Jan 22, 2010

Who Will Be King Over Us?

As Christians we must be very careful what we ask for. After watching political events unfold over the last 20 years, especially the last year, I have been reminded of what will happen if we reject Yahweh as King and seek someone (or something) else to protect and rule over us. He (Yahweh) may give us what we ask for.

I don't know much about politics and don't pretend to be a political analyst or commentator. But this, by the Word of God, I know -- If we, as God's people, look to the State and not to God to save us, then the State will TAKE from us and enslave us.

Listen to these words from 1 Samuel chapter 8: Yahweh says - "... they have rejected me from being king over them. ....... warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them." Then Samuel says, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons ..... He will take your daughters ..... He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and your female servants and the best of your cattle and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves."

This is what we can expect if we reject Yahweh our God and look to the State for our salvation. The State will take and take and take, and ultimately we will become slaves of the one we have chosen to rule over us. By what I have observed, I have to say we are well on our way.


Dec 29, 2009

Gnostic Christianity

Too many Christians view the gospel as a massage of escape from the world God has created. They see the world as corrupt and dying and think that one day Christ will return to take us away from this world to a "spiritual" place called heaven. This is nothing less than evidence that gnosticism is alive and well in the Church in our day.

To understand the gospel more correctly or more fully, we must begin to see that the core message of the gospel is not one of escape, but one of resurrection. God does not abandon His creation -- He takes it up and transforms it. This is most clearly see in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

This is the 'newness' of life that we hope for -- that God will completely transform this world into what He always intended it to be and that, in Christ, we will be a part of that totally transformed world.


Nov 5, 2009

A Christian Against "Christianity"

I am a Christian - but I am often times against "Christianity". I know this sounds strange to many, but let me try to explain.

"Christianity" is often defined (either by actual words or actions) as a particular set of doctrines or a system of ideas. I do not believe that this is what the Church is or was ever meant to be.

"Christianity" is sometimes, more rightly, defined to embrace not only her beliefs (doctrines), but also the practices of the Church. Her liturgies and ways of living in community. -- This is far better, but insofar as the beliefs and practices of Christianity are seen as "religious" beliefs and practices over against "secular" or "political" or "social" practices -- insofar as "Christianity" is seen as a "religious" layer added onto human life -- this definition still misses the mark.

This is the error of "Christianity"!

The Church is a new creation and Christians are those who participate in this new creation. All of the Christian's life is transformed, not just the "religious" part.


Sep 20, 2009

Where Do We Worship?

When God's people (the Church) gather together to worship -- heaven is a place on earth! -- REALLY! We are REALLY in the presence of the Almighty and His heavenly host!

If this is true, how should this effect the way we approach worship?

Sep 17, 2009

I'm Right, You're Wrong

Everyone likes to be right. I like it when I'm right. Makes me feel good about myself. And I sure like to tell others when I'm right. How about you? But when I'm wrong I do my best not to make too much of it.

Within the Church, every denomination from RC to EO and Protestants are more than happy to tell you how right they are. They are more than happy to tell each other (and themselves) how right they are about every theological topic under the sun.

When the topic of unity or ecumenism is broached within the Church the discussions will always deteriorate to the default position of ...... "but I'm right on this or that". Which is another way of pointing out how the other person/denomination/Church is wrong.

One thing I've noticed about conflicts is that the surest way to keep the conflict going is to keep pointing out to the other person how right you are. I've especially learned this within the sanctity of marriage. If I want to really tick my wife off, all I have to do is point out how obvious it should be to her that I am right.

Maybe this insight could be carried over to the problem of disunity within the Body of Christ (The Church). Instead of every person/Church/denomination focusing on all the areas where we are right, maybe we should first focus on all of the areas where we are clearly wrong.

If you think I'm crazy, just try this the next time you're in an argument with your wife, brother, sister, friend, co-worker or whoever. Stop trying to prove you're right and admit to the other person first where you have been wrong. Ask them to forgive you and leave it at that. See how fast they respond to you. See how fast you are reconciled to that person.

Is this the answer to disunity in the Church? It sounds so crazy that it just might work.

