Saturday, March 22, 2008

Intimidation in the Bathroom!

Here's another pic from our trip to Jackson, MS. I wouldn't want to be considered a "theological girlie man" but I also wouldn't want to claim that I'm a "theological giant" either. Needless to say I won't be putting a sign like this on my bathroom any time soon. I think that Ligon Duncan deserves to have this on the bathroom in his office;^) Between Derek Thomas and him I bet no one else would dare use this lavatory!

(Quick explanation...Scott's just confused because his last name sounds the same as "girlie")

A Play on Words?

This is a very delinquent post, but here is a picture of a sign we saw when we were down in Jackson, MS in November of '07.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reaction 3: False Unity Part 2

I can remember a few times when disagreement arose in a church I was a part of, and concern for unity was held up above the pursuit of a transparent honesty and truth (or even a proper venue to give feedback and share concerns or emotions). It seemed like anytime there was a problem that it was quickly swept under a rug lest it cause any disunity in the body. Don’t get me wrong; they did not do this for every circumstance. Also, I am not arguing for a pursuit of disunity, but rather against a pursuit of false unity based in a deceiving outward appearance. This relates to how Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees they were whitewashed tombs because their outward appearance deceived others and themselves to the condition of their inner heart condition (Matt 23:27). I can so easily fall into this mindset of masking what I really am to project that I want others to think that I am, so can leaders of churches.

We are sinners still and our sin keeps throwing kinks in how we organize as a body of believers, but that doesn’t mean we should be secretive about the truth of circumstances (we must be wise about this though). It seems that the response would be, “well, it is a circumstance that the congregation doesn’t need to know about.” This might be true, but if it involves public sin or another kind of public activity with visible members or leaders in the church this will only lead weaker sheep in the congregation to speculation and gossip. It’s right to say, “well, the congregation should not speculate like that…that is ungodly,” but leaders should know that they are leading a body of people that may not be as mature spiritually as they are.

Phillip Jensen has recently written about this kind of thinking in Australian culture, “To be divisive or uncooperative is one of the worst criticisms leveled against anybody. In fact, it bears the most damning label of all: it is ‘un-Australian.’ (By God’s Word: 60 Reflections for Living in God’s World (Sydney: Matthias Media, 2007), 40.)” Later in the same little reflection he wrote that this is usually heralded most by those who are theologically liberal in denominational power and he follows that with three points: (1) the passages in question are regarding congregational unity; (2) based in a common understanding of doctrine and of godliness, not tolerant relativism; and (3) this comes from the same Bible that they spurn as unimportant (50-51). Of these three only the second point is really relevant to the circumstances that I have experienced.

The difficulty with the topic of unity in the church is that on one hand we must seek to maintain it, and on the other hand we must recognize that if there is not an agreement of philosophy of ministry or of a secondary doctrine (secondary to the gospel, e.g. baptism, polity, etc.) then in the sovereignty of God we must trust that we are supposed to go our separate ways for the sake of the gospel and strengthening of churches (Acts 15:36-41). Whether or not Paul was correct to separate from Barnabas on account of John Mark is uncertain, but there seems that there was still an accepted principal in outward separation while having a spiritual unity (if not between Paul and John Mark at least between Paul and Barnabas). In the end Paul came to cooperation with John Mark (Col 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11; Philemon 24; 1 Pet 5:13). At the time of disagreement they agreed to disagree and went their separate ways. Likewise we might disagree with others, but we must recognize that in our separation there is still a spiritual unity if we hold the same gospel. Scripture teaches that we are called sons of God if we repent and believe in the gospel (Rom 8:14, 19; Gal 3:26; 4:6; etc.). If we are believers then we are of the same spiritual family (Mark 3:31-35; all of the following passages use the word adelphoi translated “brothers” referring to siblings in a family (Matt 5:47; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor 1:10; 2 Cor 1:8; Gal 1:2; Phil 1:12; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:4; 2 Thess 1:3; 1 Tim 4:6; 2 Tim 4:21; Heb 2:1; Jas 1:2; 2 Pet 2:10; 1 John 3:13; 3 John 1:3; Rev 6:11; etc.).

D. Broughton Knox pointed out that four attitudes preserve Christian unity: (1) forgiveness, (2) humble-mindedness, (3) thankfulness, (4) forbearance (D. Broughton Knox Selected Works Volume II Church and Ministry (Sydney: Matthias Media, 2003), 35.) Expression of unity is found in the context of relationships. Lastly, Knox pointed out that, “unity is a relationship of persons of God and to one another through the Spirit, and it is modeled on the unity within the trinity, and is brought about by deepening our relationship to God and so our relationship to one another (36).” Unity is Trinitarian! So even as the Trinity exists in three separate persons they still maintain a spiritual union. This is not a perfect analogy, because churches are not perfect as the trinity is, but as we live in separate churches with different philosophies of ministry, different convictions, etc. if we hold in common what the Bible teaches the gospel to be we are in unity. As Iain H. Murray recently quoted J. C. Ryle we should, “Keep the walls as low as possible and shake hand over them often.” No doubt there will be times in the local church that we will have to forbear with each other in our disagreement, but it should not be done in a way that is not truthful and transparent.

