Biblical Fundamentalism*

(Volume 22, Issue 2, Mar/Apr 2016) I am a Fundamentalist. There I said it. And yet, although I inherited a few guns I don’t know where the bullets are. I don’t hate anyone, not even my neighbor whose cat keeps my songbird population thinned out. Knowing my own weaknesses and sinfulness I refrain from being particularly judgmental of others. Some might call me a “Bible-thumper” but I have not actually thumped anyone with a Bible since junior high when I was trying to impress the girls (I learned many years later that punching girls did not impress them nearly as much as I originally thought). I have some strong preferences and opinions about everything from politics to entertainment (just ask me), but I recognize that not everyone shares all my views and I am at peace with that. I believe in separation from sinful practices and compromising associations, but I…

My Favorite Books – Part 4

(Volume 21, Issue 3 May/June 2015) Introduction: This is the fourth time I have attempted to list books that I find are of considerable value. This is an important endeavor for a number of reasons. First, thousands of Christian books are published every year, yet the majority of these are superficial at best and often counterproductive to spiritual maturity, and many others are heretical. With the limited time that each of us has we need to be exposed to materials which enhance growth, draw us to Christ and are biblically sound. This list aims to offer just such books in a variety of areas. Secondly, as I critique and review books on a regular basis I find that many volumes combine some excellent teaching and insights with unbiblical concepts. My reviews attempt to reveal “the good, the bad and the ugly” within these works. And while no book except the…

Love Wins – Universalism’s New Champion

(June/July 2011 – Volume 17, Issue 3) There was so much hype surrounding the publication of Rob Bells new book Love Wins that even before it was released emotional critiques were flooding the Internet and the bloggers were in full swing. When John Piper, who had not yet read the book, tweeted three little words, “Farewell Rob Bell,” the blogosphere exploded and the war was on. Bell, who claims credentials within the evangelical camp, was purported to be teaching universalism. When the book was finally on the market it immediately rose to the top of everybody’s bestsellers list. Bell was featured on the cover of Time magazine, interviewed on both secular and Christian television and radio programs and perhaps became the “rock star” that Time claimed he was some years ago. When I reluctantly determined I needed to read what everybody was talking about I was speaking at a conference…

Important Books

(June/July 2010 – Volume 16, Issue 3) The evangelical press is pouring out hundreds of new books every year, most are forgettable but a few leave a valuable imprint upon the Christian community.  Given the limited amount of time that even a serious student has to read it is important that attention is given to books that make a difference.  I would like to devote this edition of Think on These Things to a few recent volumes that have caught the attention of many today.  These are books that I am being asked about via e-mail or as I travel to conferences.  Some are most helpful, others are of a serious concern, and others are mixed bag. Crazy Love by Francis Chan The basic thesis of Crazy Love is sound.  Since God loves us with a crazy, inexplicable love, our love for Him should be just as crazy and our…

My Favorite Books – Part 3

(December 2009/January 2010 – Volume 15, Issue 7) A little over five years ago I wrote two papers identifying my favorite books in various categories.  At this time I want to supplement that list for a couple of reasons.  First, as readers of my articles and book reviews know, Think on These Things is largely a discernment ministry and, as such, many of our reviews are of a warning nature.  Some have even asked if I am in agreement with any book.  My standard answer is that I certainly am, as long as, and to the extent that, the book is faithful to Scripture.  Realizing that all human efforts fall short at some point, it is important that we endeavor to be Bereans and examine books, not for the purpose of criticism, but for their compliance to the revealed Word of God.  With that in mind, listed below are numerous…

What, Me Worry?

(February 1998 – Volume 4, Issue 2)  In Jay Adams’ little booklet What to Do About Worry, he begins with this humorous tale: Joe used to worry all the time about everything, in fact, his friends knew him as a worrier. One day Bill was walking down the street when he saw his worrying friend bouncing along as happy as any man could be. Joe was actually whistling, humming and wearing a huge smile; he looked as if he did not have a care in the world. Bill could hardly believe his eyes — it was obvious that a radical transformation had taken place. He stopped Joe and added, “Joe, what’s happened to you? You don’t seem worried anymore; I never saw a happier man.” Joe replied, “It’s wonderful, Bill. I haven’t worried for several weeks now.” Bill continued, “That’s great — how did you manage it? What brought about the…

