What Does It Mean to Act Like a Man?

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

 

If you are looking to this verse to have an example on how the gender of men should act, you are looking in the wrong place.  It is saying act like an adult

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Am I Really a Christian?

Am I Really a Christian?

is a new book about finding out if you are really a christian or not.

These are some of the commendations and my comments on why I disagree

“There can be no more important question than ‘Am I really a Christian?  Tim Chester

“Can any question in life be as important as knowing whether you are right with God, whether you are going to Heaven or Hell?  Donald Whitney

 

I don’t believe that is the most important question.  The bible never says this is the most important question.  This question seems to be more about anxiety for what will happen to us after we die than anything to do with the Glory of God, or the kingdom of God, or whatever your theology says is the goal of life.  The bible doesn’t seem to ask us to be very careful on whether or not we are going to heaven.  I think we, especially in our culture, are very anxious about this issue and therefore ascribe greater importance to it than the bible seems to.

response to Martin Bashir with Rob Bell

1. I wish Bell had the same interpersonal training I received in Graduate school.  I kept on wanting him to say “you are wanting me to say” to Bashir after the reporter continued to ask the same question again and again, each time more forcefully.

2. Whether you think bell Squirmed or Bashir was a jerk is totally dependent on what you thought of the issue before you watched the video

My Response to the Old man Piper’s gay bashing tornado

1. “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)

Piper uses this verse to say that the pro homosexuals in the church should repent.  I think it is saying the opposite.  He is calling for Jerusalem to repent, by saying their sin is worse than the siloam people.  He is saying that we should look at our own sin, see how it is greater than the sin of the tornado victims, and repent.

 

2. “The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us.  Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction.

a. when has a tornado ever been described as gentle?

b.  I really can’t remember, but does God use natural disasters to call the victims of the disaster into repentance?   Does that happen anywhere in the bible?  I remember him calling people into repentance, then sending the disaster if they didn’t repent.  Then other people, like non-victims, were then called to witness the disaster and then repent.

 

3. “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) ”

Doesn’t the most obvious reading of this verse seem to say that people who have affairs, or steal anything, or want anything that isn’t theirs, will go to hell?  Then if we decided that Paul couldn’t possibly be saying it, we try to read it into context.  The problem with this verse is that we seem to read all the other sins into context, except the gay part.

4. I understand the concern about not calling homosexuality a sin.  I have a hard time getting around it.  But I think the pro homosexual community isn’t making this statement out of context.  They are responding to our current and prior culture of judgment toward homosexuality.  By saying that they need to face the facts and accept the truth that the bible says homosexuality is wrong is to ignore their context, which I believe is dehumanizing and probably one bad sin, but I can’t seem to have a verse pop into my head.  My point is that we have to respond to them in the context that they are responding on, which is one where we have valued the sin of homosexuality over most other sins

5. The bible does seem to make a bigger deal about sexual sins.  Remember that one verse about in the body verses out of the body?  Important stuff.  But that includes all sexual sins, and our treatment of them isn’t the same as how we treat homosexuality.  Think of the sin of remarriage after a divorce.  God seems to make a HUGE deal about comparing idolatry to adultery.  And he seems to really care about divorce and care even more about remarriage.  Remarriage isn’t something in the past either.  God seems to see it as if it is a continual sin, because you are only married once.  Yet our churches are full of 2nd marriages.  There are many pastors, and elders, and theologians who are remarried, and yet we aren’t giving sermons on this or splitting churches over it.  And make sure you understand my point.  I am glad we aren’t.  I think those of us who feel committed to proclaim the sin of homosexuality should treat them how we are already treating remarriage.  Mainly we ignore it, focus on it when it is a pressing issue in the life of the individual, never claim how great it is from the pulpit and instead see the individual past their sexual past.

Review of the last Kevin DeYoung post

1. I think DeYoung, and everyone else is reading into Rob Bell’s meaning.  They are seeing it through their own lens.  This is especially harmful because I feel like this is the purpose of the book, to question our lens’ of understanding the bible.

2. I find it condescending of DeYoung when he goes off about rhetorical questions.  Yes, I would agree that there is meaning in those questions, as there is meaning in all questions.  But I disagree that Bell is trying “to undermine—nay, to ridicule—the reality of eternal conscious punishment, the wrath of the God, and penal substitutionary atonement” with his questions.  I think what Rob Bell is teaching with this questions is that there are inconsistencies in our doctrines, and we should look at them.  I definitely don’t think Bell is preaching that Hell will be empty, or that universalism is true, and I think that because he says in the book that isn’t true.  He is asking us to look outside of our outdated and inconsistent categories, and instead he is being forced back into those categories by those who are critiquing him.

3. Bell is trying to talk about these issues in a different way than our current modernist thought.  DeYoung’s critique is that he i s “unclear”.  I think he is on purpose, and when has clarity become the most important thing?  We need clarity when we are anxious because it makes us feel better.  But if something is too complicated to explain it in a soundbite, it doesn’t help by trying to make it clear.  Heaven and Hell are more complicated than we think.  Talking about it of course will be complicated.  Because something sounds like heresy not only doesn’t mean it is heresy, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.

