Tell Me Yours

Before we jump in together on this list, two things that inspired it and finally made me write it.

First, the album Crimson Cord by Propaganda has a song of similar style and idea. I know poetry isn’t my thing, so you get this instead. But if you want to know the soundtrack of my college years up until now, it’s probably every Prop album ever.

Second, there’s the painfully awkward moment after preaching where people tell you how good you did. It’s awkward because early on it feels like a tightrope between humility and arrogance, thankfulness and not wanting to take credit. I’ve learned to just say “thank you so much, glad you enjoyed it” but truth be told, I didn’t learn and grow up in a vaccum. So for every time I say “thank you” What I really mean is this:

I’m by no means looking for thank yous or high fives either, I didn’t earn them. I’m just a servant. But you can thank every person in every church my dad ever pastored. They put up with a smart mouth, Bible know it all, or so I thought. Thanks for the cool houses and for giving my parents a chance.

You can thank the city of Texarkana. The place where for the first year I hated because I was sick of moving as a kid. I remember not wanting to go to school, because I was socially awkward and didn’t know anybody. But even now it’s the city that beats my heart. You can thank every member of Richmond Road Baptist Church from 2000 until present day. I’ve only known love like that in maybe one other church in my whole life. You can thank John Lewis, who saw I had the ability to teach, and gave me opportunities to lead. It was the first time I realized I could preach the Gospel full time and still have fun.

You can thank Coach Bill Keopple and Kris Nichols. They are the meanest men I’ve ever known in my life, and I would even now run through a brick wall for either of them. Thank Audrey Wright for showing me what good writing was, and Matt Coleman for showing I could do it. These two English teachers showed me writing and reading will get you a long way in life. Thank Marsha Petty, who’s chemistry class I hated but she told every student that we were smart enough to succeed. I remembered that in college.

Go thank Dr. Porter and Dr. Slayton, who put up with my Cage stage Calvinism, and loved me enough to let me think I had it all figured out. Thank Dr. Jameson, who told me I was never wrong to ask questions, just wrong in the way I asked them. Go thank Dr. Thomas for telling me “you know how to preach” when I wasn’t so sure anymore. Please go thank Ann G and Corley. Thanks for giving me a radio show, I know that wasn’t easy. Thanks to Dr. New, who I should’ve paid much more attention to in class. Thanks to Nathan Brewer, Jose, Zach, David, Danny, Tyler, most people in my Bible classes. I appreciate the discussions. You guys were a huge encouragement. Thank Alex Geiger, who told me I was the wokest  Reformed guy he ever met.

Go thank Brooke and Maegan for breaking my heart. He whom God would use mightily, He wounds deeply. They were good knives of Soverign wounding. I would’ve never met Allyson, who looked me straight in my eyes in Kroger and said what those two never would: “I’m going with you no matter what happens.” She’s the steel in my spine when I don’t want to keep going. She’s taught me more about grace and love than anyone else. I love you babe.

Please go thank Donny Parrish, who called me a “preaching snob” for wanting the Gospel preached in Chapel. I decided to pick that badge up and wear it forever. That day I decided the Gospel was all I ever needed to be successful. Please thank who ever snitched me out and told the Church in Cassvile, MO I frequent bars. You guys changed my life for the better that day, though I didn’t know it then, I see it now. Thanks for showing me that the grass is greener in other pastures. Thank you.

Please thank Brent and Mack Nelson for giving me far more than a room to crash in for six months while I got my life back together. You’re the best friends I could have.

You can go thank Kevin Hale for kicking my butt, loving me like a brother, then repeating the process. Thank you for loving my arrogance out of me. Thank you for challenging me.

Go thank Lynn and Marilyn, CJ and Roland, Catie and Andrew, Bekah and John. Distance only makes the heart grow fonder. Thank Nathan, for always being my favorite pitcher, partner in crime, best heckler at games. You’re tough as nails, and no one can tell me otherwise. Play hard have fun.

Whatever you do, go thank Tanya. She always taught me how to be responsible. Who listened to the same Peter Pan movie day after day. Go tell her “you did it”. She drove me crazy during my teen years, but all she ever wanted was for me to be a man. Thanks, Mom.

But please, go grab Jerry. Get some salsa, or whatever else he’s making and thank him for teaching me about humility and strength. Thank him for all the Razorback games, all the music he ever sang. Thank him for showing me that manhood is not what feats you can accomplish, the the reputation of your name. Thank him for showing me the only way one stands in the pulpit is humbly. Thank him for all the jokes, the impressions, and movies that bust my sides each time we get together. Thanks for loving me enough to share the Gospel with me so I finally got it. You’re who I’ve always wanted to grow up to be.

