taught), Christ's Authoritative Denunciation (dealing with the manner in which Christ commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man), and Christ's Authoritative Demonstration (dealing with the result and response from the unclean spirit leaving the man). Dr. Colas encouraged us to hold close to the written Word and the living Word.
On Tuesday morning, Pastor Mark Franklin of Hardingville Bible Church preached on Psalm 137 and dealt with singing in a strange land and not hanging up our harps. Tuesday morning also consisted of the routine reports and elections that typically occupy a business meeting.
One of the things that is different at the FFBC Annual Conference is that instead of standing around in coats and ties all day long, it is held in a camp setting, so the attire can be more casual (generally short sleeved collared shirts) and also there are a number of "fun" activities that take place during the week. Every year, part of those activities include the annual Pastors versus Delegates softball game (this year the Delegates - along with some of the camp staff) beat the Pastors rather handily. Other activities include things like swimming, water slide, mini-golf, carpet ball, horseshoes, hikes, and rafting down the Delaware River. This year, my family and I are going to take advantage of the opportunity to go rafting with our children - we have not done so in a number of years, but are looking forward to going again.
Just my thoughts,
Sorry this is late notice, but I did want to alert my readers to an ongoing Fundamentalism conference.
This week, August 14 - 16, 2006 the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches is holding their 67th Annual Conference at Tri-State Bible Camp and Conference Center in Montague, New Jersey. Our speaker this year will Dr. Ralph Colas of the American Council of Christian Churches. The ACCC is a Fundamental organization that seeks to "contend for the faith" (Jude 3). Dr. Ralph Colas is Executive Secretary of the ACCC, a role which he has held for the last fourteen years.
If you happen to be in the area during this week, please stop by and join us. If you wish to come to an evening service, the services are at 7:00 p.m. There are other events going on as well if you would like to come for more than the preaching. A schedule should be able to be found on the Tri-State website linked above. There is no cost if you are just coming for the evening sessions. If you wish to come for the whole week or over night, accommodations can be arranged by the staff at Tri-State Bible Camp.
I look forward to seeing some of you there, if you can come up one of the nights.
Just my thoughts,
In connection with this conference, I have posted a copy of my reports that I had published last year on SharperIron about last year's conference.
These reports are located here:
An Introduction and History of the FFBC
FFBC Annual Conference Report 1
FFBC Annual Conference Report 2
The Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches (FFBC) is a fellowship of Fundamental churches and pastors that seeks to honor Jesus Christ and stand together as a national voice for Fundamentalism. The FFBC is one of the charter members of the American Council of Christian Churches and holds its Annual Conference in August of each year. The FFBC is hosting their 66th Annual Conference the week of August 15-18, 2005 at Tri-State Bible Camp and Conference Center in Montague, New Jersey.
Pastor Frank Sansone (mbfpastor) will be attending this conference and providing reports to SharperIron throughout the week. This first report is designed to provide an introduction to the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches for those who may not be familiar with them and will look at the history, ministries, and mission of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches. Subsequent posts will focus on the conference itself.
The History of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches
The Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches has a long and unique history that traces its roots to 1830 with the beginning of the New York Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church. This New York Conference merged with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Conferences in 1911 to form the Eastern Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church, which was the direct forerunner of the FFBC.
The FFBC (still known as the Eastern Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church) faced its crucial challenge of the Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy in 1939 at the 29th and final session of the E.C.M.P.C. At issue was the proposed merging of the Methodist Protestant Church with the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South. This merger would form the basis of what is now called the United Methodist Church and would bring the churches and Pastors of the E.C.M.P.C. into direct fellowship with a church group that was controlled by leaders whose doctrinal beliefs were at variance with the Word of God. Among that leadership and a particular bone of contention at the time was Bishop Francis J. McConnell who had been chosen to make the Episcopal address at the first General Conference and who had written a book entitled The Christlike God which attacked the deity of Jesus Christ and taught that "this tendency to deify Jesus" was "more heathen than Christian." (1)
The Reverend Newton Conant, representing a group opposed to the merger, protested the proposed merger. An early report of the meeting comments, "Reverend Conant pointed out very clearly the reasons why the great number of ministers, delegates, and members were not going into the union upon doctrinal basis. He pointed out the real reason was that the Methodist Episcopal Church had in their official offices and institutions men who denied the fundamental truths of the Bible and doctrines of the constitutions of the Methodist Protestant Church."