Lord, forgive us of the sin of dividing your body and give us the humility to admit that we are wrong.

Sep 5, 2009

Irenaeus on Faith and The Church

"The Church, though dispersed through our the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations132 of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one,"133 and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, "every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess"134 to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all;...."

"As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth."

From Irenaeus' Against Heresies, Chapter 10

Is this what the Church looks like today?


Aug 22, 2009


".... John, the Lord's disciple, went to take a bath at Ephesus, but, seeing Cerinthus inside, he rushed out of the bathhouse without bathing, crying, "Let's get out of here lest the place fall in: Cerinthus, the enemy of truth is inside!" Polycarp himself, when Marcion once met him and asked, "Don't you recognize me?" replied, "I do indeed: I recognize the firstborn of Satan!" So careful were the apostles and their disciples not even to converse with any mutilators of the truth, as Paul also said, "After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned" (Titus 3:10-11)". "

From Book 3 of Irenaeus's Against Heresies (Against Heresies 3.3)

Do we love the truth this much?


Aug 17, 2009

Questions That Only You Can Answer

There seems to be so much discontentment among Christians. I think that much of what we see in the Church today comes from this lack of contentment. Have you noticed all of the different 'programs/ministries' that are offered by local congregations?

One thing that is central to modern philosophies of ministry is that we must offer enough ministries in our local Churches to keep all of our members "plugged in". Modern pastors are scared to death that their members will get bored and go across town to the hip Church with all of the cool ministries that will keep everyone from 'little jr'. to grandma occupied and entertained. ....................phooey!

Someone asked me a question once that really impacted me and the way I evaluate the Christian life (both individually and corporately). It's one of those questions that, I am convinced, is foundational to checking ourselves to make sure our focus is right as Christians. It's foundational to and absolutely necessary for real contentment in the Christian life. And I want to share it with you.

Ready? ........
If everything you have come to know and love about life in the local Church was stripped away, ... (all of the programs: Sunday school, choir, committee meetings, building programs, children's church, VBS, ladies this, men's that, teen whatever.) ... if all of the 'stuff' we do "at Church" was to disappear or be taken away ....................... would Christ alone be enough for you? Would you be content or would you go looking for another Church that had all of the stuff?

Think about this question and be honest with yourself.


Aug 11, 2009

How Many Churches are There?

Can we really say we believe this?

".... And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church;..."

I recite this every week along with brothers and sisters at the local congregation where we worship and commune with the one true and living God. And every week I'm a little saddened when it comes time to say this part of the Creed.

Our 'individualistic' tendencies don't just involve the individual. We exhibit a type of individualism when we think of our local congregation or our denomination as "the Church" and fail to properly discern the whole body of Christ.

We can say we believe in "one holy catholic and apostolic Church" all we want, but until we start living it we don't really believe it!


Jul 25, 2009

The Flock, The whole Flock and Nothing but The Flock

As I have mentioned before, I think that our self-centered, individualistic tendencies are at the root of many of the problems facing today's Church. We too often think of 'Christianity' in terms of "my personal relationship with Jesus" and fail to understand that this 'relationship' does not exist apart from the body of Christ -- The Church.

Ordinarily, the relationship we have with our triune God can only exist within the context of His covenanted body of believers, -- NOT apart from it in our personal prayer closets during our personal quiet times. Don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking against personal devotion. I'm simply trying to put it in perspective.

Our 'Christian' bookstores are full of books on how to strengthen your personal this and personal that. Pastors have come to see their roles as assisting people on their "personal spiritual journeys". Instead of shepherding the flock as a flock (1 Pet. 5:2), pastors have been convinced (by modern philosophies/ methodologies/ seminaries) that their main function is to be 'personal spiritual guides' for individual sheep .......... baaaah.

Have you ever heard, seen or experienced anything like this? Have you ever thought this way yourself? ............. What say you?


Jul 20, 2009

I Think We Can Fix It!

This pretty much sums up the modern approach to 'doing' Church.

Jul 15, 2009

WHAT is 'The Gospel'?

What is the Gospel?

