Saturday, July 24, 2004

4.95 on the "Calvinist" Scale?

- another ~Billy Goat~ rant.

For a number of years I've considered myself a full blown five point Calvinist, whatever that means, and the "whatever that means" is the whole point of this article. What do you mean when you say you are a "5 point" or a "4 and a 1/2 point" Calvinist? To simply say it refers to how you stack up when measured by the "5 points of Calvinism" assumes there is an objectivity to those points that allows such a comparison. But is it really that simple?

There are some in the world of Christianity that would say I am no "Calvinist" at all because I hold to the free and full offer of the Gospel to each and every person, elect and non-elect (including Judas Iscariot). But that is exactly the point. Is it more important to be a "5 point Calvinist" or to be Biblical?

Frankly, I am at a point in life where I really do not give a big fat rat's rear end where I rank on the "Calvinist" scale. Nor do I care a whole lot where anyone else might place me on that scale. That's your problem for trying to fit me into your nice neat little categories that keep you from letting the Bible be the Bible.

In my own assesment, I woke up one morning and realized I was a 4.95 point Calvinist. No, I am not going to try to explain that. It just is, so live with it.

I also find I no longer have any patience with the "supra" and "infra" -lapsarian debate (having to do with the order of God's decrees in eternity past as they relate to salvation and the elect). When you have descended into that debate, you simply have gone beyond what the Bible reveals, and you have set your theological reasoning above the Scripture. It's my observation that the infra-supra debate is a mark of those groups and denominations that have stagnated into a Reformed confessional scholasticism to the detriment of Biblical Theology.

I could go on. God loves all people and God hates the workers of iniquity. Don't try to reconcile that with your idea of election. Let the Bible be the Bible and live with the tension. And it would not be the "end of the world" if you did live with that tension. In my own mind, the fact that God loves and hates the same people is not a tension. If there was never any love at all, there would never had been any hatred. We can only hate as deeply as we have loved. "For God so loved the world..."

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Excerpts from

Jesus Versus The Eldership

by Dr. Norman Park

"Jesus and his apostles stand solidly in opposition to the modern-day authoritarian institution called "the eldership" in the Church of Christ. Unknown to early Christianity, this institution functions as a self-perpetuating, collective papacy. It is a sort of combination of the corporate board of directors and a Communist politburo. As a corporate board, it exercises total decision-making power, it asserts total administrative authority, and it claims total power to rule. As a politburo, it pursues a sleepless watchdog role over the church to maintain official orthodoxy. Results have been the destruction of congregational responsibility, reduction of members from participants to attendants, and the stifling of individual growth. This does not mean that the men who compose this latter-day papacy are bad men. As unquestioning prisoners of a closed-end orthodoxy concerning elders, which is no longer subject to examination, they are victims not unlike the many who suffer under the oppressive institution......

There were elders in the assemblies of the Lord established by the apostles but no "eldership." The former were older and spiritually mature persons who were primarily teachers and also leaders by example. The latter is a collective authoritarian institution devoted to ruling and decision-making. It has been demonstrated that Jesus, in building his church, did not create a power structure, and specifically denied the use of power to any of his disciples, saying, "It shall not be so among you." The modern eldership is a power-wielding body, arrogating to itself all decisions for the church, issuing excommunication bulls ("withdrawal of fellowship"), exercising total control over church property, declaring official orthodoxy, and practicing exclusive mastery over the church's money.......

The growth of legalism, which views the faith as a code of laws, has contributed to the growth of the eldership institution. Someone is needed to legislate, someone is needed to "watchdog" over the church to see that the code is followed, someone is needed to guard "dangerous" thinking, someone is needed to enforce uniformity--and that someone is the modern authoritarian eldership. The corporation culture has been absorbed into religious thinking. It holds that the few must rule, the many must serve. It has bred a wholesale distrust of the capabilities and potentialities of the ordinary pew occupant. The consequences of the eldership system are bad. First and foremost, it fails "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining the full measure of perfection found in Christ" (Eph. 4:12). In denying the congregation the experience of decision-making and the give-and-take of interpersonal relations involved in discussion, it promotes immaturity. People who never have the responsibility of facing group problems and applying intellectual and spiritual resources to their solution will remain spiritual children...."