When a ruling was made by the president that the meeting was now a meeting of the Methodist Church rather than the Methodist Protestant Church, Rev. Conant stated that he could not continue to sit in a Methodist Conference and invited all who desired to do so to withdraw with him and continue their session at the Scullville Methodist Protestant Church. A group of ordained men, supply ministers and delegates left the meeting, singing "Blessed Assurance," "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name," and "'Tis the Old Time Religion" as they made their way to Scullville.
The next year (1940), the name was changed to the Bible Protestant Church and in 1941 the BPC became one of the charter members of the American Council of Christian Churches. The FFBC still enjoys membership in the ACCC to this date. In 1985 the name was changed again to the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches in order to provide clearer identification.
The Ministries and Mission of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches
The Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches provides for a national voice to represent Biblical Christianity and Fundamentalism to a lost and dying world. The Fellowship currently has churches from California to New York and from Michigan to Virginia, although the highest concentration of those churches is in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania region where the FFBC had its beginnings.
The FFBC also maintains a year-round Christian Camp and Conference Center in Montague, New Jersey (Tri-State Bible Camp), a Bible Institute (Fundamental Bible Institute), and a number of publications - The FFBC Link, The FFBC Focus, and the FFBC Spotlight.
In addition to these areas, FFBC pastors meet regionally for regular times of prayer, preaching, and Biblical discussion. Usually a Preacher's Fellowship is held annually where the pastors are challenged by men in the ministry (the most recent ones included Dr. Les Olilla and Dr. David Cummins) and the Fundamental Bible Institute holds a yearly Bible Conference.
Every year in August, the FFBC meets at Tri-State Bible Conference for their Annual Conference and business meeting, with a keynote speaker for the year. This year's Speaker is Dr. Tony Fox of Northland Baptist Bible College. Other speakers in recent years include Pastor Chuck Phelps and Dr. Bob Jones, III.
The Positions of the Fellowship of the Fundamental Bible Churches
The FFBC website (www.ffbc.ws) provides a full doctrinal statement of the FFBC, as well as statements of the FFBC regarding the positions of the FFBC on key issues of the day. The summary of these doctrinal positions are that the FFBC is Biblically Literal, Dispensational, Evangelistic and Baptistic.
Materials for this report and recommended reading regarding the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches include the following:
Conant, Newton, How God Delivered 34 Churches, Bible Protestant Press, Camden, NJ, 1964.
Franklin, Mark, The Mission and Work of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches, Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches, Penns Grove, NJ, 1999.
Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches Development Data, Volume 3 (1939-2002)
Assorted minutes and papers from the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches archives located at Tri-State Bible Camp and Conference Center in Montague, New Jersey.
Introducing ... The Bible Protestant Church, Bible Protestant Press, 1975
(1) This quote is taken from a report in the FFBC archives and lists this as being found on page 15 of the book. I could not locate an actual copy of the book. A online search of this book shows a number of websites which speak about this book and take this quote, but attribute the book to being published in the 1940s. The fact that this book, including this quote, was part of the controversary that effected the "walk-out" in 1939 and an examination of the U.S. Catalog of Copyright Entries for 1927 shows that this book was copyrighted in 1927, not in the 1940s.
Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches - Annual Conference Overview - Monday and Tuesday
The 66th Annual Conference of The Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches took place Monday, August 15 - Thursday, August 18, 2005 at Tri-State Bible Camp and Conference Center in Montague, New Jersey. The following is a report of the events of the Conference.
The Annual Conference officially began with the opening service at the Tri-State Chapel. Dr. Tony Fox, Exeutive Director of Foreign Development for Northland Baptist Bible College and until recently Vice President of Academic Affairs at NBBC, was the speaker for the evening services for the week. Tapes of the evening services are available from Tri-State Bible Camp.
Each night, Dr. Fox preached on the theme of "Struggles in the Ministry." Dr. Fox commented that we the struggles in ministry are universal because we have an adversary that is universal. On Monday night, Dr. Fox preached on The Struggle over our Inadequacy for Ministry and dealt in particular with the example of Moses as found in the book of Exodus. Dr. Fox commented that we have this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Cor 4:7) and that we, who are descendants of lumps of dirt are engaged in communicating divine revelation. Dr. Fox also commented that God had to break Moses in the desert, and that often God has to break us of our own sense of greatness before we are instruments fit for His use. Satan often tries to get us to focus on our selves, but we need to realize that it does not matter who we are or what we lack - what matters is Who God is.
