The Sacraments: Divine or Human Acts? (Part 1)

Are baptism and the Lord’s Supper best understood as visible forms of the Word, and thus means by which God’s grace operates in us, or as human responses of faith to the Word that has already been proclaimed? In other words, who is the primary actor in the sacraments/ordinances: God or us? Continue reading

Advertisements

What Would It Take to End Legal Abortion in the US?

It is my firm conviction that government, which exists to protect human rights, has an obligation to protect human life at all stages of development, from conception to natural death. Under current policy, the federal government of the United States not only refuses to protect unborn human life, but it also actively prevents the governments of its fifty states from doing so. How did we get here, and what would it take to change this situation from a legal standpoint? Continue reading

Drawing from the Well, 4/25/16

For an introduction to this series read this.

We continue this week working through the Apostles’ Creed line by line.

Memorization for this Week

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

Thoughts for Discussion with Children

What is the best thing you have ever built using Legos or blocks? What if I took away all of your Legos or blocks and left you with nothing? Do you think you could still build it? Have you ever created something out of nothing? Continue reading

Persecution in America

I want to raise and address two questions here:

(1) Are Christians in America being persecuted?

I have heard it said that if we answer “yes” to this question, we trivialize real examples of Christian persecution that are happening in other places. But I don’t think the logic of that argument follows. I view persecution on a spectrum, with relatively lighter forms and more severe forms. There is no widespread violent persecution of American Christians that I am aware of, and to this point much of the persecution we face is simply verbal in nature. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t qualify as persecution. In making reference to the story of Ishmael and Isaac, Paul write in Galatians 5:29, “But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh [Ishmael] persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit [Isaac], so also it is now.” Paul clearly refers here to the story in Genesis 21:8-9, where Ishmael apparently laughed in mockery at his younger brother, and Paul refers to it as persecution. Therefore, it seems that we have biblical justification to refer to ridicule, mockery, and other forms of verbal hostility as a form of persecution. Continue reading

What Does Church Membership Mean?

Baptist churches have always been free churches as opposed to state churches. Historically, in a state church setting, infants who were born into the church’s territory were simply baptized as a matter of course into the membership of the church. Church membership was not regarded as an act of personal commitment but simply as an aspect of one’s identity from birth.

Free churches, by contrast, operate apart from the state. Baptist churches, as a subcategory of free churches, require a personal act of voluntary commitment on the part of one seeking membership. Infants, who are incapable of performing such an act, cannot become members, and therefore they are not the proper subjects of baptism. Only those who profess faith in Jesus Christ are to be baptized and, as a result, are to become members of a local church. Continue reading

Drawing from the Well, 4/18/16

For an introduction to this series, read this.

The Apostles’ Creed is a brief summary of the Christian faith, with three main sections: one about God the Father, one about God the Son, and one about God the Holy Spirit, the church, salvation,  and eternal life. Its brevity makes it easy to memorize and still gain a fairly comprehensive vision of the whole Christian story. Here is the creed in its totality: Continue reading

The Transgender Movement and Egalitarian Theology

First, a couple of definitions:

Complementarianism is the view that men and women are designed by God to complement one another, each offering to the other what the other lacks. In other words, there is a universal concept of masculinity and a universal concept of femininity that God has written into creation itself. Specifically, this means there is a God-ordained difference in the roles that men and women are to fulfill in various spheres of life, and it is manifested most clearly in the headship of husbands in the home and the limitation of the office of pastor to men.

Egalitarianism is the view that the equality of men and women entails that there are no roles that are reserved uniquely for one sex or the other. Taken to its logical conclusion, this view would entail that there is no such thing as universal masculinity or universal femininity. Practically, this means that wives are not required to submit in any unique way to their husbands, and the office of pastor is available to both men and women. Continue reading

Making Disciples Means Planting and Building Up Churches

My church, Cornerstone Community Church in Jackson, Tennessee, does not have a creative mission statement. Essentially, our mission statement is the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. The reason for this is because we believe the mission our Lord has given to his church, and thus to every local church throughout this present age, is clearly laid out in Scripture, and thus is not something we can improve on. Of course, that mission will be carried out in different ways from location to location, but the mission itself never changes, and that mission is this: Continue reading

Drawing from the Well, 4/11/16

Today marks the beginning of a new series that I intend to post on Mondays (in addition to other content I will post throughout the week). I have entitled it “Drawing from the Well” to picture the satisfying refreshment of plunging into a deep source and bringing up life-giving, life-sustaining truth. In this case, the well is the a collection of documents from various periods of church history that outline the Christian faith in summary form, such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, etc., as well as confessions and catechisms from the modern period. I think these documents are a rich source of teaching that we could be using, not only for our own benefit, but also for the benefit of our children, but that are too often neglected. Continue reading

Preserving the Gospel through Culture Wars

When an essential truth of the gospel is condemned, the gospel itself is condemned with it, and without the gospel an institution is not a Christian church. This is simply another way of saying that the gospel is an essential, if not the essential, of biblical Christianity, and that it is the first mark of the church.  (R.C. Sproul, Getting the Gospel Right [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999], 22.)

We live in strange times. What God has revealed in Scripture and in nature regarding sexuality, marriage, and gender has come to be seen as oppressive and bigoted. As witnessed in recent battles over state bills designed to protect religious liberty in the light of such rapid cultural and legal changes regarding sexuality, the cultural forces of the new sexual orthodoxy do not desire merely to secure rights for LGBT people. They want to deny anyone who disagrees with their understanding of gender and sexuality the freedom to live publicly according to their own consciences. Nothing short of full-fledged public approval from all sectors of society will satisfy the left in this culture war. That means that Christians and other religious groups who hold to a traditional understanding of sexuality as a firm conviction of their worldview now have large targets on their backs. Continue reading