Month: August 2013

What Do We Do with False Teaching?

false-teachers

From Kenny: Yet another guest post from Tim Price.

My last post was about an experience that got me riled up. It had to do with the harm false teaching can do to people. Someone posed a great question in response,

“What do we as Christians do about it?”

Is it really our job to “fix” everyones false beliefs about God’s word, and if so with what authority do we do it? We all know that person who thinks they need to go around challenging everything you say. We know him and don’t want to be him. So we retreat into ourselves and say nothing when we are face to face with false teaching.

Inside ourselves it’s easier to think loftily that “Our theology is superior to those blaspheming idiots.” We may not always be so blunt, but if we’re honest enough with ourselves… we often do.

When talking about people inside and outside the church, Peter says, “Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones.” (2 Peter 2:10) Throughout second Peter he warns against false teaching, yet never tells us much more than about how they destroy themselves. In regards to us, he mentions protecting ourselves by supplementing faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, and so on. . . Essentially saying be wise and remember the gospel. (2 Peter 1:5,6)

It seems to me we have a lot of advice in the bible about keeping our side of the street clean and letting the others destroy themselves. That or letting God do it on the day of judgement.

On the other hand, many (well most) of Paul’s letters are letters rebuking, arguing, and essentially “fixing” theology, always reminding them of Christ and Him crucified.

I know I don’t have the authority of Paul. But I do have what he has written as an authority to my brothers and sisters and I. I do believe we are called to love each other in the truth. Sometimes that might look like having a tough conversation with someone you don’t even know. Not always, and always in love not arrogance.

But what’s it worth to just sit in your head anyway? It seems more often the bold ones are shouting lies disguised as Christianity while we know the truth and get upset, yet hold on to the safety of silence. I think it’s worth talking through weirdness. I think it’s worth getting hurt or even yelled at by a potential maniac. It’s even worth looking like a fool.

It is great news and comfort to know that God works through our foolishness (1 Corinth 1:21).

Thus Saith the Lord?

From Kenny: This is another guest post from Tim Price. Tim’s a student at Belmont University and will be writing on my blog for the next few month as a part of his senior internship. Do us a favor and leave your comments below so that Tim can learn how to deal with a real, live internet fire storm.

thus saith the lordThe other day I got upset. I don’t usually get upset. Even before I was a Christian, I didn’t have much of a temper and always tried to look at the positive side of things. Sometimes to the point where it got unhealthily optimistic, like…

“Hey Tim your arm is on fire!”
….
“Oh Haha, I should probably put that out huh?”

I tried not to take life so seriously. It couldn’t hurt you as much that way.

So, this whole “getting angry” thing doesn’t happen often. But here I was, at a concert. It was great. I was with close friends. Music was good. All was well. At the end of the concert though, a man got up on stage and began to pray for everyone. The first thing he said was something about praying in the Spirit and “Spirit languages.” I used to be judgemental of this, but have since gained a better appreciation for the different veins of Christianity.

I prepared myself to listen and be healthily optimistic about this situation….

A lot of what he said was wonderful. He rebuked things such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and encouraged people to be honest about their struggles. Somewhere in the middle of this twenty minute prayer, however, he said something that lit me on fire in a bad way.

He said, “Tonight there is a girl in here who is struggling with depression.” This was not about someone he had just spoken to, it was a “prophetic word” about someone in the room. He went on to say, “The Lord says tonight you will no longer struggle with depression!”

At the words, “The Lord said,” my stomach turned. It took me awhile to figure out why I was so upset. As I calmed down I began to think of what I thought was wrong with what he said.

Here’s what I came up with.

That room was full of girls. What are the odds that many of them struggle with depression? So, even if what he said came true for that one girl, what do you think that does to all the girls that go home, still depressed, and realize that this guy’s “word” must not have been for them?

There are many conclusions they can come to.

  • I wasn’t lucky enough to be “chosen” to be set free tonight, maybe next time.
  • I’m not special enough.
  • I didn’t DO enough.