Tuesday, August 16
Tuesday morning featured a message from the Word of God, a business session and a panel discussion. Pastor Steve Snavely of Grace Baptist Church of Highland Falls, New York gave the morning message as he preached on Prayer - encouraging us regarding the frequency and fervency of our prayers.
The Tuesday morning business session included normal business items such as minutes and reports, as well as elections, with Pastor Mark Franklin of Hardingville Bible Church in Monroeville, New Jersey being re-elected as the President of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches.
Tuesday mid-morning consisted of a Panel Discussion entitled Key Issues in the Culture War. Panelist for this discussion included Dr. Tony Fox, Dr. Al Martin (Instructor for Fundamental Bible Institute), Mr. Frank D'Agostino (a layman from Faith Fellowship Baptist Church in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey), and Pastor Frank Sansone (Pastor of Messiah Baptist Fellowship of Salisbury, Maryland). The discussion included questions from the floor and essentially focused on three areas of the culture war (life vs. death, marriage vs. sexual idolatry, and expression of faith vs. suppression of faith), dealing with the evaluation of cultural issues as they appear and responding to these issues as Christians. Mr. Frank D'Agostino discussed some issues that laymen face in the corporate world regarding these issues. Emphasis was also made on the fact that the cultural battle is often best dealt with on a spiritual level, a personal level, and an pre-emptive level. Dealing with the cultural issues on a spiritual level involves the recognition that these things ultimately are heart issues and that it is God Who changes the heart and that salvation in Christ brings about changes that no amount of human effort could ever accomplish. Dealing with cultural issues on a personal level emphasizes the importance of dealing with individuals on a one-on-one basis rather than focusing on the groups. Dealing with cultural issues on a pre-emptive level emphasizes the need to respond to corruption in culture before the corruption has been allowed to become the norm. Discussion also involved the importance of not letting the issues take precedence in ministry, and explored the relationship of Fundamentalists to the groups and leaders of these cultural battles.
After an afternoon of food and fellowship (including the annual Pastors v. Delegates Softball Game, which was won this year by the Pastors), the evening service again featured an excellent message by Dr. Tony Fox, this time on the Struggle for Purity in the Ministry. Dr. Fox dealt with the false view of the body as found in 1 Corinthians 6 and then focused on the example of Joseph in Genesis 39, considering two key realities that helped Joseph to remain pure during the time of temptation. The first reality was that sexual immorality is primarily a sin against God because it is a sin against God's temple (our body) and because it is a sin against the owner of the body. The second reality that Joseph understood that the flesh is powerful - its characteristic is weak (Mt. 26:41), its composition is "not good" (Rom. 7:12), its consequences is death (Rom. 8:5) and its confidence is to be none (Rom 13:14, Phil 3:3). In light of these truths, Dr. Fox discussed the problem of men coming into our colleges with problems in this area and encouraged us to put up safeguards in our lives to help us win over the struggle for purity in the ministry.
After a break, Tuesday night concluded with a Question and Answer Time with Dr. Fox for the Pastors of the F.F.B.C. This annual time of heart to heart conversation with the speaker is often a time of great blessing to the Pastors and this year was no exception to that rule.
Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches - Conference Overview - Wednesday and Thursday
[b]Wednesday, August 17
Wednesday morning consisted of a message from God's Word, a business session, and a workshop. Pastor Frank Sansone of Messiah Baptist Fellowship of Salisbury, Maryland gave the morning message and focused on the need to be faithful men of God, following the example of Epaphras as found in Colossians and Philemon - dealing with the descriptions of the man of God (fellowservant, faithful minister, etc.), the demeanor of the man of God (humble, zealous, identified with his people), and the duties of the man of God (to proclaim the Word of God, to protect the flock of God, and to pray for the people of God).
The Wednesday morning business session included the introduction of Mr. Chris Jenkins as the new Program Director for Tri-State Bible Camp, reports and other business items, and the passing of two resolutions - Resolution #1 - "The Legacy of Billy Graham" and Resolution #2 - "The Pope and Christianity Today." (These resolutions are posted separately.)
Following the morning business session, Pastor Mark Franklin, President of the F.F.B.C. and Executive Committee member of the American Council of Christian Churches, held a workshop entitled "Trends in Fundamentalism." In this presentation, Pastor Franklin dealt with positives and challenges that we see in Fundamentalism today.
