This is hands down the smartest thing I've read on Australia's foolish flirting with confrontation with China, from an Australian source.
Wednesday 31 August 2022
This is hands down the smartest thing I've read on Australia's foolish flirting with confrontation with China, from an Australian source.
Tuesday 30 August 2022
This was the Pharisees biggest problem. They thought they had earned everything from God by right and by effort, rather than receiving from God in faith and by grace. We know Jesus was speaking about them, because verse 1-2 of Luke 15 says, "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Jesus was challenging their self-righteous perspective, they could not understand the grace Jesus was showing to sinners.
"9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed" (1 Cor. 15:9-11).
Paul achieved more than all of us, but he knew it was not him. It was God. It was all of the grace of God. A man who gets this does not get bitter at others receiving good things, because he knows he has received everything he has as a gift himself, including all that he "earnt".
Monday 29 August 2022
In addition, borrowers who are employed by non-profits, the military, or federal, state, Tribal, or local government may be eligible to have all of their student loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This is because of time-limited changes that waive certain eligibility criteria in the PSLF program. These temporary changes expire on October 31, 2022. For more information on eligibility and requirements, go to PSLF.gov."
So, those saying that the debt forgiveness is largely going to the affluent, are not correct. The plan does not favour high income workers. Pell Grants are given to lower income families to help poorer kids get into college:
The Studentaid information site also implies the debt is being wiped, cancelled, or credited to them as paid. This would suggest that the monetary supply is about to be reduced. Money owed is being wiped from the system. This is both good, and necessary. Yes, this money was lent from government money, which is largely gathered from people's taxes. But the US, as a reserve currency, also have the ability to print its own money, and does do this often. In this case, it would appear it is doing the opposite, it is deleting money from the system, by wiping debts. But this is still not completely clear.
But the best part of the plan is also to make student debt more affordable going forward:
"Income-based repayment plans have long existed within the U.S. Department of Education. However, the Biden-Harris Administration is proposing a rule to create a new income-driven repayment plan that will substantially reduce future monthly payments for lower- and middle-income borrowers.
The rule would:
Sunday 28 August 2022
Thursday 25 August 2022
When electing elders it is vital that you not only get the right kind of man, but the right kind of man with the right kind of wife. This is vital.
Elder’s Wives - Now some people think it is curious that none of these passages directly have advice for elder’s wives (unless you include 1 Tim. 3:11). Titus does address older women, which we will look at in the coming weeks. But why don’t these passages directly address elder's wives?
Some people might think that it does not address them, because it does not matter. A man should be chosen on his merits, and his wife’s character is not that vital. But I could not disagree more, because Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:4 – “4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?”
So, considering a man’s wife is part of his household, then how she follows her husband’s lead is vital.
So why does Paul not address elder’s wives directly?
Well, I think the answer to that is because the Bible has already done that brilliantly, in Proverbs 31. An oft misunderstood passage. Let’s look at it – “10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
Now, the reason this passage is so often misunderstood is two-fold. Firstly, it begins by saying, “An excellent wife who can find?” Most men consider their wives excellent, so they immediately see their wife as the Proverbs 31 wife. Who has the gall to say his wife is not excellent? But this passage defines excellent in a specific way. Second, people see this woman as highly active, even in the marketplace, “24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant,” so they confuse this with saying that she should be out working like her husband is.
But what this passage is describing is a man who manages his household well, verse 1-2 begins, 30:1-2 “1 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him: 2 What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?” Lemuel’s mother is giving him advice and wisdom about how to manage his kingdom, and his household. And in this context she tells him what kind of wife he will need to manage his household well, so he can be a leader among men.
Proverbs 31:10-11 – “10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”
What kind of wife does a leading man need? One to whom he can delegate the responsibilities of managing the home, which in this day, included negotiating in the town marketplace, so that he can focus on his job. And what is his job? To lead. To be an elder – “23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”
In other words, Proverbs 31 is describing to us the character of the elder’s wife. What is she like? She is the woman to whom he can trust with all the management of the household, so he can crush and win for them in society.
This man does not need to micromanage his wife. He does not need to take her role from her. He does not need to worry about being harangued for not taking her role. He simply focuses on his role outside the home, to lead, provide and manage the city. And she focuses on keeping the fort so he can do this.