When speaking from a microphone, to shout something like that and tag it with a “Thus saith the Lord” without grounding any of it in Scripture is a great way to make yourself God. The problem is, God may never have said that girl wouldn’t struggle with depression anymore. In the Bible, He says many wonderful things about depression and what we should believe about it.

We need His Word, not ours.

I think the words this guy spoke can be incredibly harmful to those young girls who don’t understand much about how God works in us, with us, against us, and through us in our times of struggle. Do you agree?

 

Getting Clear on What Matters Most

Getting Clear on What Matters Most

Today’s guest post is from Tim Price. Check out his last one: Dusty Old Creeds and Why We Should Care About Them.

Let’s talk about Jesus.

The Bible is a book that is ALL about Jesus. This incredible story of God’s redemptive plan in history climaxes with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is really good news. In today’s world it is just far too easy to get wrapped up in arguments about “what Christians should believe about gay marriage, abortion, war, etc…” and to miss the whole point of our faith.

In the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith we have an admittance that “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all…”

Wait what?! Why wouldn’t they give us all the answers to the Bible?

That question kind of presumes that the Bible does give all the answers, but it doesn’t. In fact, Peter writes a letter explaining that a lot of what Paul says can be very confusing! (2PE 3:16) Of course scripture isn’t completely agreeable and clear to all. Have you read it? Jesus says some pretty strange and seemingly (or definitely) offensive things.

God is both knowable and mysterious. A good confession of faith or church creed doesn’t need to add anything to the Bible in order to clear up the mystery. It should let the perfect nature of God’s awesome and mysterious character be.

But what does the Confession go on to say? “…yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.”

Don’t get me wrong! In no way am I discounting any of the legitimacy of the Bible. I just want to focus for a moment on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 2:2 Paul says to the church, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” It is so easy for us to get caught up in many things and just “move past” the Gospel…

“Check, got it, what’s next?”

In actuality, the Bible doesn’t do that. The New Testament writers are continually bringing us back to that place and saying that it is everything to us! We always go back to the Gospel. Where is our hope in times of doubt, in trouble, and trial? It’s in knowing that God loves us right?

But how do we know He loves us? Because your pastor said so? No, it is because the Bible tells me so. (see what I did there?) It tells me this over and over again. But it certainly isn’t an obligatory statement for comforting us like a pill to get us through another situation. It says God loves us by telling us what He did for us.

And what He did for us was die for us. May we never forget.

A Leafy Green Plant, Imperialistic Aliens, and the Lorax: How We Make Sense of Our World

A Leafy Green Plant, Empirial Aliens, and the Lorax: How We Make Sense of Our World

I found myself standing at my back door this morning staring at this big monstrosity of leafiness next to my garage. I’m not sure what you call it; its some kind of banana leaf looking thing. I don’t particularly care of for it, but my wife loves it. So, there it stays.

As I was standing there, coffee in hand of course, I found myself thinking about how this leafy green spectacle got there. I certainly didn’t plant the thing; nor did my wife. So how’d it get there?

Perhaps the Lorax sneakily transplanted it there in the middle of the night. Better yet, an alien beamed in from outer space and placed it there as some sort of a bio-mechanical homing beacon. Perhaps he was planning to annex my garage as the base of operations for his planet’s next phase of inter-galactic conquest.

Or maybe a seed blew in from my neighbor’s yard.

Clearly, two of those explanations are out to lunch. But why? (Mind you, I’ve not been out to the thing in order to verify wether or not it is either a Truffula tree, an alien antenna, or just a big green plant.) You might say I’ve thrown out those two options a priori, or prior to any sort of in depth investigation.

“But that’s not fair,” you cry in an insensible and argumentative tone.

Why would I be justified in doing such a thing? Well, everything I’ve learned about nature, plants, biology, and the like tells me that the process by which plants grow has more to do with seeds and germination than it has to do with mythical creatures or alien visitors.

“Duh?”

I’ve got this story, informed by my own experience and what people have taught me, that allows me to see the plant and come up with a reasonable explanation for its existence while excluding potential explanations that simply do not fit into that worldview.

“You’re losing me. So what?”

