Biblical Ignorance: MacArthur on the Problem, Sproul on the Solution

During the Ligonier National Conference Q & A session, John MacArthur was asked, “What is the biggest threat to Christianity today?”

This was his answer.

Last week I got into a conversation with someone who had looked to the bible to find out what to do in a conflict with another believer who was upset with her and had accused her of sin.  She had read Matthew 5:21-26 which contains the command, that:

“…if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

However she had also read that Paul and Barnabas had been in conflict (the details of which are vague and don’t seem to include charges of wrong doing but rather a disagreement over a staffing decision), and had parted ways, only to be reconciled later.  She decided that she would use that story as her guide and not practice the didactic teaching found in Matthew 5 by going to be reconciled to her former friend, instead hoping that things would just get better like they did for Paul and Barnabas. Years of estrangement has followed because this woman (seemingly sincerely)  believed that she didn’t have the obligation to go to her sister in Christ and ask the simple question, “What have I done wrong”, and listen to her correction.

The most upsetting thing about this story? This woman is not just a church member, was not just raised in the evangelical church for more than three decades, she is a lay leader in a position that oversees around two hundred people and has been so for around five years.

Sadly John MacArthur is right on.  Professing Christians don’t know the bible or how to interpret the bible. Continue reading “Biblical Ignorance: MacArthur on the Problem, Sproul on the Solution”

Legalism, Liberalism and True Grace

I got into two discussions on legalism this week with people in a liberal church. It seemed that their understanding of legalism/phariseeism extended to cover someone (like me) who insists that professing Christians be obedient to scripture and repent when they fail to do so, and (like me also) someone who harshly rebukes church leadership who are rebelling against God’s word.

I never got to finish either conversation to find out for sure.

However, I, being someone like me, feel the need to have a more thorough examination of the matter, so I wrote a more lengthy discussion of the Legalism/Liberalism/True Grace discussion that Keller et. al. were discussing in my last blog post….

Legalism, Liberalism and True Grace

Legalism – works with out faith

Legalism is the idea that The Law can save you (The Law being the OT and/or NT commands of God depending on if you claim to be a Jew or a Christian). That by conforming to every Letter of The Law you earn God’s favor and earn your way to heaven. In this practice Law usurps Grace.

This is wrong on many levels, the first of which is that no one can fulfill the law, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so no one can earn God’s favor through a lifetime of focused obedience. Another is that, if this was actually possible, then there would have been no need for Jesus to come to earth and die for our sins. And of course the message of Jesus and the entire NT is that salvation is through faith in Christ. Continue reading “Legalism, Liberalism and True Grace”

East Coast Heresy v. West Coast Heresy

This is an interesting conversation between Tim Keller, John Piper and D.A. Carson where Keller touches on something relevant to those who I have been getting to know who have come out from the dying evangelical church. He was discussing the different ways that people approach Christianity and noted the two false understandings and practices in the faith. He then contrasted them with the one true way. He said this:

Keller: “Do you see… that there are three ways to live, which is… there is moralism/pharaseeism, there is Gospel Christianity and there is hedonism/relativism…. I think the opposite of moralism is cheap grace.

I really appreciated reading Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” in the earliest days of my Christian life. Especially when you realize he was writing it in the context of the German Church which had capitulated to Hitler, and had essentially turned to Luther’s justification by Grace as a way of basically avoiding the importance of prophetic, moral seriousness.

So what Bonhoeffer had to say was this grace of God is free to you, but costly to God. And the law and the will of God is so important, the moral absolutes of God are so important, the God couldn’t just forgive us. Jesus had to die. To turn away His wrath against our sin. To pay the penalty. If you see that… I consider this a paradox.

On the one hand, I see that the law of God is so serious, that it cost Jesus His life. And when I see that the Bible says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, sex is for just inside marriage”, I have to take that seriously. It cost Jesus His life that humans were violating that. You can never look at that with out fear and trembling.

But at the same time, I am told, that despite my imperfections, that there is no condemnation for me ever again, even if I screw up in the future. That is the paradox.

Because when you say its costly grace, you can’t be morally lax, and at the same time you can’t always be beating yourself up about your failures. And it is tough for a pastor have both those shoes drops.”

Piper: “So you must then think… Gospel centered…” Continue reading “East Coast Heresy v. West Coast Heresy”

Matt Chandler: Jesus Wants the Rose

I saw this video from Matt Chandler and it has summed up my anger with what poses as the “church leadership” more succinctly than anything that I have seen since we started on this journey to understand, recover from and shine the light on the corruption of the American evangelical church.

That these false shepherds have lost the gospel, both missing the spirit of it and the letter of it, and are teaching worldly lessons that cannot save, while allowing the lost to believe that they not only saved, but often qualified for church leadership.

The link to the entire talk, entitled “Shepherds and Unregenerate Sheep”, is here.

He goes on to talk about his bitterness toward the what I think you could call Churchanity following this experience.

He, like us, became itinerant, but God’s ultimate call for Matt Chandler has been to send him back into evangelicalism as a missionary to the dead church. “To reach the lost in the culturally Christian south”

The bitterness he describes is something that we wrestled with constantly for the first year after we left Bel Air, working always to ‘never let the sun go down on our anger’. We are still in jeopardy of falling into it when the evil spirit that we walked away from tries to punch a hole back into our world, but God has given us a wonderful tool bag to pull from on how not to allow righteous anger to turn to bitterness, and how to move quickly into humility.

I need to spend some time writing about that.

But… for today… if you are in danger of falling into bitterness because of the unrepentant sin of a pastor who is in the pulpit lying to his dying congregation, remember that you are just as unworthy of Christ’s love, attention and sacrifice. And then listen to this piece by Voddie Bachum.

After you remember where who you are in relationship to God and where you stand, then when you go back to deal with the problem of the dead church posing as the living church and loving your enemies, praying for those who persecute you, and finding the right balance of speaking the truth in love is not so difficult.

But don’t stop calling out the negligent homicide that is going on by men like the ones that Matt Chandler is describing.