Listed by Pastor Franklin as some positives in Fundamentalism today included the following:
1. Good, open discussion taking place with allowable disagreement,
2. The identifying of some of the non-issues in Fundamentalism, and
3. An openness to a discussion within the family of Fundamentalism.
Other positives listed in the discussion time that Pastor Franklin encouraged included the growth and development of good Fundamental colleges and seminaries, the emphasis upon expository preaching, a depth in preaching and teaching, and the number of men who have a desire to stand true.
Listed by Pastor Franklin as some challenges within Fundamentalism today included the following:
1. There is still a need for clarity regarding Fundamentalism,
2. There is a need to distance ourselves from those men and ministries who are hurting our cause while claiming our label, and
3. There is a need to be relevant without compromise.
Other challenges brought out during the discussion included a danger to follow personalities, a propensity to overly divide, a need to reaffirm the bench marks of what is open for discussion, and the need to shore up the priority of purity.
Pastor Franklin then observed that doctrine is essential to the life of the church (Acts 2:42, 2 Tim. 3:16) and that "words" are important for they are that which we are to study (2 Tim. 2:14-15) and wrong words are to be shunned (2 Tim. 2:16-18). Pastor Franklin concluded that there is a great need in our Fundamental churches for (1) Sound doctrine, (2) Clarity and precision, and (3) Exposing false teachers.
Wednesday is "Family Day" at the Annual Conference, so Wednesday afternoon was reserved for families to go swimming, fishing, relax around the campsite, play games or take short sight-seeing trips to nearby attractions.
On Wednesday night, Dr. Tony Fox gave his last message of the week as he preached on Our Struggle to Compromise in the Ministry. Dr. Fox indicated how that one of the issues in Poland and the Eastern Block during the early days of those nations becoming "open" to the Gospel was the trend to accept everything that called itself Christianity. Dr. Fox emphasized the three "But Thou" expressions in this passage (2 Tim 3:10, 3:14, 4:5) and encouraged us to watch and continue and to proclaim all of the scripture in light of the coming day (2 Tim. 4:1).
Thursday, August 18
On Thursday morning, the conference included a message from God's Word, a business session, and a time of testimonies and prayer as we dismissed. Pastor Robert Rogish of Faith Fellowship Baptist Church gave the morning message as he challenged us to take up the stones of Prayer, Joyful Service, Separation, Standards, and Protecting the Family.
The Thursday morning business session included some final reports and other similar items of business, as well as the passing of six additional resolutions - Resolution #3 - "Progressive Creationism," Resolution #4 - "Judicial Dilemma," Resolution #5 - "Thankful for God's Goodness," Resolution #6 - "Salvation by Christ Alone," Resolution #7 - "A Faithful Servant" (honoring Mr. Keith Lambertson and his family - the property manager of Tri-State Bible Camp), and Resolution #8 - "In Appreciation of our Host". Resolutions # 3, 4, and 6 are posted separately.
Following the meeting there was a time of testimony and prayer at the "Fellowship Circle" (a tradition dating back over fifty years) and the conference was closed with the singing of "Blest Be the Tie that Binds."
Many of you have seen the popular "Book Tag" game that has been going around the Internet. Well, I have been tagged by Chris Anderson, so I will oblige with my answers to the One Book Tag. These answers may be subject to change as I think about them more, but here is at least my initial answers.
1. One book that changed your life.
While not stated, it is assumed that for all of the relevant questions, the Bible is excluded as the obvious choice for those questions. While that should be obvious, I just wanted to make sure I mentioned it up front lest someone get the wrong idea.
This first one, in particular, seems to be tough.
I know I have to narrow this down, but I am torn between two particular books for two vastly different reasons.
On the one hand, I could say, "Jack Hyles' Favorite Soul-Winning Experiences." Now, before you jump on me, let me explain. While I was never a big follower of Hyles, I had a man who had been very influential in my life when I was a new believer and he was a big advocate of the Bus Ministry and, by extension, Hyles. There was a church plant that I had helped with as a teenager and idea had been floated around that if I went to HAC, then when I graduated there would be a Youth Pastor position available for me at that church. For a 17 year-old teen who had only been saved a few years, this was an exciting possibility. Reading this book opened my eyes to the error of the "A-B-C Pray After Me" approach to "Soul Winning."