 

The God of Boring Conversions

Maybe it’s my Evangelical, Missionary Baptist upbringing, but I’ve always loathed my boring testimony.  When I was a pre-teen, I went to church camp pretty regular. Every night there was some sort of late night activity: movie night, skit night, musical night, etc. But one year, we were greeted with “testimony night”. What happens is people get up, and in front of everyone , tell about who they were before getting saved and who they are now. This by the way is what introverts think of when they imagine what Hell will be like. Either publicly confessing all your sins so that every stranger in a crowded room of peers and adults know your darkest secrets or an eternity of Stand and Greet Your Neighbor Time and you don’t know anyone.

I never got up. Not just because it’s terrifying but also because I didn’t have a very good testimony. It’s boring. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely come to a place where I’ve realized that I am a sinner and without Christ, lost without hope. I’m just saying if you are asking for a total black and white transformation I don’t think I can promise you that.

Because I’ve always been in the church.

My parents raised me in a Christian home where we always prayed, we always heard the Gospel. We went to church every Sunday without fail. I don’t remember a time not knowing I was a sinner. Seriously, I’ve always understood that Christ died for me. I made a profession of faith at seven. Seven year olds don’t usually have radical stories of transformation when they’ve grown up in the Church. Sure, I coveted my friend’s Veggie Tale collection, but I by no means was a pagan. And because of that background, my teen years weren’t this rebellious time of hedonism. Again, by no means was I perfect. My parents will be the first to tell you I wasn’t. But I also wouldn’t call my Christian walk a radical transformation.

Flash forward to my Bible college years, and I’m in my bedroom my junior year, sitting there in the near dark thinking, “Am I really a Christian? Has Christ really saved me? I know I’m a sinner and I have nowhere outside of Christ to go. But this radical transformation thing? I don’t have it. I’ve always been here.”

Here’s what I was missing: God is a God of boring salvation too. Yes, there are times when He redeems people like He does Paul (Acts 9); a great black and white difference. He shows up on the Damascus road, rocks our world, shows us our sin and that Christ died for us and keeps us by faith. Sometimes, salvation comes out of nowhere and people are radically changed. And for these we should be grateful. They are great stories of God who goes and saves His people out of their bondage.

But sometimes, God is a God to us and to our children. Sometimes, He is just keeping His covenant promises. He doesn’t need a Damascus road but, rather puts us in families where, like Timothy, we’ve always known the Scriptures. I was born into a family where I would always hear the Gospel. That wasn’t chance, God is sovereign in His redemption. Instead of saying, “Oh He is a great redeemer!” I’m rather struck by looking back and seeing His strong arm to protect me. I could marvel forever at His ongoing faithfulness to keep me when I do sin. As the hymn Abide With Me says,

“Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.”

So if you, dear Christian, would doubt God’s faithfulness to you on the grounds that your conversion isn’t flashy enough, let me encourage you. God saves the rebel. He most certainly does. But He also saves His covenant children. You don’t need get a better story, but to get one more look at Christ.

Christocrat 2: No, Taxation isn’t Theft

 

I get it. As someone who used to consider myself a libertarian at one point, I get where you’re coming from. You don’t like paying taxes, and the government shouldn’t force you to pay them. And I know it’s edgy and cool for the memelord libertarians to remind everybody of what they think about our current tax structure; especially considering that everybody is focused on paying their taxes right now. But as far as those Christian brothers and sisters who consider themselves libertarian, we need to chat. Because I don’t think you can prove your “taxation is theft” Biblically. In fact I think if you take your premise to its furthest conclusion, you’ll find that your statement is far from what is Biblically acceptable.

First off, let’s just start with the obvious: Scripture doesn’t say that it is. Nowhere in Scripture are taxes equated with theft. They just aren’t. Often in Scripture other sins are equated with another. Hated is equated with murder. Lust is equated with adultery. But never do we see taxation as equated with theft. In fact when asked “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar,” Christ has a chance to outright condemn it. Here it is. Black (or Red) and white for all of us to know for sure. But Christ doesn’t condemn taxation. Rather, He calls for His believers to “render unto Caesar.”