4. DeYoung constantly calls Bell a universalist, then calls him inconsistent when he says something that doesn’t sound universalist.  It is as if Deyoung decided that Bell is a universalist and doesn’t take any evidence to the contrary.  Like when Bell says “I am not a universalist.

5. “sometimes Bell just ignores the verses that don’t support his thesis”.  I completely agree.  And so do you.  Everyone does.  Everyone has primary texts that they base their systematic theology and other texts that don’t fit as well, and so are explained in another way.  What I like about bell’s primary texts is that they are new to me and they challenge the universality of a more modern set of primary texts.

6. “No one I know thinks God is loving one minute and cruel the next.”  Pastor DeYoung, maybe you should get out more.  Maybe that is true in reformed circles, but that has never been true anywhere I have been.

7. “Yes, Bell admits several times that we can resist or reject God’s love. But there’s never any
discussion of the way we’ve offended God, no suggestion that ultimately all our failings are a
failure to worship God as we should. God is not simply disappointed with our choices or angry
for the way we judge others. He is angry at the way we judge him. He cannot stand to look upon
our uncleanness. His nostrils flare at iniquity. He hates our ingratitude, our impurity, our Godcomplexes,
our self-centeredness, our disobedience, our despising of his holy law. Only when
we see God’s eye-covering holiness will we grasp the magnitude of our traitorous rebellion, and
only then will we marvel at the incomprehensible love that purchased our deliverance on the
cross.”

What about john 3:18

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

We are condemned for our rejection of God.  That is it.  It is not our failure to worship, or our uncleanness, or our self-centeredness or disobedience or anything else on his list.  Yes, God is Holy, but that doesn’t mean he has to hate looking at us.

8. “you will see that the Bible’s story is about how a holy God can possibly dwell among an unholy people.”  This is the real difference going on here, and my real difference with DeYoung.  Yes, there are lots of verses that say this, but their are a lot of other verses that can back up another story, like Bell’s, or really anyone else.  In the history of Christianity, there have been countless number of summarys of what the real bible story is.  Deyoung’s is only worth noting because it is kind of mean.

9. “The pain of hell is our
fault. But it’s also God’s doing”

I guess I understand what he is saying, but he might of changed the wording.  That sounds awful to me.  And yes, I know, sounding awful to me is no judge on its “truthiness” but this is also the person who claims “words matter” so I am asking him to be a little more creative.

10.  “Bell’s god is wholly passive toward sin.”  I agree.  I think the message is that it never was about sin.  Ever.  Sacrifices never cancelled out sins, it was always Jesus.  People don’t go to hell for their sins, but as John 3:18 says, for their lack of belief.

I don’t know how to make sense of God judging all those people in the old testament on the spot.  But how does DeYoung make sense of the current age?  Does he still believes God judges people actively, even by killing them?  Is he believing, like Piper that God still uses natural disasters for his judgment?

There is an inconsistency, and, as I have said before, every group decides which side of the inconsistency to focus on.  DeYoung focuses on the judgment and old testament, (and a few passages in the old testament) while the other side focuses on the rest of the new testament and the church age, or whatever you want to call the last 2000 years.

11. “Bad theology hurts real people. So of all the questions raised in the book, the most important
question every reader must answer is this: is it true?’

I find it ironic that DeYoung accuses Bell of being modernistic.  I don’t believe it is biblical that the most important question is truth.  It is not enough to believe with your head, it has to effect your soul and body.  Again, there could be countless “most important questions” for this book, but mine would be “What will I do with this book?”  This book really challenged me in that question, but the idea that I should reject or accept the whole thing based on the modernist view of “truth” (which is different from the biblical standard of truth, which was never about just head knowledge) is something I am unwilling to accept.

Mark Driscoll Response

We are thus told, by Mrs. Driscoll as well as then by her husband, that a man who does not provide for his wife and children is flatly disobeying God. If she is out working and he isn’t–save only in extreme cases of injury, sickness, or other physical debility (unemployment is not mentioned as an excuse)–he is “worse than an unbeliever.”

That last phrase comes from the text–the one and only text–adduced by the Driscolls on behalf of their forbiddance of men staying home and women working: I Timothy 5:8. And now a cascade of basic exegetical, theological, and homiletical problems begins:

1. The passage in question has nothing to do with gender roles. The context clearly has a single, very different, issue in mind. Widows in Timothy’s church were not being looked after by their relatives and so were posing a financial hardship for the church. Some were also apparently exploiting their status for charity they did not deserve. So Paul warns the Christians, via Timothy, that they must do what even non-Christians understand to be a matter of basic obligation: support your kinfolk.