Seems like an easy enough question, right? Ask this question of most Christians and you will probably get an answer that goes something like this:
"It is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. - And, by grace through faith, if you believe in Him (Jesus), God will credit Jesus' righteousness to you and your sin to Him so that you will have had your sins atoned for on the cross and you will be justified in the sight of God." --(At this point some may add that this is what qualifies you for heaven when you die.)

All things being equal, I don't think that statements like this are all together wrong or unbiblical. What I do think is that this statement (or some variation of it) doesn't answer the question that was asked. Statements like this are better suited for questions of HOW God has achieved His gospel purposes (IMO). The how of the gospel and the what of the gospel, while inextricably linked, are simply not the same thing.

If my premise is correct, this still leaves the original question unanswered. So I'll ask it again. WHAT is the Gospel?

Wade B.

Jul 7, 2009

Marks Of The Modern "Evanjellyfish"

The following is taken from an article by Mike Scruggs which you can find here. These are the "five points of Evanjellyfish Christianity". Remember that you don't have to embrace all five points to be an Evanjellyfish. By affirming any one of these points you may be well on your way down the road to modern Evanjellyfishism.

He modifies the TULIP acronym that commonly denotes the popular "five points of Calvinism".

T = TOLERANCE. The underlying principle here is that all moral or theological truths are relative and equal no matter what their source.

U = UNTHINKING CONFORMITY to majority or popular opinion, especially if supported by the mainstream media, publishing, and educational institutions. Again, for the evanjellyfish Christian, acceptance and respectability are more important than truth.

L = LIBERTY of conscience in ALL things. Contrary to traditional and especially Reformed Christianity in which there is a place for liberty of conscience on questions not addressed or given any ethical preference in Scripture, the evanjellyfish Christian has a remarkable tendency to apply this liberty to everything that they choose.

I = the notion that INEQUALITY IS EVIL. There are, of course, many areas where some sorts of equality are preferable, such as equal justice under the law, etc. However, the evanjellyfish Christian expands the concept to areas that make no common sense and cannot be justified by Scripture or a study of nature. It is particularly repugnant to them that any differences in intellect, personality, and aptitudes exist among mankind.

P = The principle is PERSONAL PEACE and PROSPERITY at any PRICE. There is hardly any truth they will not ignore to achieve this. They will go along with the silliest and most inane proposals by demagogues, charlatans, and crackpots, so long as their acceptance, respectability, personal peace, and prosperity can remain intact.

So, where do you stand? Are you an "Evanjellyfish"?

Jul 6, 2009


How do we know what God has created us to be? -- By looking at Him. When we are informed in Genesis that we were created "in His own image"(Gen 1:26), we are given great insight into where we should look to figure out 'who' we are and 'what' we have been created for.

One thing that strikes me about the nature of God is that He is both one and many. He has revealed to us that He has eternally existed as a Trinity or as a community. Specifically, God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect unity, a community of self-giving love. Thus, as His people, we have been recreated in Christ to live as a community and to be a reflection of God's self-giving love.

This community is the new creation. This community is the new humanity. This community is the Church.

Jul 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. ..."

So what should we say to those who claim that "God should be kept out of government"?

Jul 3, 2009


"Religion is private: This is the heresy of Christianity in a nutshell." -- Peter J. Leithart


Some Evangelicals fail to see The Church's rituals as vital to the life of the Church because they have convinced themselves (or have been convinced by their pastors) that rituals, while vital to the 'Old Testament System', have been done away with by Christ under the 'New Testament System'. Thus they see any type of 'ritual' by the Church to be a reversion back to the "old" ways.

To 'modern' people (like us) rituals that involve a sacrifice and blood seem like some sort of throw-back to less civilized times. After all, didn't Jesus do away with the need for bloody sacrifice and performing of rituals? ..... An honest look at the scriptures must conclude that the answer to this is NO! We still offer to God a bloody sacrifice for the remission of our sins and through the ritual of the Lord's Supper remind YHWH and ourselves of the "blood of the New Covenant which is poured out for many" (Mark 14:24).