She is the kind of wife Darryl Kerrigan has: https://vimeo.com/119334260. And because Darryl has this kind of wife he can crush, he can win, in society.
This was the norm in our country not that long ago. But now guys like this are seen as sexist or misogynist. Which makes me laugh. When people criticize my old-fashioned ways, I like to laugh and say thanks for noticing.
If you have ever wondered where are all Australia’s leading men have gone? They are buried under the weight of seeking to live in egalitarian homes without clear gender boundaries. Why? Because a wife such as this is hard to find today.
Now, we live in a society where a man is told from every direction he is supposed to be encouraging his wife to give half of the Proverbs 31 duties to him. And that he is supposed to give half of his duties to her.
This is why there is a dearth of the right kind of leadership in the church and in society. Because the church decided to reject traditional gender roles, and now most men and women are worn out, society is confused, and there are less and less men with wives like this to choose from. That is something to ponder.
So, not only does the Bible address the elder’s wife, it does it in a beautiful and brilliant way, that it appears Paul felt no need to add to.
This is an excerpt from a sermon, you can hear the rest of this message here.
Wednesday 24 August 2022
We'd watch the lightning crack over canefields
Laugh and think, this is Australia."
To this sunburnt land we will see a flood
And to this great southland His Spirit comes."
Tuesday 23 August 2022
The Bible gives us some clear directions about who we should appoint as elders/pastors in a church. It cannot just be any person, or even any man. We need to carefully and biblically select the right men to lead. An elder must be, according to Paul in Titus 1 needs to be the husband of one wife.
A One Woman Man (v.6) – We will spend a fair bit of time on this next section, because it is both very clear and also incredibly ignored, “6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination…9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” So, unless you believe twisted things about gender expression, then Paul is 100% clear that teaching elders must be godly men, who are above reproach. Scripture is consistent on this issue.
Above reproach – This means above credible accusation, above suspicion.
Above reproach means, he does not spend time alone with women that he should not, or spend time with women in a way that he should not. Billy Graham had a wonderful rule where he would not be alone with a woman, so as to not allow either opportunity for sin, or opportunity for accusation.
Martin Luther King Jnr, who is often thought of as great man of God, falsely, is well known for having cheated on his wife often. It was caught on tape. There are reports of even worse things happening. Not only was he not above reproach, the FBI had him on record doing these things.
Above reproach means he does not handle money in a dishonest way.
Above reproach means he doesn’t try to keep the running of the church hidden from people. But the Church finances are an open book. In fact, if he is wise, he handles the money in the view of others, so that there is no occasion for accusation. Or he delegates the handling of money, like Jesus did.
This doesn’t mean he won’t be accused. Because people even do try to accuse honest men. But he’ll be able to say, “Look I was never even alone with her, I don’t handle the money, and the whole church agreed on this expense being spent.”
Men – The teaching elder/pastor must be a man. I don’t know what command the modern church ignores the most. Is it the commands to evangelize? Or to avoid gluttony? To avoid pornea? To not seek the approval of man? I don’t know what it is, only God does I guess. But this is a common one, and it is growing. So much of the Church ignores the patriarchal teaching in God’s word. Patriarchy means leadership in society, church and home by men, and they ignore it to the detriment of society, church and men. The Bible is absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably, and unrepentantly patriarchal: “…appoint elders in every town as I directed you…the husband of one wife.” This excludes women, and it excludes polygamists. This is not an accident. Ancient pagan religion encouraged women to be priests, and it often gave male priests such power they could get access to many wives.
In fact, when we studied the cults a couple of years ago at Bible study, people were surprised how many of them allow polygamy.
Christianity is against both of these things. Christianity is anti-matriarchal, that is against being woman led, and anti-polygamist, that is against men hoarding woman.
I am not saying churches that do not follow this are not churches. They are simply churches that are out of order. They are churches acting in rebellion. This is not my opinion, this is a consistent teaching in Scripture, and church history, until about 100 or so years ago. Let me demonstrate.
Paul was consistent -
1 Timothy 2:11-13 – “11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
This doesn’t apply to worship leading, because Miriam, Moses’s sister led worship in Israel.