Now of course some will say, “But how much is Caesar’s? What’s the percentage?” But listen to the heart of the question. The heart is not concerned with obedience to God and submission to the governing authorities that He has set in place. Rather it is like the nervous high school student during a True Love Waits lesson in Wednesday Night Youth lesson: What can I get away with? This is not what we are called to practice. Rather, it is putting our political desires above the Word of God.

Not only is Scripture silent on the morality of taxation itself, it does not condemn those tax collectors who collect fairly. Stick with me, we’re about to connect the dots real quick. Let’s assume the Libertarian manta is Biblically true. I’m going to give you this as a test of validity: Taxation is theft. What does that make tax collectors? Thieves. That’s the simple answer. Now we have an instance (Luke 3:12) where Tax collectors come to John the Baptizer and ask him, “What should we do?” or to modernize it, “How should we live?” So here it is, the thieves have come to John and asked them what to do. But John doesn’t tell them, “Get a new job” but rather to collect only what is owed. Don’t lie or swindle people to line your own pockets. So does John excuse sin? Does he advise people to willfully continue breaking the Ten Commandments? Christ does a similar thing in Luke 19:1-10. He doesn’t admonish the tax collector to leave his job. Rather he says that salvation has come to his house. Does Christ excuse or justify blatant sin? Either taxation is theft or Christ is OK with sinners continuing to sin. You decide how you want to answer that question.

Until then, Paul writes to us to pay our taxes because God has placed the government over us (Rom 13:7) I know that’s not fun for the libertarian to hear. I know it’s hard. The mantra is dead. Taxation isn’t theft. Maybe it’s time we give it up for a more Biblical understanding of our duty to each other.

Dynamic? Yes. Pastor? No

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While I can appreciate Logan taking up the topic of women in ministry, I found his arguments to be lacking. Do understand, he is my friend and we write together frequently. He told me what he was going to do and as the new Lead Contributor I would not be accused of censoring my friends. The beauty of Late Night Theology is that we all come from different backgrounds and there is room to peacefully disagree. I’m not saying this for his sake (he knew I was going to respond) but rather for yours, dear reader. Don’t think that disagreements mean that everything’s splitting up; this is just an exercise. A good sparring match does the body good.

But I cannot agree with him here. We could not be more different.

Logan contends that women should be allowed to the pastorate for three reasons.

  1. There were dynamic female leaders in Scripture
  2. There were dynamic female leaders in Church History.
  3. We can raise up dynamic leaders in the church today.

These are all interesting points and I’ll say this much: He’s not wrong on the premise. Yes, all three of these are true. Yes there have been dynamic female leaders in the Scriptures. Yes Phoebe, Priscilla, Lydia, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of Christ, Junia, Deborah, the Psalm 31 woman, Esther, Sarah, and Rahab all were faithful dynamic women in the Scriptures. To say otherwise is to ignore what Scriptures says. This is why I don’t understand those who would say that Scripture oppresses women. It does not treat these women as if they are “lesser”. To say so is to flat deny what Scripture plainly says.

And yes, there have been dynamic women in Church History. Katherine von Bora, Idelette Calvin, Fanny J Crosby and so much more were bulwarks in their own theological right. To say otherwise would deny the historical reality that we know to be true.

And of course, we can raise up dynamic female leaders today. Yes there should female theologians. Yes there should be female thinkers and doers. Yes women are fully capable to lead and serve the Church in grandiose and dynamic ways. To say otherwise is to treat our sisters as incapable. I cannot stand when pompous seminarians and Bible majors talk down to women in their classes. Most of my theology classes at CBC had women in them. Yes, they were brilliant. Yes they had a different view on niche, open handed discussions. Different isn’t bad. One of my first sermons as a Presbyterian, I asked a woman in the congregation what she thought about a certain line. She helped me clarify a point in my sermon. If we don’t listen to women in our churches we are ignoring possibly half of our congregations.

But

Those dynamic women in Scripture weren’t pastors or preachers. Yes they were helpful, dynamic, and led in serving the Church. That doesn’t make them pastors and doesn’t justify doing so. Scripture doesn’t give us that room. To ignore what Paul writes in Timothy is foolish. What else will we choose to ignore? Or will we let culture be our guide? Away with this! Reformed theology hangs on the doctrine of the authority of Scripture.

1 Corinthians 12:14–25

[14] For the body does not consist of one member but of many. [15] If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. [16] And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. [17] If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? [18] But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. [19] If all were a single member, where would the body be? [20] As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

[21] The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” [22] On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, [23] and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, [24] which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, [25] that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (ESV)”

We cannot say that we don’t need women in the church. That is foolish. But there is a liberty to serve. If a woman wants to serve the Church, she should be praised. But one does not need a title in order to serve. The title does not make the work more or less important. The pastor is not more important to the body as those who serve in the nursery.