For the complete article at Battered Sheep Minstry click here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Mohler: Seminaries must nurture faithfulness in a faithless world - (BP)
By David Roach & Jeff Robinson, Jun 21, 2004

"INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Southern Baptist seminaries face the great challenge of producing faithful ministers in a faithless world, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said in a report to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis June 16.

In an age of decreasing adherence to scriptural truth, seminaries must answer the question, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on earth?” said Mohler, who serves as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“We are living in a time when so many in the church are beginning to sense that there is a problem not only out there the world, but also in the church,” he said. “... In this critical turning time in human history, it is our responsibility to make certain that we do everything in our power demonstrate faith in the face of a faithless world.”

Mohler listed five imperatives to which Southern Baptists must adhere if they are to demonstrate biblical faith in the world.

First, Southern Baptists must maintain a bold vision of biblical truth.

“There is no way we will be able to demonstrate faith in face of faithlessness if we do not recover biblical truth,” he said. “This means that we must as people and as churches ... be bold all the time, evermore, courageously and convictionally before the world about what it is we believe.”

Second, Southern Baptists must renew their commitment to teach biblical truth in churches and seminaries.

The Christian teaching ministry must always be grounded in the Word of God, he emphasized. “If there is any one educational principle that Southern Baptists must embrace at this convention and keep before ourselves, it is the absolute non-negotiable, undilutable responsibility of Christian parents and Christian churches to teach Christian truth,” Mohler said. “If we do not do it, it will not be done.”

Third, Southern Baptists must experience a bold recovery of expository preaching, Mohler said.

Preachers must not merely use biblical texts as jumping-off points for their sermons, he said. Instead, they must “confront an age of biblical ignorance and biblical apathy with the vibrant living and active two-edged sword of the inerrant, infallible Word of God.”

Fourth, Southern Baptists must experience a reenergized embrace of evangelism and missions, Mohler said, adding that Christians should take joy in preaching the Gospel to the furthest regions of the earth.

“We set before ourselves that vision set before us in the Book of Revelation of that throng before the throne in eternity made up of men and women from every tongue and every tribe and every people and every nation. For the cause of the glory of God we will never retreat. We will always advance,” he said.

Fifth, Southern Baptists must raise up a new generation of leaders in the faith, Mohler said....."

It's not just our Southern Baptist friends who need to lay hold of the five imperatives listed above. These five points are imperative for the Evangelical church at large. Please note Dr. Mohler's 3rd imperative regarding expository preaching.

~ The Billy Goat ~
Excerpt from: The Blinding and Binding Teachings of Bill Gothard
by Paul Sue

"It's probably safe to say that most Christians in North America have heard of or have even attended one of Gothard's seminars. Because of the popularity and mass appeal of Gothard's ministry, attempting to question it or criticize it is to face the wrath and anathema of the legion of loyal (blindly loyal in some cases) fans. Gothardites get angry and defensive when you question their beloved leader's teachings or integrity, as if he is somehow beyond reproach or accountability."

If you are like me, you have always found yourself wary of Bill Gothard's teaching; specifically his sloppy hermeneutics and mis-exegesis of Scripture. Paul Sue's review of A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard & the Christian Life, by Don Veinot, Joy Veinot, Ron Henzel. (21st Century Press, 2002), will help you understand why your apprehension regarding Gothard is well founded. To read the full review, click here.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, July 12, 2004

Ramblings on Texas and Spiderman 2

Things have been a little busy and hectic. There are things I want to do, and the things I need to do before doing the things I want to do.

Two weeks ago we left on vacation for Texas. The occasion was a family reunion to celebrate my wife's mother's 90th birthday. This time we drove down instead of flying. That's 1,300 miles from the Grand Rapids, MI area down to the Austin, Texas area, and 1,300 miles back. It still beat spending time at work even if the office is air conditioned.

I like the Texas/Oklahoma plains area. You can see off in the distance a good 30 - 40 miles away; wide open sky and dry heat; a good place to snowbird some day, Lord willing.

On another note, this past Friday night my daughter and I went to see Spiderman 2. I agree with those who say Spidy 2 is better then Spidy 1. I wanted to go primarily to see the special effects on the big screen, and on that point was not disappointed.
There were also some philosophical issues to deal with, and some other time I may post my comments on those aspects of the movie. It was very clear at the end of Spidy 2, that there is every intent to have a Spiderman 3.

So, have you seen Spiderman 2? What are your thoughts?

~ The Billy Goat ~