1 Timothy 3:1-2 – “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…”
It is impossible to be the husband of one wife, unless you are a man.
Jesus set this standard himself – when he chose 12 men to be leaders of his Church movement. Matthew 10:1-4 – “1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
If there was ever any man who flouted ungodly traditions more than any other, it was Jesus. Jesus had no respect, and in fact, utter contempt, for any human tradition that sought to overrule God’s traditions and God’s heart for humanity. He healed on the sabbath, made clay on the sabbath, triggering the Pharisees, said it was ok for his disciples to ground grain on the sabbath. He used imagery offensive to the Jewish people when teaching after feeding the 5000 in John 6. He railed against the Jewish leaders for abusing their positions of power with extra-biblical commands. He insulted men who deserved it, he insulted women who deserved it. He did not care, one iota, for human culture and traditions.
So, when Jesus chose twelve Jewish men, we can be absolutely certain that he was not just following the traditions of his age. He was not trying to be culturally sensitive. He was following a template outlined since creation: that God has given the man authority to name, and the woman the role of helpmate.
Both are vital, necessary and important roles. Neither to be disparaged, but also neither to be confused.
There are "Christians" today that believe if Jesus was around today he would have chosen 3 white Apostles, 3 black apostles, 3 Asian apostles, 3 mixed race apostles, 6 male Apostles, 6 women apostles, and a combination of gender expressions in the mix. As opposed to 12 men all of the same ethnic background. A lot of Christianity today is more disconnected from the Bible than it has ever been in any period of history ever.
But Jesus did not care about being culturally sensitive, he established a patriarchal church leadership. Patriarchal in the Christian sense, means, God the father, who is the first patriarch, God the son, who is equal with the father, and man who is far below God, but his steward in authority.
The choosing of the twelve is pretty explicit, but there is another just as important passage.
Jezebel – Jesus says this in Revelation 2:19-21 – “19 ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.”
Now people tend to focus in on her sexual immorality here, in this passage. Which makes sense, as the sexual immorality is highlighted. But they miss that Jesus notes three problems with Jezebel – 1) she assumes authority, 2) she presumes to teach, 3) she is not chaste. Why is this significant?
Because this is the exact reverse image of what Paul says a woman should be in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, 15 – “11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet… 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” Paul gives the exact same list, but from the other perspective: a godly women is one who 1) does not seek to teach men, 2) does not seek authority over men, 3) she is sexually righteous, exemplified by seeking to be a mother, and not like Jezebel.
You can summarize what Paul says here as simply: don’t seek to be like Jezebel. In fact, this is where the idea of the Jezebel spirit comes from. Technically, the correct term should be “Asherah Spirit”, but to explain that would take an entire sermon or two itself.
These men need to not just be this way, but guard the church from rejecting these traditions handed on by Paul, “9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” These men who are above reproach need to make sure that these traditions are guarded. Not all tradition should be rejected, many traditions are good and protect us from bad things happening. The traditions the Bible itself hands down exist to guard the church from serious evil.
Sticking to the strong biblical tradition of patriarchal leadership, protects the church from many errors.
Just this week I saw an Anglican minister brag about how his church has allowed female pastors for some time, and on the exact same day, that denomination was splitting over gender issues, because the highly feminized Anglican leadership was allowing for homosexual leaders in their churches.
But here is another point: many of the famous evangelical leaders, that have pushed for women in ministry, have been revealed as having acted inappropriately with the women around them. Their desire to work closely to women should be seen not as progressive, but as a warning sign, or at the very least as foolish disregard for wisdom.
So, one-woman men, with good character, whose children are believers, are the only options for leadership. But what about their wives?
This is an excerpt from a sermon, to hear the rest of this message click here.
Monday 22 August 2022
My first response to seeing this news is to celebrate and rejoice. My second response it to not get my hopes up. My third is to pray and call others to pray that:
- The inquiry would not be too limited.
- The leading government officials who greatly broke the bounds of justice and equity would not get immunity.
- The power of the commission to investigate pharmaceutical companies is used.