So yes we should raise up dynamic female leaders. Yes we should encourage their giftings. Absolutely, we should encourage them to wrestle with the same theological truths. But we should not ignore the Scripture’s prohibition of women pastors just to give women a place to lead

Grace for the Worthless: An Open Letter to Robert Truelove

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Dear Robert,

Holy crap. I get trying to come out strong with your new blog; but wow. Two articles in two days about how Evangelical women and Evangelical men are “worthless”. Now, I’ve read both of them (multiple times) and my first reaction was stunned silence. Seriously, I just sat back in my chair and chuckled. Not because what you said was funny (cause it’s not). But because laughter is my  go to response when I’m both frustrated and confused. I know that a chuckle isn’t the best response, but it’s my natural one. Ask my wife.

On second thought, don’t do that. You’ve said enough about why she’s terrible as it is.

Now, we can talk about why clickbaity titles are pretty cliche. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but come on. Let’s ignore the fact that it’s just a petty way to get readers. It’s just lazy. But I’ll just give you that one for free. Shock value is so good for building a brand. It’s edgy, it’s masculine. Hell, next you’ll move to Seattle, sport a faux hawk, and start preaching in Tapout shirts and vests.

But let’s deal with your content about why  men are worthless. Best as I can tell, you’re premise is this: men are worthless because they don’t lead and love their wives well. Here’s the thing: I don’t disagree with your frustration. I get it. There is an epidemic of a lack of male leadership in the church. Yes, by and large men fill the offices and hold the titles. But you and I both know that the title doesn’t make the man. So yes, I agree, there’s a lack of male leadership. And leadership is hard. There is a fine line between passivity and domestic despotism; blessed is the man who can tightrope it.

But then you lose me. Because you blame this failure of men at the feet of women and Feminism. You said

“Every time men try to put their heads out there and lead, it gets whacked off. Too many evangelical women with strong Feminist leanings lament the lack of strong men while living out a worldview that emasculates men.”

and also

“It’s very telling that when a man does actually speak out against feminism, most of the responses from other evangelical men are nothing more than virtue signaling for Feminism. Too many men are infected with Pansyism. The guys have joined the girls, but fellas, the dress doesn’t fit nor flatter you.”

So let’s talk about this. I’m assuming that you’re talking about Third Wave, hyper, xym/xyr, shaved head, fishmouth, campus feminism. And yeah, they’re batty. You don’t have to tell me twice, that’s some crazy stuff. Postmodernism has never been more alive and well in the culture.

But the Church isn’t the culture. And look, maybe I’m misunderstanding. Maybe when you say most Evangelicals, you’re talking about Mainline liberal denominations. But you didn’t say that. In an attempt to be clever, you weren’t clear.

Because what you’re describing, I don’t see. You’ve said, “‘submission’ has come to mean the husband should merely lead the discussion but the wife has veto power over any decision.” I asked my wife when that’s ever happened in our short time being married. We couldn’t think of any. Now she’s pushed back on things. She’s by no means a doormat. If I wanted a doormat I’d buy one. If I wanted to just have someone who always obeyed my commands without any hesitation, I’d just get a dog.

You’ve said “Feminism lives out in the church in various ways.” Now you don’t list those ways. You just say that it happens. If you’re going to make the claim you have to prove it. But I think you’re just building a straw(wo)man out of “Evangelical Feminism”. I get it, it’s the in thing to do if you’re a white American male. Cause honestly I too hear the rhetoric and go “man I don’t think I’m as awful as they say I am”.

But I don’t think we can lay the fault at the feet of Feminism, rush off and form an Evangelical version of the Proud Boys. Yeah maybe it’s a symptom. It’s not the disease. Becaus this isn’t a new issue.

We’ve been doing this since the Fall. It’s not feminism’s fault men don’t lead well; it’s Adam’s. Sin came in the world through one man (Rom 5:12) and from that point forward, we’ve not been leading well. Now you may take this and run with it and say, “Yes but Feminism is the result of the Fall and that’s totally what I meant to get across” but that’s not what you said. Again, you were clever; but you weren’t clear.

So sure you’ve not taken it so far as To suggest that I should put my boot on my wife’s neck physically or even emotionally. But by calling us worthless, and holding up this legalistic approach to marriage, you’ve certainly asked me to do it spiritually. Because if, according to you, I am to find any worth as a Christian, then my home better be immaculate. My wife better do what I say the first time. Because Feminism has ravaged my home and the Church.