Trusting God

(February 1996 – Volume 2, Issue 4)  Our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows only that which is for His glory and our good to come into our lives. Trusting God can often be a difficult thing even for the child of God. However, the most difficult time for us to trust Him is during times of adversity. During such times the believer needs to understand that the Scriptures teach three essential truths about God: God is completely sovereign; God is infinite in wisdom; God is perfect in love. God in his love always wills what is best for us (Rom 8:28). In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about. GOD IS COMPLETELY SOVEREIGN The question that many ask is if God is both powerful and good, why is there…

The Sovereignty of God – Part 3

(November 2001 – Volume 7, Issue 10)  Few words from Scripture both encourage and challenge us more than James 1:2, Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. When God inspired James to pen these immortal words could He possibly have known that a crazed sect of Islamic fanatics would one day slam hijacked airliners into huge buildings crammed full of innocent people? And if He knew, why did He allow such wicked plans to succeed? Could He not have done something to stop the terrorists? At the very least, when God saw where those 767s were headed surely He could have stepped in and stopped this senseless act. Since He did not, we are left with only a few options. Maybe God did not know any more about the hijackings than we did; maybe He watched things unfold as they were happening and was totally caught off…

The Sovereignty of God – Part 2

(October 2001 – Volume 7, Issue 9)  One of the hardest things I have ever done was to walk away for the last time from the house in which I had been raised. My parents had both passed away and it was no longer feasible for my siblings and I to keep the homestead, so we had to sell. It broke my heart because it closed a chapter in my life that I did not want to close. I felt a huge loss, a keen disappointment, as I realized afresh that nothing in this life is permanent and almost everything ultimately comes up short of expectations. Of course such loss is minor compared to the tragedies that many people, even godly people, face every day. Seeing this as wrong and unfair many complain, as we saw last time, “If God is truly loving and all-powerful then how can He stand by…

The Sovereignty of God – Part 1

(September 2001 – Volume 7, Issue 8)  “All of life runs unsettlingly close to the ditch,” Joseph Stowell assures us in The Upside of Down (p. 17). But that does not mean we like such a life, much less, understand it. Even while we consistently and constantly remind our children that life isn’t fair, down deep we somehow believe it should be. This concept is often reinforced by preachers and Christian authors who all but promise that if we honor God then surely God will honor us – and that in the form of tangible reward and blessing. So, it catches many of us by surprise when God doesn’t seem to keep His end of the deal. If instead of my “borders being enlarged” God sees fit to take away my job, or shrink my bank account, or saddle me with a prolonged and painful illness, then our conclusion too often…

The Purpose-Driven Life: An Evaluation – Part 2

In my last paper I evaluated Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life, focusing almost entirely on his use, or rather misuse, of Scripture. Far too often Warren plays fast and loose with the Word of God, and he does so in rather innovative ways that are going undetected by many. Let’s continue to examine some examples of Warren’s creative use of Scripture. I Corinthians 2:7 In chapter one, Warren makes several statements with which I would agree. He writes that the Bible “explains what no self-help or philosophy book could know” (p. 20). He then quotes 1 Corinthians 2:7 from The Message paraphrase as support: God’s wisdom… goes deep into the interior of his purposes…. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest – what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us (emphasis mine throughout). Let’s first compare this to a good translation.…

The Purpose-Driven Life: An Evaluation – Part 1

(October 2003 – Volume 9, Issue 10)  In our last paper I identified three relatively recent areas of concern in relationship to the Scriptures. First, there are the new hermeneutical approaches that either emphasize the subjective over the objective interpretation of Scripture, or allow for preunderstanding to be brought to the Word. The result is that the reader sits in judgment over the meaning of the text rather than allowing the Word to speak for itself. Next, I discussed some modern translations that have moved away from a literal philosophy to a dynamic-equivalent approach. I argued that the freer the translation the more interpretation is taking place by the translators, and this often takes place at the expense of the objective meaning of the passage. These two concerns lead naturally to the third. If the reader is free to alter the meaning of the objective biblical text due to his own…

The Lord Told Me – I Think!