What we too often fail to realize is that Jesus didn't do away with sacrifice or ritual. What He did was take sacrifice and ritual up into Himself and transform them ............. make them "new". I guess you could say that under the New Covenant, sacrifice and ritual have been 'born again'.

Our rituals have been transformed from rituals of exclusion to rituals of inclusion. They have been instituted to teach us that "the Gospel" is not about you or me individually, but about the "New community" that has been created in Christ. This is what the common bath "One Baptism" and the common meal "One Cup and One Loaf" are all about. They teach us that we must die to self. They teach us that we must become like Jesus.

Jesus' ushering in the New Covenant did not mark a movement from a time of ritual to a time of non-ritual. It marked a time of change in the rituals we have been commanded to perform as God's people.

Jun 24, 2009


"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. And to be steady on all the battle fields besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."        --Martin Luther

The "Modern" Church and the Sacraments

Most modern Churches in Protestantism have relegated the Sacraments (Ordinances for most) to what can best be described as appendixes to "real ministry". In today's Church it isn't unusual to see pastors delay Baptism for new converts for months and sometimes years. In today's Church it isn't considered abnormal to take the bread and wine(or Welch's) of The Supper once per year. Or, if you're lucky, once per quarter. ............. but Why?

I'm convinced that the answer is to be found in the 'culture of individualism' which has infiltrated the Church. I think this is most clear with regard to The Lord's Supper, but is also true for Baptism. In both, it is a case of a rejection of 'ritual'. And this rejection of ritual is rooted in favoring individualism over community. There are certainly other factors involved, like rationalism and the Protestant tendency to idolize the intellect, but individualism is at the root. 

The ritual of Baptism is about inclusion into the community (body) of Christ and the ritual of the Lord's Supper is all about the sustaining of that community. The Sacraments communicate to us and to the world (at least in part) that in Christ we have forsaken our individualism and self-centeredness for community. This community is the "new man" or the "new creation" that Christ has brought about by His life, death and resurrection. 

To reject the Sacraments or treat them as unimportant appendixes to the life of the Church is to embrace modern culture's disdain for ritual. Modern culture rejects ritual because it is seen as an infringement on 'individual rights'. 

Is it any wonder that the "modern" Church has all but rejected our 'rituals'?

Wade B.

Jun 21, 2009

What is man?

What a question: "What is man?". This is the question the Psalmist asks in Psalm 8. Depending on who you ask, you are likely to get very different answers. Some 'reformed' folk tend to take the position that man is, always was and always will be nothing more than "a worm", scum or dung. 

These teachers keep whole congregations in a constant state of introspection, examining and re-examining themselves for sin. They do this because they are convinced that in order to maintain a proper view of God's exalted position and holiness, all Christians must continually view themselves in as lowly and miserable a way as possible. These teachers will interpret Psalm 8 to prove man's lowly place in God's created order. 

Is this a Biblical view? ..... I am convinced otherwise. The Bible teaches that man is the pinnacle of all of God's creation. 

The Church has been commanded to sing Psalm 8 in order to teach us of our exalted place among all of God's wonderful creation -- not to beat us down and make us feel worthless.  We are to praise, honor and glorify YHWH because He has made man "a little lower than God and crowned him with glory and honor" (Ps. 8:5).  Did you catch that? The Psalmist, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, affirms the lofty position of man, not the lowly position. He then goes on to sum up the work which God gave man to do in verse 6 when he says, "You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands.". This only affirms what we already should have known from Genesis 1:26, that man was created in the "image" of  God and that we were to "rule" over His creation.

So, what is man? Well, the "new man" (the Church), is that new creation of God that is to be all that God has always intended man to be. In Christ we are to be servant-rulers, and guardians. We are to be king-priests. We are to reflect the one in whose image we have been recreated. In short, we are to be like Jesus. 

To the extent that the Church fails to see "who we are", we will fail in our mission to transform this world for the glory of God. We will fail to properly reflect the true image of God. 

But if we will begin to see ourselves rightly, as the pinnacle of creation, created to serve, rule and guard all of God's works, then we can begin to answer the question: "what is man?".

Wade B.