"The Federal Government will call a royal commission or similar inquiry into Australia's response to the COVID pandemic "as soon as practicable" - an inquiry which would mostly focus on the response of the Federal Government but would also look at state governments' responses to the pandemic, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has told Sunday Agenda.
Asked if such a body, when it is set up, would look only at the federal government response or also state governments, Mr Albanese said: "You'd need to look at the response of all governments."
Sunday 21 August 2022
Saturday 20 August 2022
Was once the terrible man Saul. There are people who believe God cannot save him. To such people I encourage them to look at Paul, the Apostle:
Man Paul – (v. 1) Paul
begins in Titus 1:1 by identifying himself, “1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle
of Jesus Christ.” Now these are words that you could easily skip over.
Because there is nothing remarkable about what they mean. His name is Paul, he
is a servant of God and commissioned officer of Jesus. This is pretty
self-explanatory right? But think about this, this Paul guy was originally
someone very different.
Saul – Paul was originally Saul, a Pharisee of Pharisees. The first time we see him in the Bible this is how we see him described – Acts 7:54-8:3 – “54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 8:1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.”
We see here that Paul was one of the worst kinds of people. The kind of guy that hated Jesus, hated the Apostles, and hated everything about Christianity. He was in every way a zealous persecutor of Christians and even identified himself as such, Philippians 3:6 - “6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
We often hear it said that Paul was a murderer of Christians, and you could read his approval of Stephen’s execution this way. But this is not said directly.
His approval could mean that he was ok with it, and happy it was happening, which makes him a bad guy.
Or that they had to seek his approval to do so, in that case, then sure, then he is an accomplice to murder.
Either way, he was happy to see Christians suffer, die and be punished in various ways. And he was definitely putting Christians in jail and persecuting them brutally, and there’s no doubt many of these Christians would have been treated harshly by the Jews in power at the time.
The closest we get to the Bible directly saying Paul was a murderer is Acts 9:1-2 - “1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Paul here is not being described as a murderer, but as someone who was screaming bloody murder at the Jewish Christians.
Perhaps you can read this as Paul being a murderer, and that’s fine if you do. I am not saying he wasn’t, just that it is not as clear as most say.
But make no mistake, he would have aided in their executions and stoning’s. No doubt. But he would have seen himself not as a murderer but as a righteous agent of God’s law, which prescribed punishment for idol worshippers.
As Paul says, zealously handing over heretics to be persecuted was his duty to his people. Philippians 3:6 - “4 …If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
Paul - But however, you want to exactly slice it, Paul was in every way a bad guy. He was the Taliban. He was the KGB. He was the German Stasi. He was the agent of Jewish power to bring to bear destruction against Christianity. But then he was made into not just an Apostle, but one of the greatest apostles. What happened? He encountered Jesus, there are some wonderful passages that explore this, but the one I want to look at is 1 Corinthians 15 –
1 Corinthians 15:8-11 – “8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”
What changed Paul was that he encountered Jesus. On that Damascus road the grace of God changed him and changed him forever. Paul went from being an agent of Jewish persecution against the Church, and became a servant of God’s chosen people, the Church.
When Paul says the Church is the elect, he is saying: they are the chosen people. That is what elect means, it means we are the Chosen ones, we are God’s special people.
Imagine how this impacted Paul. Imagine the impact this had on his life. He believed he was protecting God’s people, but then he encountered Jesus and found out that he was harming God’s people.
This changed Paul forever. He was always deeply committed to the people of God, he had just gotten this wrong, because he was deceived, and once he was transformed he dedicated his life to becoming a zealous messenger of the gospel, and apostle.
Apostle - An Apostle in the ancient world was a military commission. A general would commission one of his officers to achieve a particular task. When Jesus stands on the mountain and addresses his 11 disciples in Matthew 28, he is commissioning them as his representative officers. That is why it is called “the Great Commission”. Many would argue, and I would probably agree with them, that Jesus chose Paul to be his 12th Apostle.
Jesus chose this maybe Christian murdering, at best Christian persecuting, zealot, to be one of the greatest Apostle’s and the author of much of the New Testament. Wow!!
The transforming gospel - this highlights the transforming power of the gospel of God. Paul’s life and testimony is an important gauge of the grace of God. A lot of people misunderstand the grace of God. Some people think it just means undeserved blessings. It does mean this, but note, Paul’s summation of it shows it means much more than this.