But Robert, I think I’m going to pass on that. Rather, I’m going to love my wife by trying to find SnoCaps for her. I’m going to love my wife by taking on some chores when she’s had a rough day. I’m going to love my wife by pointing her to Jesus as best I can. By leading not to despotism, but to grace.

And if I’m honest, I’m going to fail. Like every husband that’s come before me, I’m going to fail. And when I do, it won’t be becuse I’m worthless. It will be because as much as I am a saint, I still am a sinner. But the way to press forward isn’t by wrenching my stones away from Feminism and demanding obedience, but by looking to Christ; the true and better Husband.

Sure Robert, that’s probably what you meant to say. You probably meant all of what I just said. You just didn’t say it. You were being clever; not clear. But when we put extra law and an impossible standard up for where our worth is, we fail. When we put the blame on Feminism, instead of looking at the sin in our own hearts, we fail. When we fail to rest in Christ, we most certainly fail.

So Robert, I’m going to just tell you. I’m not going to kill my wife and my marriage on the altar of “masculinity”. I won’t lead perfectly. But, Christ died for me and my failure to lead- there’s grace for that. I’m not worthless, but I wish I could say the same about your article.

To the rest of you: if you’d like to hear Hannah’s push back about Women Being Worthless click here

 

 

No Mulligans

Today we as Evangelicals get to once and for all decide what our values are. We get to determine if we’re going to hand over values and morality for political power, or if “values” and “morality” actually mean something. Today we have to determine if we have any spine left. Or if we’re just Evanjellyfish

Let me be very clear. This is not a critique of the Church. I think too often we speak of the political realm like the Church as an institution must say something and I don’t think that’s the case. In fact that may be how we got here in the first place. What I am critiquing is the American Evangelical culture that we’ve developed over the last few decades. What I’m speaking about is something that I’m not sure can be called Christianity at all. Yes it’s adherants are professing believers; but I’m not sure it can be called Christianity.

I have sat down, and by and large kept my mouth shut while our President says and does things that are not only immature, but also below the actions not just of a president, but of a leader in any regard. But my critique is mostly not of the President. Shocking as it may be, I’ve given up. Wicked people do wicked things. It’s not a surprise. It shouldn’t be anyway.

But let’s catch everybody up on what’s going on as of late. It is being alleged that the President had an inappropriate relationship with an adult film star before running for office. That is to say that he cheated on his third wife with an adult entertainer. Not only that, but then as a candidate, paid hush money to said actress in order to keep her quiet. That is what we face. Of course these have all been denied.

But let’s be very clear. If the President at any time cheated on his wife and had an inappropriate relationship with anybody, he is a liar and an adulterer. He has desecrated the sanctity of marriage. He has not only lied, but with money has coerced others to lie for him. He is a sinner. He should repent. If these allegations are true as the woman’s 2011 interview suggests, then shame on him. Shame.

But that’s not my issue. Oh no, as shameful as that is I’ve got an even bigger bee in my bonnet. Because while I certainly expect sinners to do sinful things, I think Christian leaders who at this point still pretend like he’s never done anything wrong can jump off a cliff. Seriosuly, at this point they’re doing more harm than good. Oh, we can say “The President is surrounding himself with faithful Evangelicals.” But what’s the point of all they are are yes men; false prophets and brown nosers? Robert Jeffress has his choir sing a song about Trump. If that isn’t blatant idolatry I don’t know what is. Tony Perkins has come and said that we as Evangelicals are giving Trump a mulligan on this adultry issue. Yes that’s right. A mulligan. A do over.

Understand dear reader, I know my lane. We’re a small blog. I get it. I’m thankful for every single one of you who read Late Night Theology. You are all great. I highly doubt That Tony Perkins is going to read this.

But

He should know that forgiveness does not come without repentance. That’s like, a major tenant of the faith. You want to be forgiven, you must repent and confess that your a sinner. That hasn’t happened yet. He should know that David was a man after God’s heart because he repented, not because he slept with (raped?) Uriah’s wife. He should know that exchanging the birthright of the Gospel for the red soup of power is a really bad step for the Church. He should know he doesn’t speak for all of us. He should know he’s a charlatan, and he’s not fooling anybody.

