Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One Hand Slapping...


Julie, over at "One Hand Clapping" hosted a rousing and enlightening discussion - ostensibly about John Piper's recent comments about the importance of doctrinal consistency in teaching at a church or seminary. He had, apparently, the unmitigated gall to suggest - as a Reformed pastor - the following (and be prepared for a SHOCK):

"Here’s my rule of thumb: the more responsible a person is to shape the thoughts of others about God, the less Arminianism should be tolerated. Therefore church members should not be excommunicated for this view but elders and pastors and seminary and college teachers should be expected to hold the more fully biblical view of grace.

Do you separate from a denomination that allows pastors and seminary teachers to believe and teach this error? You can. We do. Oh, how we need discernment concerning how helpful you might be to the cause of Christ and his truth."

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Hard to believe, isn't it? What an "arrogant" thing to say! Who does he think he is?

Can you believe the temerity of a Calvinist having a hard time with Arminian theology being taught? Arminians would NEVER object to Calvinism being taught, would they? (By the way, I HATE the labels... and I don't see "Calvinism" starting with Calvin: It was Augustinianism before Calvin, Pauline before Augustine and Biblical before that. Blame Jesus for having the nerve to put that doctrine in His Bible!) Well, we certainly wouldn't want consistency in thinking or conviction in belief - the most important thing isn't a passionate pursuit of the Truth, because apparently that's not knowable (or not thinking it is isn't "humble").

We need "humility" in our beliefs - I'm right, but you're right too. That's the ticket. Where is Mr. Rogers when we need him? Sing along, kids!
I think you're a special person
And I like your ins and outsides.
Everbody's fancy.
Everybody's fine.
Your body's fancy and so is mine.

Anyway, check out the enlightening, profitable discussion that ensued with the "emerging church" folks on Julie's blog - I think it's a great commentary on "emerging church" thinking - and priorities. Note that Northern Illinois has its own "cussing pastor" too!

And feel free to let me know what you think. In my view, it's so sad. And I'm wondering when the adults are going to show up and start asking some legitimate questions about what is going on in the name of "church" these days.

This leads very nicely into my next series - If I can ever get time to start it! Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Back to School... Part 7

As we've followed along With Christ in the School of Prayer, we've seen that God's will and purpose is to be our first priority - actually, it is our only priority because of the great truths that if God is our Father, He knows, cares and meets our needs and that we have reason to have full assurance and confidence in this because of His character and His promise. And our real need is consistent with God's will and purpose... to bring Glory and Honor to Him.

As we grow to see our lives as instruments in bringing glory to God, as a result of God's working in us, how can we not trust Him more? How can we not see more and more clearly our circumstances in light of God's plan rather than merely from the perspective of our comfort?

If you are truly God's child, do you judge your circumstances as "fair or unfair"? Do you evaluate them by how comfortable you are? Or do you look at life asking how you can, this day, bring glory to God regardless of your circumstance?

If God has you in a place that feels painful now, is He in control - or is He constrained by you and your actions? So many who name the name of Christ seem to think that they are in control of God - that while "He longs" to bless us, He can't do so without our cooperation. But that isn't the God of the Bible! He wills it, and He brings it to pass. And ALL THINGS work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Today, we finish this lesson by looking at our final need: Protection from the evil one. And like the other petitions in this model prayer, it's all about God. Its from Him and for Him. No wonder this prayer ends with the profound truth and declaration that ALL control (the Kingdom), ALL AUTHORITY (the Power) and ALL CREDIT (the Glory) belong to God and Him alone.

Here are my final questions from this little lesson (and be careful how quickly you answer!):
  • When you pray, who is your focus - is it you, or is it God?
  • What is the desired outcome or goal of your prayer - is it a change in your circumstance or is it God's Glory?
  • What is your view of God - is it that He is your Father, and you can not only trust Him but subordinate your will to His... or does God need to be convinced (or even manipulated) into obeying you?
  • In the difficult circumstances of life, do you see God as your loving Father - no matter how things go for you - and the Sovereign Lord of the Universe who is trustworthy? Or do you see God as a really nice - but functionally impotent "semi-deity" who is hindered by your will and action?
Remember, we are "with Christ" in the school of prayer... when we remember His example, we see the focus on God's priority - and the confidence in God's provision. And when we remember His promised presence, we can take courage to pray in this manner which is - as we really consider it - so unlike us!

"‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

Our daily bread, the pardon of our sins, and then our being kept from all sin and the power of the evil one, in these three petitions all our personal need is comprehended.

The prayer for bread and pardon must be accompanied by the surrender to live in all things in holy obedience to the Father’s will, and the believing prayer in everything to be kept by the power of the indwelling Spirit from the power of the evil one.

Children of God!
it is thus Jesus would have us to pray to the Father in heaven. O let His Name, and Kingdom, and Will, have the first place in our love; His providing, and pardoning, and keeping love will be our sure portion. So the prayer will lead us up to the true child-life: the Father all to the child, the Father all for the child.

We shall understand how Father and child,
the Thine and the Our, are all one, and how the heart that begins its prayer with the God-devoted THINE, will have the power in faith to speak out the OUR too.

Such prayer will, indeed, be the fellowship and interchange of love, always bringing us back in trust and worship to Him who is not only the Beginning but the End: ‘FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER, AMEN.’ Son of the Father, teach us to pray, ‘OUR FATHER.’ ‘LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.’"