On the positive side of things, I would say that a little biography called Bill Borden: The Finished Course - the Unfinished Task about Missionary Bill Borden was a life changing book for me. This little book was a powerful challenge and example to me of giving my all to Christ.
2. One book that you've read more than once.
I was going to say, The Disciplined Life by Richard Taylor. I first read it as required reading for a Youth Work class with Dr. Walter Freemont at BJU and have subsequently come back to it a number of times, but I see that Andy Efting has already chosen that one.
Another book that I have read repeatedly and found profitable and challenging is Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. This is one of those books I have on my short list of books to try to read at least every other year. Godliness thru Discipline by Jay Adams is another book that falls into this category.
3. One book you'd want on a deserted island
US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76
I recognize that the spirit of that question is not on survival, so in that light, I would take my set of Spurgeon's Sermons that used to be my wife's Grandfather Marken - a godly saint who planted churches and started Sunday Schools in Ohio during the middle of the last century. It is a gift that I hold dear and it would be a great companion on a deserted island.
If I am not allowed to take a set of books, I think I would take a copy of Living Hymns or some other hymnbook.
4. One book that made you laugh
Reader's Digest Treasury of Great Humor
5. One book that made you cry.
In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham - the story of some New Tribes Missionaries taken captive by terrorists in 2001. I admit that I cried as I thought about the ordeal that they experienced and the effect it would have on my family.
6. One book that you wish had been written.
Biblically Based Discipleship - A Theological and Practical Guide towards Assisting Others Towards Christlikeness - by Pastor Frank Sansone (maybe some day)
God Sent Revival - How God Changed Christians and the World during the 20th & 21st Centuries
7. One book that you wish had never been written.
I would say probably the Koran or The Book of Mormon because of the number of people that have been led astray by these books.
On a more recent level, Dr. Spock's Book on Child Care
8. One book that you are currently reading
I tend to have a number of books going on at one time. Since I am coaching my son's U-10 soccer team, I am currently reading about six books on soccer and coaching soccer that I checked out from the library. I am also reading The Wit and Widsom of Abraham Lincoln edited by Jack Lang and The Parson of the Islands by Adam Wallace about a man who ministered on the Eastern Shore during the 1800s.
9. One book that you've been meaning to read
Well, I have been meaning to finish Changed Into His Image by Jim Berg, but since I have at least started that one and am listening to his presentations on it, I guess I would say one of the other books I have been meaning to read is the two-volume biography of Hudson Taylor by Howard Taylor
10. Tag five people
I'll tag the following bloggers.
Over the years, I have heard some discussion about Pastors who make themselves the hero of all of their illustrations and who put themselves in stories that were not really about themselves.
I came across the same thing today while reading a book entitled, Life Lessons from Soccer, I came across two well-known stories that have made the rounds via email and jokes for a number of years. The one dealt with the substituting "tents" for "tense" and the other dealt with someone betting on event on TV that they had already seen and then after they won the bet, revealing that they had already seen it only to have the other person say, "I saw it too, but I did not think that he could do it again."
Now, the fact that the jokes/stories are corny are bad enough, but that is not my concern at this time. What bugged me as I read these stories, however, was that in both cases, the author made it appear as though these things were directly related to him. In the one case, it involved his kids' soccer team. In the other case, it involved his two sons.
Now, I would guess that it is possible, however remote that both of these popular things also happened to him, but it seems kind of fishy to me.
When faced in a secular book about soccer, maybe it does not make much difference (I mean, after all, who besides Ben Wright and Bob Bixby actually cares about soccer :)?), however, when coming from a Pastor or one who handles the Word of God, this is a griveous sin. Not only is lying a sin, it is also affects the credibility of the other things that we say.
Hopefully, no one reading this actually has a problem in this area, but after reading these two examples within the space of ten or so pages and feeling like I was wasting my time reading this book, I thought back to comments I have heard in the past about Pastors who do the same thing and thought I would encourage us to be careful in this area.
Just my thoughts,
Standards and Fences
There are many today who like to equate having standards and guidelines as a form of legalism or Phariseeism and as contrary to the grace of God working in a person's life. The end of this equation is that anyone who advocates that others adopt standards in their lives to help keep themselves from falling into a particular sin is "adding to the Scripture" and is teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.
It seems interesting to me that the ones who I most often interact with on this type of conversation are people who have previously been in Fundamentalism, usually of the more extreme variety. It seems to me that there must be something in leaving the extremes that tends to move you towards the opposite extreme.