What these court Evanjellyfish leaders are doing won’t stop. You think this is Trump’s last mulligan? You think it’s his first? They’re just going to keep finding ways to excuse it. Franklin Graham was asked last night the difference between the Daniels affair and the Lewinsky scandal was. His response? Trump wasn’t in office at the time.

Shocking as it is, he’s absolutely right. I was upset at first, but he’s shown his hand. The emphasis on morality depends who sits in the chair. See if it’s Clinton, this is a scandal. We have a culture of falsehood, adultry, and sin. But now that it’s Trump, it’s all about what he will do as a president. Let’s not focus on his sin, let’s vote for the worldview. This isn’t just favoritism, this is hypocracy. Oh you thought Post-Modern gymnastics was just a thing at those “liberal universities”? No, sadly morality is relative to Jeffress, Graham, and Perkins. All my life I’ve heard about how we need to vote our values; and that’s good. Our morals and values are the spine of our political life. But these are Evanjellyfish.

Today, we as Evangelicals, true Bible believing Evangelicals have to decide. Are we going to let these people sell out for thirty pieces of silver and access to the Oval Office? Are we going to pretend that we don’t care about morality? Was that just lip service for power? Maybe so. While they be willing to overlook the President’s sins; I’m not giving Perkins, Jeffress, or Graham any mulligans.

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Don’t Just Do Something! Stand There!

The greatest threat facing the Church isn’t political Evangelicalism. It isn’t the loss of religious liberty, the Democrats or Darwinism. Our greatest threat isn’t George Soros, the “Gay Agenda”, or mainstream media. It isn’t Donald Trump, Arminianism, Dispensationalism, Federal Vision, or even John Piper’s really bad Sanctification views. The greatest threat we face is that we stop preaching the Gospel. The worst thing that we could do is to think that Christ is more glorified in something else. This includes social justice.

Yes, social justice is sexy right now. It is tangible, we can see who’s acting for justice and who isn’t. Caring for the poor, speaking up for those who are oppressed due to their race or socioeconomic condition; when we perform these works, they are true, tangible acts of mercy. To deny that we are called to perform these works is to outright deny one of the logical applications of the Gospel. The Gospel calls us to seek the justice of those around us.

But social justice isn’t the Gospel.

Which is essientially what Tim Keller tweeted yesterday.

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But judging by the response from the Mainline liberals (PCUSA, ELCA, Rachel Held Evans was pretty aggressive with it, but she wasn’t the only one) you’d have thought that Keller denied the virgin birth, the authority of Scripture, that homosexuality is a sin, and that miracles exist. I’m not saying the mainline liberals are making social justice a bigger issue than all of these. I’m just saying that’s apparently the hill to die on.

But isn’t it interesting that this is apparently the bill to die on. While they may all use this flowery language: “Christ didn’t come to merely forgive sins but also to bring shalom to all of creation and restore justice”. While that sounds really good they give up their hand. Mainline liberalism has not just denied the virgin birth, the reliability of Scripture, or the deity of Christ. They’ve denied the fundamental human problem. It’s not so much that you and I are sinners. That’s not the real issue. The real issue for them is all this injustice in the world. So then justification is not something Christ has done for us. It’s something he’s initiated that we must then work out. Granted that seems rather odd because the New Testament writers seem to have left that out. But this imperative driven call isn’t new. Isn’t it interesting? The same duty based, “do this because it’s the most important thing” psudeo-piety of the Mainliners is the same Pharisaical, don’t dance, drink, or chew, if there’s hair on your ears there’s sin your heart, legalism they hate in the Hyper-fundamentalists. They hate each other so much, but really they’re just cousins of the same imperative driven “gospel”.

As Machen said

“Here is found the most fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity–liberalism is altogether in the imperative mood, while Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative; liberalism appeals to man’s will, while Christianity announces, first, a gracious act of God.”

While the mainline liberals will say “Don’t just stand there! Do something!” Christ calls out to us, “Don’t just do something! Stand there!” Stand strong, grounded that Christ has redeemed us; yes us as individuals. Stand firm! The Gospel not only matters, but is the only hope we have. Five years ago I was told I had no place in the Baptist Missionary Association partly because beer tastes good, but also because I had the nerve to tell the Dean of Spiritual Life at Central Baptist College that people weren’t preaching the Gospel in Chapel. I was called a “preaching snob” because I thought Scripture was more important than motivation speaking and “catching my vision”. But we shouldn’t give up the Gospel for motivational speaking and we shouldn’t give it up for social justice. Because motivational speaking or social justice isn’t the Gospel. It’s about time we started acting like it.