(September 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 9)  In a newsletter published by a conservative Baptist denomination, a story is presented concerning one of its members. Deployed in Iraq , this middle aged soldier revealed that often, as he wrestles with problems of various types, “God just reveals the answer to me.” A leader from his church back home also claims to have heard from the Lord. “The Lord told me,” he says, “That this young man is going to be known as a builder, not a destroyer in Iraq .” So far his prophecy seems to have come true for, although the soldier has been involved in combat, his “day job” is to rebuild schools and water treatment plants. Just this week I received an e-mail from a gentleman who wrote, “Jesus has commanded me through the Holy Spirit to teach people how to pray, teach them the truth about their…

The Law and the Christian – Part 2

(June/July 1998 – Volume 4, Issue 6)  If you are like me, occasionally you are unable to fall asleep. When I lose sleep it is usually because my mind is in gear over some matter of concern. It might be family or financial issues, church problems, burdens for people, or deadlines I am facing. I have seldom lost sleep because I was mulling over theological issues — although that would be a more productive use of my time. I mean, which is more important, my understanding of God and Scripture, or how I am going to save for retirement? We know the right answer to a question like that, but as has been said, the urgent often takes precedent over the important. In this vein, how much time have you given to thinking about the place of the Mosaic Law in the life of the believer. While few Christians are lying…

The Law and the Christian – Part 1

(May 1998 – Volume 4, Issue 5) A Tale From Long Ago Once upon a time, in a remote and strange country, lived a young couple. From all outward appearances theirs was a happy marriage. The husband, whose name was Nomos (or Law), was good and righteous — and even holy (Romans 7:12). While his demands were many (613 of them according to his wife) and strict, he could never be accused of acting selfishly or sinfully. In all of his dealings he was perfect. Nomos’s wife, on the other hand, was a different piece of work. Her sole obligation in life was to be obedient to her husband. Her life was simple and straight forward. If she would follow her husband’s demands, her life would be blessed and happy; if on the other hand she rebelled, she would be cursed and miserable (Deuteronomy 11:26ff). With such a choice, any rational…

The History of Think on These Things

(June 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 6)  This past winter Think on These Things Ministries quietly celebrated its 10-year anniversary. As we take time to reflect back over this past decade, we marvel at the many dear and like-minded friends who have partnered with us to ring loud the timeless and uncompromising truths of the precious Word of God. In this month’s edition of Think on These Things we thought it might be enjoyable to share with you the many exciting ways God has used this humble, yet vital outreach ministry of Southern View Chapel for His glory. Front (L to R): Kris Cole, Linda Kestner, Bev Byerline, Esther Rader(Office Staff); Marsha Gilley, Proof ReaderBack (L to R): Doug Kestner, Multimedia; Dave Cunningham,Director of Operations; Don Rader, Editor; Doug Cantrall, Editor;Gary Gilley, General Editor & AuthorNot Pictured: Angie Hodel, Proof Reader   Many of you are aware that Think on These…

The Gospel According to Warren

(July 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 7)  No one has exemplified the market-driven approach better than Rick Warren, pastor of the huge Saddleback Church in southern California and author of The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life. While Warren is open and up-front about his philosophy, strategy and methods, nevertheless things are not always as they appear. For example, “purpose-driven” sounds better than “market-driven” but it is basically the same thing. In his book The Purpose-Driven Life, his opening statement is, “It is not about you,” then turns around and writes a whole book about “you.” He belittles pop-psychology then repeatedly promotes it by simply calling it something else. He publicly cuts ties with Robert Schuller, then regurgitates some of the most odious things that Schuller has been teaching for thirty years. He claims commitment to the Scriptures then undermines them at almost every turn. He will tell his followers that…

The Enjoyment of Life, a Gift from God – Part 2

(February 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 2) Introduction Scripture never implies that life is easy. Living with sinful people in a sin-infested world, the actual domain of the father of sin (the devil), should serve as a clue that our journey through this life was not meant to be smooth. As God’s children we will never be at home on the earth; we will never settle down or become too comfortable. But that does not mean that our journey here has to be miserable. The Scriptures often speak of joy and even happiness in this life. The path, however, from the misery that may be ours, to the joy that should be ours, is littered with obstacles. We examined some of those obstacles in our last paper. They included the busyness of life, a herd-mentality, distorted values, the desire to be entertained, people, sin, and wrong attitudes. In this paper…

