Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Gospel of Grace & Truth

I have been studying in Colossians since my pastor is preaching through the book.  Paul says something in the first chapter that jumps out at me.  He says, “…since the first day that you heard and understood the grace of God in truth….”  This is in the midst of a passage where he is talking about the Colossians accepting “the word of truth, the gospel which came to you.”  So he links the gospel with two key elements: grace and truth.  What is the link?

I think the tie-in here is that we are saved by grace and truth.  It is the truth about our standing in Adam that drives us to seek by grace to stand instead in Christ.  It is the grace of God giving us redemption and forgiveness of sins instead of damnation that drives us to share the truth with others.

As we grow in sanctification and the gospel becomes more and more central in our lives, truth and grace should increasingly be characteristic of our actions.  How can we tell others of the God of Truth and His infallible, inerrant word if we are people who are not truthful?  How can we freely avail ourselves of God's matchless grace and not be willing in turn to forgive even our enemies and be gracious to those who abuse us?

The gospel must be central to all we do: how we behave and how we relate to those around us.  And that gospel that should be core to our existence should be seen by those around us in grace and truth oozing out of our lives.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Doctrine, Wisdom, Conviction

There has been a lot of furor over Joe Zichterman's departure from fundamentalism and his embracing the emergent conversation.  If you have not already read Dan Miller's article “Why Do They Leave Fundamentalism?” then you really should.  Dan was a classmate of mine in college and his reasoning ability has been refined over the years to be very good.

In the article Dan ends up largely discussing the issue of music.  If you are a Fundamentalist and you have not wrestled with music then one wonders where you have been for the last 30 years.  The fact is that there are modes of worship that we are comfortable and familiar with and there are modes that we feel are not best.  Music a key area where this happens.

Dan shares his personal testimony of how he ended up,for a brief time, in a church that was not fundamental.  He found that while much of what they did was what he thought of as worldly and unwise that it came from a heart that was redeemed and that was striving to worship God.

This is the key.  We have too often forgotten as Fundamentalists what the fundamentals are.  The fundamentals do not include liturgical styles, music, specific translations, ordinance modalities and soteriologies, to name a few.  Now, these things are all informed by our view of scripture, creation, atonement and escatology, and well they should be.  However, we must be careful to not take our views of wisdom and conviction issues and artificially make them into doctrinal issues.  Our common sense is often not so common as we would like to imagine.

This actually does come back around to my soap box du juor: the Centrality of the Gospel.  We must embrace as brothers all those who are repenting of sin and trusting in Christ alone for salvation.  It is incumbent upon us to treat as fellow-citizens all who are looking for the Kingdom of God.  And we may not behave arrogantly toward others who are fellow bond-servants of Christ.

Doctrine is important.  We are commanded to pray for wisdom.  Our convictions should be informed by the Word and cultivated by the Spirit.  But we must be careful not to confound the three or we cease to be Fundamentalists and become simply Donatist sectarians.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Hypocrisy of Paedobaptism

This is just a little thought that has been brewing for a while. There seems to be a real hypocrisy in many Baptist churches. They would turn red and blustery at the evils of paedobaptism. Many Baptists could hardly say the word without spitting! But then they will turn around and baptize little Bobby or Suzy who prayed to “ask Jesus to come into my heart” last week after a sermon on hell. Now before you start quothing “let the little children come…,” I must quickly say that I am in no way opposed to little children being led to the Lord. What I am saying however, is that if we are going to practice believer's baptism should we not have a clear definition of what that is.

My definition of a believer is, “one who has repented of sin and believed in Christ alone for salvation from the wrath of God.” This requires not just a prayer and an altar trip but some time to show that it is real repentance and faith. This is one reason why the early church often made converts wait years to be baptized.

I think everyone knows some child, born into a church-going family who made an early profession of faith and was baptized only to go astray as a teenager and end up as an adult who has no interest in church. How hard would it be to allow such a child to grow and mature and defer their baptism until the age of say, sixteen. Would it really be so bad to examine teenagers and ask if they are really showing a life characterized by a love of God and love for others?

Is there not a fundamental hypocrisy in standing on the doctrine of believer's baptism and then baptizing those who have been given no time to show that they truly are believers.