Unfortunately, when I have seen the model of a type of false unity I responded with a hermeneutic of suspicion rather than with a hermeneutic of trust. I convinced myself that I was humble, thankful, forgiving, and forbearing; however, in the end my bitterness and lack of joy showed that I was quite the opposite. Unity includes disagreement, but there comes a time when for the sake of unity and distinctive convictions paths need to diverge recognizing that a spiritual unity still exists in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, no church is perfect and we must be willing to be open about that as an expression of holiness in repenting from what we once were. We should be open about the disagreement we have for the edification of the body and for a clear witness to the world of what this redeemed people really represents...sinners that are being transformed into the image of Christ. A people trying to live honestly about who they are for the sake of the gospel.
Ephesians 4:1-3 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (my emphasis)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reaction 3: False Unity Part 1

Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”

Disagreement exists on many levels. No doubt the American experiment is even a strange secular exhibition of this; a sovereign nation with a vaguely, yet firmly, established equilibrium. As individualism and relativism has steeped in the culture difficulty has come about in maintaining balance between antithetical positions in many conversations. Can there be any clarity? Can there be any unity? The answer is, “Yes,” but not necessarily in regard to a political unity in governing structures built by human wisdom.

How should we think of John McLaurin and Ben Tillman’s little exchange on February 22, 1902 in the senate? Or what about Thomas Benton and Henry Foote’s scuffle in April of 1850 on the Senate floor? Despite the “reports” of disunity in the United States the modern context has yet to see her senators pull pistols on each other. Maybe the United States is not as bad as people say? Maybe it is worse? One thing is certain, if one puts too much hope in a human philosophy for the “salvation” of a society one side is bound to be disappointed immediately, and the other will likely be disappointed eventually (by “salvation” I mean secular folk’s perception of what will fix all wrongs in the world, people’s perception of “salvation”).

Be careful whom you trust. Be careful how you trust! Aside from who or what the ideology is, if we hope in something that is temporal in an unhealthy way we will surely be disappointed. If we hope in something that is temporal in a healthy way we will likely still experience disappointment. When this happens what does one do? Everything you have put your hope in has quickly left, and what you thought was a societal “salvation” has left as well. On the other side of the coin..maybe the representative of an ideological position gains the position one believes would give him or her the power to legislate for what many people hold to be the “salvation” of a society (conservation, progress, etc.). We have many examples of this and many unfortunate results: (1) these folks do a lot of good, but many promises go unfulfilled because of a naiveté on the part of both politicians and those they represent regarding exactly what a person in that potential position can actually do; (2) they lied and just wanted the power, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”; (3) their policies were meant to meet a need at a particular time and the means by which the need was met becomes irrelevant or unhelpful; etc. We need to pray for our secular authorities (2 Chron 7:14; 1 Tim 2:1-3).

What does this have to do with unity in the church? Is the Bible just another vague document meant to establish the status quo? Not by any means! Is the church just another victim of natural entropy? Of course not! The Christian church is not meant to preserve a temporal political unity that so many worldly structures pursue. It is meant to be a preserve of a unity based on the foundation of the gospel, a spiritual unity. The unity is already existent. It is also amazing that God has given a polity to organize the visible expression of His church for the purpose of unity grounded in faith and the knowledge of the Son of God:
Ephesians 4:11-14 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (my emphasis)

Christian unity is founded in the gospel. Too many times we carry presuppositions into the church from our secular experiences. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ conclusions from his exposition of John 17 and Ephesians 4 in The Basis of Christian Unity (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 2004) are relevant:
(1) Unity must never be isolated, or regarded as something in and of itself (70).
(2) The question of unity must never be put first [fellowship follows doctrine; Acts 2:42, etc.] (70).
(3) We must never start with the visible church or with an institution, but rather with the truth [Luke 3:8; John 8:32-34; etc.] (71).
(4) The starting point in considering the question of unity must always be regeneration and belief of the truth (72).
a. People are not in Christian unity if they don’t agree with the following.
i. Submission to revealed truth (73).
ii. The Fall and man’s utter helplessness (73).
iii. The person of Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement (73).

(5) An appearance or façade of unity based on anything else, and at the expense of these two criteria, or ignoring them, is clearly a fraud and a lie (72).
(6) To do anything which supports or encourages such an impression or appearance of unity is surely dishonest and sinful [John 17:21] (73).
(7) To regard a church, or a council of churches, as a forum in which fundamental matters can be debated and discussed, or as an opportunity for witness-bearing, is sheer confusion and muddled thinking (74).
(8) Unity must obviously never be thought of primarily in numerical terms, but always in terms of life (75).
(9) The greatest need of the hour is a new baptism and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in renewal and revival (76).

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Chuck E Cheese

Well, for my 7th birthday about 20-25 of us adults went to Chuck E Cheese. I don't think it was awkward for anyone else, but it was at first for me. After a while though we warmed up and were having an awesome time! Here are a few pics;) Enjoy!

Linds and I with Chuck E.

The Tanners on the rail cart game.

Mr. Wright playing Pod-Racer.

I even had the classic Chuck E Cheese experience of picking up someone else's drink and drinking out of it. Yuck!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Emerging Brilliance!!! Kurt Rosenwinkel

For my birthday last night over twenty of us went to Chuck E Cheeses'. Whenever people would ask me what I thought of it before we went I said, "I think it will be awkwardly fun." Well, it was a total we accumulated approximately 2,500 tickets!!! Wow.

Well, I'm not so much into the Emerging Church, but I am into the "Emerging Brilliance" of Kurt Rosenwinkel!

Today Linds and I are headed to NYC for a fun day there. Tonight we are going to go to the Village Vanguard to see Kurt Rosenwinkel play! Awesome!!

Here's a quick clip of him playing (in order for the soloing at the beginning to make sense you may want to watch it twice):

Then tomorrow morning we are going to Redeemer Presbyterian to hear the Word preached. Promises to be a great weekend!!

I'm still planning on posting something on's just been a busy couple of weeks.