The Enjoyment of Life, a Gift from God – Part 1

(January 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 1) A Glimpse into the Book of Ecclesiastes No book in the Bible goes deeper in exploring the meaning and purpose of everyday life than the book of Ecclesiastes. There you will find no pious cliches about the ease and simplicity of living. Nor will those who are struggling with questions and perplexities be told that they are living in sin. Rather, Ecclesiastes, like Psalms, encourages careful and honest evaluation of our existence “under the sun.” That kind of evaluation may very well cause us to feel frustrated and disappointed with many things but will ultimately lead us to the only Source of true life. One of the great questions of all time is, “What is life all about?” Does life really have a purpose, or must we be content to just live out our days the best we know how? Os Guiness, in…

Sports and the Christian

(July 2006 – Volume 12, Issue 7)  It is amazing to think that perhaps the most popular song in America today is “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Think about it. During the seventh-inning stretch at nearly every ballpark in the country, millions and millions of fans sing this silly but addictively catchy little song. We all know it. We can all sing it (“for it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the ol’ ballgame!”). Why would such a silly song about a ballgame be so popular? Why does my six-year old daughter know most of the words to that song? Why do grown men and women fumble around with the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” but know every word to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”? The answer to all of these questions is no less than obvious—it is because we live in a global culture that is…

Selling Faith – Values and Ethics

(February 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 2)  In a recent edition of the Reader’s Digest Melinda Henneberger, in an article entitled “Selling Faith,” writes about a rising trend in the mass marketing of “Christian oriented” products. The term “Christian oriented” is defined as anything associated in any way with the Bible or Christian worldview. Christian oriented products include diet books and plans, nutritional supplements, clothing, consumer electronics, and music, all of which purport to be, at least in some way, associated with the God of the Bible. A quick search of the Internet confirms Mrs. Hennberger’s article. Christians can buy Christian video games, hire Christian private investigators, and purchase Christian skin care products. According to an article by Lynn Harris, writing for Salon.com, Christians can even buy goats from a Christian goat breeder, if they should happen to find themselves in the market (Harris, 2005). The plethora of Christian products and…

My Favorite Books – Part 2

(September 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 9)  Last month’s Think on These Things article listed a number of my favorite books in the categories of biography, fiction and Christian living. In this edition we will pick up where we left off, beginning with theology. THEOLOGY David Wells has written three marvelous books that might be defined as practical theology. No Place for Truth is a call for the evangelical church to return to the serious study of theology. God in the Wasteland is centered on the doctrine of God and Losing Our Virtue is Wells’ examination of anthropology. I hope he writes another dozen books in the series. John MacArthur opened a can of worms when he wrote The Gospel According to Jesus and Faith Works. It is my opinion that he somewhat overreacted to easy believism and occasionally overstates his case. However, his position is fundamentally sound and worth studying…

My Favorite Books – Part 1

(August 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 8)  I entered the ministry 31 years ago at the age of 22 with many dreams and goals, most of which were of a nebulous and general nature (e.g. to remain faithful, teach the Word, be devoted to prayer, build a church). I desired to be a diligent student of Scripture, Christian living and the world in which we live. The one specific, measurable goal that I set for myself was to read on average one book per week for the rest of my life. I have made it my habit to spend the first 2 to 3 hours of every day in serious reading, and I seldom go anywhere without a book tucked under my arm. It is surprising how much a person can read while they wait for doctors and such. As a result, by God’s grace, I have been able to come…

Love for an Offensive Gospel

(November 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 11)  Virtually all students of the Scriptures would agree that the church exists for two basic purposes: evangelism and edification. We are called to share the gospel with lost souls (Romans 10:14) and to disciple those who come to Christ (Matthew 28:19). Edification takes place as the local church gathers together to be taught the Word and to minister to one another (Ephesians 4:11-16; I Corinthians 12). Evangelism is to take place in the community as the church scatters (Matthew 28:19, 20; Romans 10:14).