2. Thus the “worse than an unbeliever” charge, which sounds pretty harsh and not terribly appreciative of non-Christians on the lips of a twenty-first-century Seattle couple with no interpretive context given (I mean, are non-Christians really so bad?!), is really just Paul saying, “We Christians are called to live by a standard better than those around us, but failing to render financial support to your relatives isn’t even meeting the lowest common denominator of morality all around us.”

3. The passage has nothing to do with a couple who decide that, for at least a while, the mother will work outside the home while the father works inside the home caring for the children. Any argument one wants to raise against that option–which is exactly what lots of contemporary Christian couples nowadays elect, whether because Dad is finishing his education, or Dad has been laid off, or Mom wants to get back to work she loves while Dad longs to connect more with their kids–or the option of both spouses going to work in order to provide properly for their family, must be raised from other Scripture, not this one. And good luck finding that other Scripture.

4. Brother Driscoll then assures his audience that since he has read the whole Bible–which seems a rather basic thing for a pastor to claim–and can’t think of any Bible verse that justifies a husband staying home and a woman working, then there is no such verse and there could be no legitimate grounds for another view. “You can argue with me all day,” he assures us, and his mind will not be changed. Oh, dear: Do we preachers really want to sound like that? And on a subject like this?

5. Brother Driscoll also quickly dismisses any alternative interpretation that might render this teaching a matter of “culture.” That use of “culture” is code-language among preachers like Mr. Driscoll for something like “trying to dodge the abiding truth of God’s Word by relegating its universal, eternal teachings to a distant and long-past alternative social situation.”

I’m sympathetic with his aversion to such dodges. They are indeed rife and ought to be both exposed and resisted.

But the exegetical effect of misusing the category of “culture” works both ways. In this case, Brother Driscoll’s teaching is deeply embedded in, and makes a sort of sense only for, one social situation: middle-class people (or richer) who can live on the husband’s single paycheque that he earns in work undertaken outside the home.

Yet before the Industrial Revolution, and in many parts of the world today, the workplace is the home, and husbands and wives work together in the family farm, or shop, or service, or whatever. Furthermore, in many modern societies even in so-called developed economies, the days of a living wage being paid to men on which they can then support a wife and kids have disappeared for everyone below the middle-middle class—a reality affecting, I daresay, a significant number of people living in Brother Driscoll’s own city of Seattle.

So that can’t possibly be what the Holy Spirit was telling Paul to tell the rest of us everywhere and always. Brother Mark’s interpretation is obviously culture-specific, ironically enough, and therefore not plausible.

6. Finally, Brother Driscoll warns his audience that the Biblical teaching is so clear on this subject than any couple found departing from his interpretation would be subject to church discipline at Mars Hill. Really? Church discipline is being threatened (and, yes, “threatened” is the operative verb here) on a matter (badly) argued from a single passage? I’m all for church discipline–another important subject on which Brother Mark and I agree–but I would think that Mars Hill, like any contemporary church, would have its hands full with church disciplinary matters far more clear and far better evidenced from the Bible than this one.

I don’t know what theological training Mrs. Driscoll has received. The Mars Hill website claims that Brother Mark “received a B.A. in Speech Communications from Washington State University and holds a master’s degree in Exegetical Theology from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.” I confess to wondering what his professors at Western Seminary would think of this exercise in exegetical theology.

Mark Driscoll, I repeat, has doubtless done much good for the Kingdom of God and has a lot to offer it still. He’s undeniably energetic, charismatic, and principled. But my goodness: how he has strayed from the basic exegetical teaching I trust he received at Western! How much damage he is doing by misreading the Scripture and then dogmatically declaiming his errors with the full weight of his Big Church and even larger network behind him.

I expect he won’t listen to me: We haven’t met and I have no reason to think he would pay my opinion much attention. But I hope his big brothers in the American Reformed circle he frequents, such as John Piper and Tim Keller, will take him aside and remind him of the basic exegetical do’s and don’t’s he seems somehow, somewhere to have abandoned. Perhaps he is due for a well-deserved study break to regroup, re-establish his basic tools, and hear what God wants him to do next–and how God wants him to do it.

If instead, however, he persists in such troubling exegesis, theology, and preaching, the impressively innovative, faithful, and effective work done at Mars Hill will be compromised, perhaps fatally. People who find this sort of interpretation to be sexist, classist, and just plain uninformed will go elsewhere for competent Biblical preaching.

And they should.

Toxic Church

“I grew up in a toxic church, and I am still recovering”

Phillip Yancey describes growing up in a Toxic church, where he was taught more about hate and exclusion than about love and grace.  He says many people grew up in a similar situation, and that the worst part of it was the image of God churches like this portray.  “The image of God I came away with was a frowning, policeman in the sky. “  Many of us have had similar views of God, and not all of us recovered.  For Yancey, recovery didn’t come through the bible or a religious crusade, but rather through Nature, Classical Music and Romantic Love.  This doesn’t surprise me, for when we have had our image of God so damaged, God has to find other ways to reach us.

Q: those of you who have had the experience of a Toxic Church or Toxic Religion, What was it that brought you back, or what ways does God speak to you now?