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Archive for the ‘truth’ Category

While we relate the words above to exasperated parents wearied by the incessant “why’s” of their non-comprehending children, I have something a bit different in mind. “Because I say so” is the principle by which truth is established in our culture.

Take, for instance, the silly and adolescent opposition by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Chick-fil-A’s building a new restaurant in Chicago: “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”

The controversy, of course, goes back to the views of Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s president, concerning homosexual marriage: “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit.” He went on to say, “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

Mayor Emanuel’s former boss, President Obama, ran for the presidency as a proponent of traditional marriage: “I believe that marriage is between a man and woman and I am not in favor of gay marriage.” Well, that was so 2008 and necessary to win the election. Sensing a change in the political winds, President Obama now states, “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

And now, according to Baptist Press, “The Democratic Party’s new platform is set to include a plank endorsing the legalization of gay marriage, marking the first time that either major party has taken such a position, several media outlets reported Monday (July 30).” No one should be surprised.

Evidently Mr. Emanuel had little problem with then-Senator Obama’s opposition to homosexual marriage. What was a good idea in 2008, however, no longer reflects “Chicago values.” Why? Because Mr. Emanuel says so. The definition of marriage must be changed. Why?  Because President Obama, ever the political opportunist, says so. Recognition of homosexual marriage is a must. Why? Because the Democratic Party says so.

Rahm Emanuel, President Obama, the Democratic Party, and many other Americans, including Republicans who also support homosexual marriage though the party as a whole does not, have simply set themselves against God. Truth cannot be simply whatever we say. Jesus said, “I am the . . . truth” (John 14:6). The Scriptures clearly reveal that marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen 2:23-24; Matt 19:4-6). Homosexuality is clearly condemned in both the Old and the New Testaments (Gen 19:1–11; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:26–27; 1 Cor 6:9–11; 1 Tim 1:8–10). To say otherwise is simply dishonest.

Mr. Cathy stands in stark and courageous contrast to the pandering Emanuels, Obamas, and other left-wing activists that have hijacked the Democratic Party and given us people like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as national leaders: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘We know better than You’ as to what constitutes a marriage. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a proud, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

“Because I say so”? I wouldn’t try that at the final judgment.

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The April 22-24, 2011 issue of USA Weekend featured an article on Joel Osteen entitled “My gift is encouragement.” Writer Cathy Lynn Grossman accurately notes that “quite possibly no one smiles more, ear to ear, day after day, than Pastor Joel Osteen.” She continues, “He is the blue-eyed beaming Texas preacher known worldwide for exuberant declarations of health, prosperity, wisdom, confidence, and courage.”

There are some things about Osteen that I like. He hasn’t felt the need to don the “it-doesn’t-matter-what-you-wear” jeans and casual shirt attire of preachers seeking to relate to people. Osteen still wears a suit and tie, dressing as though worship were a serious activity.

Osteen is a positive person, and that is attractive. No one like a sour puss, someone whose constant dour expression can snuff out the candles of an octogenarian’s birthday cake with one quick glance.

Another positive is that Osteen has not given into political correctness by failing to call homosexuality a sin. He does soften his declaration by saying that homosexuality is not “God’s best for a person’s life,” but at least he doesn’t characterize deviancy as something to be celebrated, as do many theological liberals.

Despite Osteen’s appeal, his preaching entails critical problems. Grossman, while praising Osteen, unintentionally reveals a key issue with Osteen’s brand of preaching: “Small wonder that Osteen, 48, has built up the nation’s largest congregation by far, thronged by people in Houston and global visitors who come to hear about hope and God’s love—not his wrath. Let others carry spears in the culture wars and veer into politics: Osteen is the Lord’s Pollyanna, looking on the bright side of all trouble and travail.” Magnifying God’s love at the expense of his wrath, Osteen’s hearers fail to get the message of what makes God’s love “love.”

The description of Osteen as Pollyanna points to the superficiality of Osteen’s message. There really is little there but nice sounding but relatively meaningless platitudes. “We are victors, not victims.” “Magnify God, not your problems.” Grossman writes, “In Osteen’s sermons, bad times can be reimagined as opportunities. Someone left you? Lost your job? Thank God! You didn’t need that person. A better job awaits. ‘God wants to double your blessings as he did for Job,’ he says.”

Misusing Scripture is the norm in Osteen’s preaching. “I tell people, ‘You are created a masterpiece.’ If you are missing the mark, that’s what sin is. You are missing the best of what God offers you.” Actually, “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10) comes on the heels of “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is the regenerated follower of Christ who is God’s “masterpiece,” not the unsaved individual who is looking for a divine fix for his problems.

All of this points to the central problem with Osteen’s brand of Christianity: it is man-centered, not God-centered. Everything is about making life better, more pleasurable, more useful, more worthwhile, more meaningful. The centrality of the glory of God is absent. Christ’s dying to reconcile God to man is not in the picture. Richard Niebuhr’s criticism of early-twentieth-century Protestant liberalism could justly be leveled at Osteen prosperity preaching: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” In his book Become a Better You, Osteen writes, “As long as you’re doing your best and desire to do what’s right according to God’s Word, you can be assured God is pleased with you.” In essence, Osteen preaches “another gospel” and stands under the condemnation of Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

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I doubt any person has influenced my understanding of Christianity and preaching more than John MacArthur. A series of MacArthur’s audio cassette tapes loaned to me by a former missionary to Brazil opened my mind and heart and understanding to the concept that the glory of God is central to everything. That must have been about 1980, and I’ve followed Dr. MacArthur’s ministry since and am thankful to God for it.

Tim Chailles recently posted a two-part series entitled “10 Questions with John MacArthur.” I encourage you to read and think carefully through Dr. MacArthur’s responses. The first five questions are here, and the latter five are here.

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This video by Paul Washer accurately, yet sadly, reveals what goes on in far too many, if not the majority, of churches in the United States. Washer is right in saying that there are godly people in such churches who want to learn truth and lead godly lives. Many of these people remain in carnal churches in hope of turning things around. Rarely does that happen. Should true believers remain in carnal churches?

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In its May 18 issue, the New York Times reported that Richard Blumenthal, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, made a bogus claim about his prior military service.

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

As is now widely known, Mr. Blumenthal never served in Vietnam, received several deferments to avoid the draft, and was able to get into the Marine Reserves in 1970 when his last deferment appeared to be in jeopardy. Confronted with the fact that his speech was betrayed by his record, Mr. Blumenthal responded like a politician.

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility,” Mr. Blumenthal said at a packed news conference at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

The bottom line is that Mr. Blumenthal has been put on public display as a liar, and he continues to lie. He claims to “take full responsibility” but characterizes his statements about service in Vietnam as “a few misplaced words.” And he says defiantly, “I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

Mr. Blumenthal encapsulates the fallen condition of humans. He is a sinner but fails fully to acknowledge he is a sinner. He makes mistakes, in his view, but does not intentionally lie. Yet there is no way around it—when what a person claims is contradicted by what he has done, he has lied. Taking full responsibility would be to admit the lie, repenting of it and seeking forgiveness.

This is a lesson in truth-telling for all of us, and the Bible warns us of eternal, not merely temporal, consequences of being a liar:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8 [ESV]).

And the Bible shows us that Christ alone is the hope for repentant sinners:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11 [ESV]).

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