Guilt

(June 2003 – Volume 9, Issue 6)  In Edgar Allan Poe’s masterpiece The Tell-Tale Heart he writes of a man who had committed the perfect murder. Having hidden the body beneath the floor of his home he felt so confident the police, who were interrogating him, would never discover his secret that he seated himself in a chair directly over the place of the corpse. But as the conversation continued, he began to hear a strange pounding noise in his head – then he realized that the noise was coming from beneath the floor exactly where he had buried the body. This was none other than the beating of the dead man’s heart, he was certain, and wondered why no one else noticed the sound. He began to panic in his efforts to cover the pounding. He talked more loudly, cursed, argued, grated his chair on the floor, but the beating…

God’s Will, Lost or Found – Part 5

(February 2006 – Volume 12, Issue 2)  I was recently handed the Fall 2005 catalog of Quaker Books. The promo found in the catalog for the book Creeds and Quakers reads like this: Quaker spiritual authority lies not in belief systems – in creeds – but in the direct communication between individual Friends and the Divine Spirit. All other forms of authority, “be they written words [including Scripture, I would presume] steeple-house or a clerical hierarchy,” cannot replace this direct communion. This is historic Quaker theology in which the “inner light” emanating from the Divine Spirit carries final authority, even over Scripture. While hotly denied by most, I believe that on a realistic basis much of evangelicalism is not only headed the same direction, but is there now. Few if any evangelicals, or even charismatics for that matter, would be as blatant as the Friends. Almost all would place final authority…

God’s Will, Lost or Found – Part 4

(January 2006 – Volume 12, Issue 1)  Earlier papers explained that the subjective, mystical understanding of the Lord’s leading through inner revelations, rather than through Scripture, is not biblically founded. This paper addresses some of the questions that often arise on the subject. Q. Many in the charismatic movement believe that God is speaking today through prophecies and words of knowledge. They insist that such revelation is not in contradiction to the written Word and that it should not be given equal status or added to Scripture. How does this charismatic view of revelation differ from the noncharismatic view of God speaking and leading through hunches and inner voices? A. Not much if any. In essence, a charismatic theology of revelation has been adopted almost completely by the larger evangelical community. What is missed by both groups is that revelation from God, no matter what format or venue, is still revelation…

God’s Will, Lost or Found – Part 3

(December 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 12)  In our discussion of God’s will, the issue is not whether God has a specific plan for our lives. Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” This verse adds a lot of insight into how God wants us to live. The “things revealed,” the Scriptures, have been given to us in order that we might live according to God’s revealed (sometimes called moral) will. But what about the secret things – the things hidden, the things not made known in the Word? Those things belong to God—they are God’s plan, concealed from us. The point is, rather than attempting to penetrate the heavens to search out the hidden mysteries of God, we should concentrate on what…

God’s Will, Lost or Found – Part 2

(November 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 11)  In Dave Swavely’s helpful book, Decisions Decisions, he writes: Many Christians, who would say that they do not believe in new revelation, are essentially seeking new revelation in their decision making. They may have a theology of “cessationism” in their view of revelation, but in their everyday practice they contradict that theology by trying to hear God say something that is not in the Bible. And I would suggest that their theology is right, so they should let it shape their practical living. God is speaking today, but he is speaking through his Word.[1] But can’t we have it both ways? Can’t we have the completed revelation of God in the Bible and extrabiblical revelations, which do not quite approach inspiration, on the side? O. Palmer Robinson suggests that we can’t: And why not both? Why not the illumination of Scripture coupled with new…

God’s Will, Lost or Found – Part 1

(October 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 10)  A prestigious evangelical graduate school asked Professor X to accept a position as dean. In attempting to determine God’s will on the matter, Professor X writes, “While reading Acts 10 in Peterson’s The Message, I read the words, ‘If God said it is okay, it is okay.’ I felt the Lord applying this Scripture to my situation; I knew then that I had permission to go.” A well respected Christian author writes, “When we feel the Master’s hand and hear His voice in our inner chambers, we should follow Him” (emphasis mine). A writer of devotional classics in one of his books, heaped story upon story of the Lord leading through inner impressions and audible voices. He writes, “It is positively exhilarating, and at the same time very humbling, to be in the company of men so intimately acquainted with God that they expect…