We’ve each bought into a story that helps us to make sense of the data of our everyday experiences, from the varieties of foliage in our back yards to the normal happenstances of everyday life. Wether you’re conscious of it or not, everything that hits your eyes and ears runs through this inconceivably complex filter and is shaped into something that makes sense within your experience.

As a Christian, I believe that God created everything. Everything in this world, in one way or another, bears witness to His beauty, power, and perfection. When I look out upon the ocean, I’m given a glimpse of the vastness of His unending power. When I stare up at the mountains, I’m provided with a shadow of His steadfast faithfulness throughout all generations. When I look at a human being, I’m privy to the very image of God in the flesh; right before my eyes in all its splendor.

But how do I know any of that? Why is the ocean not merely a product of an innumerable number of years of atmospheric mojo (supremely scientific terminology)? Why are the mountains not simply the natural by-product of immense geological forces? Why can’t a human being be nothing more than the spectacular sum of a grand process of evolution?

Because I believe that God has spoken in the Bible, what the theologians call his “special” revelation. In it, He provides us with the interpretative tools we need in order to make sense of our everyday experiences, or what they call “general” revelation. His is a story of beautiful creation, cataclysmic corruption, glorious redemption, and perfect restoration. The best part? It’s a true story.

That’s how I make sense of the world. That’s my story.

Perhaps yours is different. Maybe you’ve been taking generous sips off the kool-aid of today’s culture and you don’t think there’s any overarching story whatsoever. Maybe this is how you see it: “Life is about living and our actions count for little more than the moment. From indiscriminate organic matter I came and to indiscriminate organic matter I shall return.” That’s your choice and I respect it.

Of course, you do realize that the “there’s no story” bit is in itself a story, don’t you?

The question, then… what’s your story? Click here to tell it.

[This has been a reflection a principle to be observed from the following excerpt from the Westminster Confession of Faith.]

“Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church…” WCF 1.1

Dusty Old Creeds and Why We Should Care About Them

Confession of Faith Dusty Old Why Should I Care

From Kenny: This is a guest post written by my good friend, Tim Price. For the next few months, Tim will be guest-posting on my blog about historical theology, particularly in the tradition of Westminster, and why on Earth anybody in our generation should care. The posts will be practical and engaging, not churchy and boring. I hope you all enjoy!

When we find ourselves stumped by different elements of the Bible and our faith, who do we as Christians ask for advice from? Our friends, maybe our parents, usually leave us feeling inadequately informed. Pastors? They’re well equipped to help us, but unfortunately hardly that readily available to us. Our friends, parents, and pastors are great, but they can’t always help.

You ever think about reading an historical confession?

When I think of a confession of faith, my first reaction is, “Whatever dude. Sure it’s important to some people (like ancient crusty men in robes) but I don’t really care.” Like, can’t I just listen to a Tim Keller Podcast?

And when I think about writing about a confession of faith in order to convince modern thinkers that it is still important to us today, I cringe. I cringe because I want you to like me, to be enthralled with what I have to say immediately. And let’s be honest, for the average Facebook article reader, words like “Church Creed” and “Confession” are more than a turn off.

This might have a lot to do with today’s way of thinking skeptically about anything said from a place of authority. Many of us tend not to trust authority. I certainly hate authority, at least subconsciously I do. I feel that we have cultivated and grown into this idea that we are not “free” until we are completely void of authority.

Growing up I was more than rebellious. My two favorite movies being The Gladiator and The Patriot, I somehow came to think it was my purpose in life to overthrow a tyrant or at least fight in an epic battle to the death at some point in my life. However this attitude came about, I know I’m not the only one.

Maybe you don’t think as dramatically as I do, but the point still stands that we disagree with authoritative figures for the sake of it. It is attractive to us. And the attitude has affected our entire worldview.

Of course this plays into reading ancient theological texts written by crusty old men, (who we assume were only writing it to maintain control over a population). It’s not easy, but changing the way I think about authority has changed my view about many things, confessions of faith being one of the few.

For now, I’m just sayin’ that compared to where we get our usual info, it might be worth looking into a document that was prepared by 120 pastor-theologians who spent their entire lives immersed in the Bible so that they might give the Church a solid theological rock to stand on.

What do you think? Click here to tell us.