In one recent conversation on this topic, one individual commented (not to me) that "You don't have a supernatural religion, therefore you can't keep your thoughts pure without ‘going beyond what is written.'" Another an individual commented that "standards are a human-based solution to a deadness so profound that only God can change it" and "Standards promoters feel it is important to have faith, the correct doctrine, and the Triune Deity, but instead of actually having these things, they may only image (sic - I assume he meant imagine) that they do. The commands and wisdom of the Scriptures must be shored up where necessary by fences and rules. The Pharisees believed in this way..."
So, if I follow this reasoning, the following things are true about those who believe that having and maintaining standards can be a good thing.
1. They do not have a supernatural religion, but a fake religion.
2. Standards are "going beyond what is written" because you can't keep yourself pure with that fake religion.
3. Standards are the result of a profound deadness.
4. Standards promoters do not have faith, correct doctrine or the Triune Deity, just think they do.
5. Standards promoters do not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture.
6. Standards promoters are following the path of the Pharisees.
The reality, of course, is that numbers 1, 3, & 4 (at least are all the same thing) - those who believe in having, keeping, and encouraging others in the area of standards are lost.
I recognize that there are many groups out there who believe that keeping their standards are what makes or keeps them holy. Sadly, those individuals are severely mistaken. We do not merit grace, it is the gift of God. However, there is a large difference between having, keeping and encouraging standards and believing that it is those standards that make me right with God.
I am married. As a result of being married, there are some things that I will not do because I love my wife. There are some guidelines that I have set up so that I will not displease her (even though I am sure that there are plenty of other areas where I do displease her). I follow these things because I love Missy and I do not want to displease her, not because I believe that keeping those guidelines is all I need in order to keep my relationship with Missy what it should be.
Not only are having appropriate guidelines and standards helpful from a practical standpoint, they are also consistent with Biblical teaching about these things.
For instance, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13:14,
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
It seems to me that in order to fulfill that admonition, one must have an understanding of what types of things provide for our flesh so that we can avoid making provision for it.
Even more pointedly, Jesus Christ Himself seems to give a radical view of the seriousness of setting up fences so that we do not fall.
Notice these words of Jesus Christ,
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
It seems strange to me that when someone argues, "If having unfiltered internet access causes thee to look after a woman to lust, thou shouldest get a filter on your internet rather than persist in that sin" they are viewed as being legalistic and having a false religion, when Christ says "pluck out the eye" if it causes you to stumble or "cut off that hand" if doing so will keep you from going down this pathway to sin.
Now, I recognize that the "non-standards" people will argue that "well, you are not Christ", but it seems to me that the principle from Christ is still applicable - if there is something we can do that keeps us away from those temptations (e.g. erecting a standard or a practice to avoid the problem - or "cutting off our hand"), then surely this is a wise and prudent thing to do.
Just my thoughts,
File under - Christianity, Fundamentalism
I recently passed a blogging milestone, and in the process made some adjustments to my blog.
I have now made over 100 posts on this blog. Some of which I pray have been helpful or encouraging or at least thought-provoking or interesting. I have been sporadic in my posting (sometimes worse than others), but I have generally posted at least something every week or so (except recently), often times posting multiple items in a week.
While I was on vacation, I thought about some things that I would like to do with my actual posting, but I wanted to take care of some other things first.
The first thing that I wanted to do was to fix the categories issue. I thought a few months ago that I had solved the problem of trying to get categories in Blogger. The problem, however, was that the solution I had followed did not pick up any of the older posts. I have looked for a way to work around this and have been disappointed in my options. I thought about going over to WordPress (in fact I have migrated my blog over there awhile ago, but I have not added anything to it because I can't figure out how to personalize the templates or do anything else of the kind). I finally developed a work around that I hope will work better than what I have been doing. My work around? I created an additional blog called, "Categories for A Thinking Man's Thoughts" (don't you like the clever title?) The purpose of this other blog is simply to point back to articles in particular categories on this blog. We'll see how it works.
The second thing that I wanted to do was to provide a way for other readers to be able to see the things that others were commenting upon. Andy Rupert over at Isle Kerguelen had this feature on his Blogger blog, and he kindly pointed me to how to take care of this problem as well. (It is still not exactly what I want, but it is at least a step in the right direction.)
Anyway, to those of you who have been along with me for many of the first 100 posts, thanks for reading.
Just my thoughts,
File under Blogging