Forgiveness – Part 2

(August 2003 – Volume 9, Issue 8)  WHAT TO DO IF FORGIVENESS IS NOT POSSIBLE Racing through our minds at this point may be all the situations in which forgiveness, in the sense described in our previous paper, is not possible. The first scenario concerns a believer, who, despite all of our efforts in compliance with Scripture, refuses to seek forgiveness. The biblical course of action, according to Matthew 18:15-20, would be church discipline. We cannot forgive this person because to do so is a promise to no longer recognize this sin as a barrier between us and them – when clearly the sin is still on the table. A person who has a heart filled with vengeance, bitterness, or resentment, isn’t ready for forgiveness because he is holding onto his sins refusing to confess and forsake them. For such a person the process of church discipline may be necessary. Remember…

Forgiveness – Part 1

(July 2003 – Volume 9, Issue 7)  There is no greater blessing than forgiveness. First and foremost, we need the forgiveness of God because we are sinners. God sent His Son to die on the cross in order that we might obtain this forgiveness. Secondly, many are in great need of giving and receiving forgiveness on a human level. It is this second subject that will be the object of this study. Many are confused concerning forgiveness largely because secular, humanistic ideas and theories, contrary to Scripture, have been widely accepted as truth. Even Christians often buy whatever the world is selling at the moment, attempt to commingle it with some biblical principles and sanctify it with a few out-of-context passages of Scripture. The result is a strange assortment of ideas and philosophies that fall far short of the truth. Christian literature abounds with such unbiblical concepts as forgiving ourselves (impossible…

Fear

(May 2003 – Volume 9, Issue 5)  A salesman driving on a lonely country road one dark and rainy night had a flat. He opened the trunk – no lug wrench. The light from a farmhouse could be seen dimly up the road. He set out on foot through the driving rain. Surely the farmer would have a lug wrench he could borrow, he thought. Of course, it was late at night – the farmer would be asleep in his warm, dry bed. Maybe he wouldn’t answer the door. And even if he did, he’d be angry at being awakened in the middle of the night. The salesman, picking his way blindly in the dark, stumbled on. By now his shoes and clothing were soaked. Even if the farmer did answer his knock, he would probably shout something like, “What’s the big idea waking me up at this hour!” This thought…

Experiencing God – Part 3

(August 1998 – Volume 4, Issue 7)  In a previous Think on These Things (Vol. 3, Issue 8, 9), we warned of certain errant views and teachings of Henry Blackaby and his book Experiencing God. We were recently surprised when David Hunt dismissed these concerns and threw his weight behind Blackaby. This greatly concerns us since on most issues we stand hand-in-hand with Hunt. More importantly, to many people Hunt’s word is law. Therefore, it is highly conceivable that many of Hunt’s 30,000 readers will uncritically read Experiencing God material and/or attend a seminar on the subject, whereby finding themselves taken in with Blackaby’s brand of mysticism and subjectivity. With all of this in mind, we have decided to write a response to Hunt. The following quote is the complete statement as found in The Berean Call, May 1998. Immediately following will be our response to what Hunt has written. The…

Experiencing God – Part 2

(November 1997 – Volume 3, Issue 9)  In our last paper we began dealing with the widely popular teachings of Henry Blackaby in his best selling book, Experiencing God. While we are in agreement with many things Blackaby teaches we have grave concerns about his approach and use of Scripture. We challenged him with distortion of Scripture along three fronts. Last time we highlighted his general misuse of the Word of God. In this paper we will examine Blackaby’s neo-orthodoxy and highly mystical view of Scripture. Neo-Orthodoxy The second front along which we want to challenge Blackaby is that of his neo-orthodox leanings. We need to carefully explain what we mean here. We are not saying that Blackaby is neo-orthodox, he would surely deny this handle and he may know very little about the system. However, this does not mean that he has not been influenced by neo-orthodox teachings. I recently…

Experiencing God – Part 1

(October 1997 – Volume 3, Issue 8)  A pastor who had read some of my writings encouraged me to read Henry Blackaby’s best selling book, Experiencing God. This pastor apparently either thought that Blackaby’s work would compliment my own, or correct my thinking. Either way, I am afraid that I have proven to be a disappointment to my friend. If he felt that I would appreciate and enjoy Experiencing God I have sadly mis-communicated to my readers. The thrust of this book is so foreign to my views of Scripture that I find it incredible that I could be so misunderstood. If so, I repent and vow to try harder to communicate plainly. On the other hand, if my pastor friend thinks that I would be persuaded by Blackaby’s brand of “story-theology” he is sadly mistaken. Blackaby’s book and seminars are representative of much that I detest in so-called evangelicalism today.…

