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Archive for June, 2008

In a June 28 Associated Press story entitled “Presbyterian Assembly votes to drop homosexual clergy ban,” Ed Gorski reports that

The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting in San Jose, Calif., voted 54 percent to 46 percent Friday to drop the requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in ‘fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.’ The proposed change to the church constitution requires approval from a majority the nation’s 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies — a yearlong process that has proven to be a barrier to similar efforts in the past.

As if that were not enough, a second vote entrenched the denomination in its depravity:

Of equal importance to advocates on both side[s] of the debate, the assembly also voted to allow gay and lesbian candidates for ordination to conscientiously object to the existing standard. Local presbyteries and church councils that approve ordinations would consider such requests on a case-by-case basis. That vote was an ‘an authoritative interpretation’ of the church constitution rather than a change to it, so it goes into effect immediately. The interpretation supersedes a ruling from the church’s high court, issued in February, that said there were no exceptions to the so-called ‘fidelity and chastity’ requirement.

Surely the time for Christians to separate from the PCUSA has come. By its actions, the PCUSA has shown that, as a national body, it is no longer a Christian denomination. Indeed, it is apostate. While Christians may differ over doctrine and the interpretation of portions of Scripture, Christians do not reject that which is clear in the Bible. No Christian will support homosexuality as a union blessed by God because the Scriptures are clear. Homosexuality represents the bottom of human depravity: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27, ESV).

Those who claim to follow Christ and yet practice homosexuality worship a Christ of their imagination, a Christ fashioned by the deception of their own hearts. And yes, those of us who call attention to their rebellion against God will be castigated as “unloving” and “uncaring” and “pharisaical” and other such less-than-charitable epithets. The bottom line is this: One cannot be a Christian while condoning that which the Scriptures condemn.

Homosexuality is a sin, just as a host of others are. The apostle Paul provides quite a list: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV).

None of us is without sin, and all of us who are indeed Christians are followers of Christ by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nevertheless, a true Christian will not endorse the practice of that which the Bible prohibits.

This is indeed a sad day for Bible-believing congregations which have remained in the PCUSA. The PCUSA has shown itself to be an apostate denomination, and it is time for local churches comprised of true believers to separate from it. May God give them the discernment and the courage to do so.

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Fun? How about worship?

A news account and a church advertisement reminded me that many evangelicals see their gathering on Sunday morning primarily as a time for having fun and building relationships. Admittedly, it may seem like I’m just an old curmudgeon and will stand accused of fearing that somebody somewhere is having a good time, but I believe that churches which are built on fun and relationships are part of the reason Christianity is deemed irrelevant by all too many in our culture.

Frankly, if I want to have fun, I’d rather go play a round of golf. If I want to be entertained with music, I’ll listen to my iPod or go to a concert. If I want to build relationships, Kynette and I will invite someone for dinner. I do not go to church on Sunday mornings for fun or entertainment or to build relationships; I go to worship God with fellow believers.

Our problem is that we have made what are called “worship services” into man-centered events. It’s all about my blessing, my edification, my enjoyment, my fun. Such a view is merely secular humanism cloaked with some Bible and God-talk. In many services, congregations applaud a soloist or the choir for music well sung. And, yes, I’ve heard defenders of applauding in worship say, “We’re giving the Lord a hand.” Or, they’ll point to some Old Testament passage about clapping, providing more evidence of eisegesis run amuck. If you have to point out why you do a practice so that others won’t misunderstand, the practice itself is suspect.

I find such practices as customs to avoid, not imitate. When I gather with God’s people on Sunday morning, I want to be a part of singing that is doctrinally sound and reverent, praying that is God-focused, and preaching that faithfully exposits and applies the Scriptures. Worship, by the very word, is to be God-centered, not man-centered. It is for God’s glory, not for our blessing. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!'” (Psalm 122:1, ESV), not because we’re looking for fun, but because we delight in the Lord.

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In the throes of yet another U.S. presidential campaign (do they ever cease?), the issue of abortion is again before the public. Soon-to-be Democratic nominee Barack Obama gladly trumpets his endorsement of “a woman’s right to choose” in order to set himself against his Republican opponent.

I’ve always been intrigued by that phrase: “a woman’s right to choose.” “To choose” is an infinitive that begs an object. A woman has a right “to choose” what? I suspect we’ll be hard pressed to find either Mr. Obama or other abortion apologists completing that infinitive phrase. To do so would expose too vividly the stark reality of the choice.

Here are some suggestions which I’m sure Mr. Obama’s speech writers have been seeking:

  • “I will defend a woman’s right to choose the death or life of her unborn child.”
  • “I will defend a woman’s right to choose the uninterrupted pursuit of a college diploma by ridding herself of the child within her or the interruption of her studies by giving birth and rearing her child.”
  • “I will defend a woman’s right to choose continued sexual irresponsibility or sex reserved for marriage so that the child can be reared in a stable home.”
  • “I will defend a woman’s right to choose moral recklessness or moral responsibility.”

Admittedly, these suggestions need some work. Indeed, they do lack pizazz. They do, though, put some context to the feckless and purposely vague “woman’s right to choose.”

The bottom line is that abortion is about death. Perhaps the mother doesn’t want her education interrupted or doesn’t want her career put on hold or is single and anticipates deeper poverty. Perhaps she just doesn’t want to deal with “a kid.” Or perhaps her husband or boyfriend is pressuring her to end the life of her child because that child will interfere with their lives. The reasons can be endless. Nevertheless, the stark reality is the unborn child within his or her mommy’s womb is destined for a painful death to satisfy the ill-considered purposes of someone who wasn’t aborted.

A biblical sonogram helps to put the issue in perspective:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16 [ESV])

The unborn child is no mere glob of biological matter in the sight of God. The unborn child is a person made in the image of his Creator. Scoring political points with death? We’d better do some serious thinking.

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A June 23, 2008, Associated Press story by Eric Gorski provides additional evidence that religious Americans do not know the Scriptures or have rejected the Scriptures or simply do not care about the issues.

America remains a deeply religious nation, but a new survey finds most Americans don’t believe their tradition is the only way to eternal life — even if the denomination’s teachings say otherwise. The findings, revealed Monday in a survey of 35,000 adults, can either be taken as a positive sign of growing religious tolerance, or disturbing evidence that Americans dismiss or don’t know fundamental teachings of their own faiths.

Among the more startling numbers in the survey, conducted last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, in conflict with traditional evangelical teaching. In all, 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own religion.

While many welcome this as good news, for the follower of Christ who has a high view of Scripture, this news is evidence that American churches are sliding further into apostasy. The plain reading of the Bible leaves no room for assuming that there are ways to God outside of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). The apostle Peter boldly instructed those who crucified Jesus, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12, ESV).

The plain teaching of the Scriptures on this matter finds little approval in 21st-century pluralistic America. Embracing the culture, most American church members have implicitly rejected the Scriptures, at least those Scriptures which run counter to the political correctness of our day.

Of course, nothing is really new. To a very religious first-century Judaism, Jesus taught, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV). Jesus pointed to two ways purportedly leading to God. The banner over each would have said, “This way to heaven.” Yet Jesus himself maintained that the broad gate though which multitudes go to fulfill their desire for eternal life leads to destruction, but the narrow gate and hard way alone leads to life, “and those who find it are few.” Too bad Jesus wasn’t as open-minded as most of his American “followers” today.

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I trust that this weblog will provide a helpful commentary on matters temporal and eternal from a biblical perspective. While my perspective will not be infallible, I trust that it will be helpful and will, hopefully, contribute to a desire to know and live truth.

May God be pleased with this effort. Unto him alone be the glory!

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