Civil Disobedience and the Believer

(March 1996 – Volume 2, Issue 5)  In an increasingly secularized world it should surprise no one that the values, standards, and the very laws of God are regularly violated. Many things that are “legal” are nevertheless unbiblical — even sinful. In an effort to deal with such issues numerous organizations and movements (e.g. Operation Rescue; American Family Association; Eagle Forum; the Christian Coalition; and the now defunct Moral Majority) have been founded — most attempting to change our society into a more moral place to live. The issue that believers must address is our response to the legalized sins of society, and the demands of a secular government which often contradict Scripture. This study will attempt to provide a Biblical base in order for us to make wise and godly choices in this regard. WHEN IS THE CHRISTIAN OBLIGATED TO BREAK MAN’S LAW? We must first deal with the basic…

Biblical Guidance in Practice

(January 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 1)  A few months ago I wrote a series of papers on the will of God dealing with issues such as finding His will and whether or not He speaks to us today apart from the Scriptures. The position I have taken is one that I would call a full sola Scriptura understanding of the Christian life. This means that God speaks today exclusively through the authoritative, inspired Word which needs no supplementation from any other source. This is not to deny “general revelation” from God’s creation which tells us something of the power and glory of the Creator (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20). But when it comes to “specific revelation” we do not expect our Lord to speak to us apart from the Scriptures. His guidance is not to be sought in visions, dreams, angels or other supernatural manifestations. Nor are we to look inwardly…

Anger

(May 2000 – Volume 6, Issue 5)  In his autobiography, Number One, Billy Martin tells about hunting in Texas with Mickey Mantle. Mickey had a friend who would let them hunt on his ranch. When they reached the ranch, Mickey told Billy to wait in the car while he checked in with his friend. Mantle’s friend quickly gave them permission to hunt, but he asked Mickey a favor. He had a pet mule in the barn who was going blind, and he didn’t have the heart to put him out of his misery. He asked Mickey to shoot the mule for him. When Mickey came back to the car, he pretended to be angry. He scowled and slammed the door. Billy asked him what was wrong, and Mickey said his friend wouldn’t let them hunt. “I’m so mad at that guy,” Mantle said, “I’m going out to his barn and shoot…

A Matter of Purity

(January 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 1)  As the author of Hebrews begins to wrap up his intensely doctrinal epistle, he makes it clear that doctrine has as its goal the changing of lives. It matters little how much theology you know; it matters little if you write doctrinal treatises on the Melchizedekian priesthood of Jesus Christ; it matters little if you can understand and explain everything in this epistle; if this knowledge does not change your life, it is of little value. What does it matter if I know all of these things and more: If I can’t be kind to my wife and kids at home; if I am in constant battle with people at work; if I am hard to get along with, mean spirited, divisive, easily offended, a gossip or lack concern (Hebrews 13:1-3)? If I can’t live in moral purity or I live for the same…

A Look at Depression Through the Lens of Scripture

(December 1997 – Volume 3, Issue 10) The man sitting before me would not respond to my questions. He sat, motionless, staring at the floor. That he had been under a great deal of stress was a fact known to all who loved him, but that he was this close to the “edge” surprised us all. Soon he would find himself on the psych ward of a local hospital, medicated and undergoing both individual and group counseling. Unfortunately his life would never be the same. He had come to this state of deep (what some would call “clinical”) depression because of unbiblical and sinful choices that he had been making in his life. Even though he would overcome his depression, the counseling he received reinforced and validated these choices. He would ultimately leave his wife and child, drop out of the church and pursue his ungodly lifestyle. Marital problems are the…

The Sovereignty of God – Part 4

(December 2001 – Volume 7, Issue 11) The issue that we have been dancing around for the last several papers, and now must seriously address, has to do with the sovereign nature of God. Our context, so far, has been that of pain, suffering and evil in this world. And while this continues to be a good springboard into our discussion, it certainly does not exhaust the pool of topics and questions emerging from the subject. The broader discussion must include the whole gamut of problems that swirl around the “sovereignty of God” vs. the “freewill of man” debate.