The grace of God is effectual power that changes your life. No one can encounter the grace of God and not be radically changed, “10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” (share Paul washer truck illustration).
The radical change in Paul’s life, shows that when God changes a man or a woman, that it radically changes their entire orientation in life. You will not become perfect, that happens in the next life. But you will become a changed person that advances the kingdom of light, just as surely as you were advancing darkness in your unsaved life.
Paul’s life highlights this in an amazing way. Which is why we should listen to Paul when he tells us what God does with his elect, let’s keep reading.
To hear the full sermon listen here
Friday 19 August 2022
Australians have to stop interfering in Indigenous communities. It needs to stop.
"The end of a 'race-based policy' which saw alcohol banned in indigenous communities for 15 years has resulted in an immediate spike in violence and booze related injuries.
In the first 48 hours after the Albanese Government lifted the ban on July 17, Alice Springs Police recorded 54 domestic-violence incidents with Aboriginal health advocates claiming 'things have not settled' in the three weeks since the restrictions were lifted.
The Northern Territory's Associations and Liquor Amendment Bill 2022 passed in May gave Indigenous communities the choice to 'opt-in' to a two-year extension of their alcohol-free status."
For qualification, I'm not saying lifting the ban on alcohol is interference. I am talking about the paternal approach Australian governments take to Indigenous communities in general.
If I were one of the people in these communities I would find a way to get out. I think such communities have a right to exist, and a right to self-determination, and a right to have alcohol sold in their towns if they want it. They should be free to make their own decisions, in fact they should be free from outside interference as much as they desire. But I can't see any advantage to yourself, or your family, to continue to live in a dysfunctional community.Note: I know that not all these communities are dysfunctional, praise God, and the one's that aren't, I have heard, are incredible places to visit. Also note: I know how deeply many indigenous Aussies are connected to their land. I know it is a powerful and spiritual element of their identity. It's not one that most white fellas understand, but that doesn't make it any less significant. Note: I also sympathize with indigenous people for having lost sovereignty over their lands, and being conquered (however slowly and peacefully it happened, it is still conquest when you no longer get to rule yourselves) by another people. Before you get all annoyed at me agreeing with a "leftist" talking point note this: Anglo-Saxon Aussies are slowly losing the land, now, just as our indigenous Aussie brothers did. Things come around. Defensively denying them doesn't change reality.
But all that being said, I genuinely believe if you can get out of a dysfunctional community, then you should, and all our efforts should be put towards making that goal possible for those that want to. Because then they have a chance of leaving behind an old way, for potentially a better way. Anglo-Saxon society improved when our ancestors rejected their pagan ways and moved towards a Christian way of seeing the world. This cycle has been true of many peoples.
These are just my thoughts. They could be applied to many non-indigenous communities as well.
Thursday 18 August 2022
As I was finalising the manuscript to my book Forgotten Covenant, I was inspired by a podcast about creeds and confessions to put together a preface for my book. Written in the form of a letter to the reader, it offers my explanation of why making a case for a secondary theological issue matters, and why we shouldn’t be afraid to express and engage with these kinds of disagreements. But like what I did with Why then the Law?, I thought I would leave it out and publish it elsewhere.
Below is the preface that I have modified somewhat to make it more suitable for this format and purpose as we seek to understand: how are we to respond when we encounter theological disagreement?
To the Reader,
I would like to thank you for opening this book. Not so much because it supports me, although that is very appreciated, but rather because it means you take theology seriously. You want to have a good understanding of God’s Word and what it has to teach us about God, the Gospel, and righteous living. And for that, I sincerely encourage you.
What I discuss in the book I’ve been working on, Forgotten Covenant, is a topic that not only fascinates me, but addresses a question that I believe is important if we are to be equipped to be effective students, and for some, teachers of the Word. Many throughout Church History have presented views and perspectives on the question of the unity and continuity of Scripture and have arrived at different conclusions. And although there is disagreement, what matters to me is that there is still solidarity in the recognition of the truth of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, for this is where we find the unity that counts. I am happy to agree to disagree over minor differences in interpretations. As I hope many of you discover about me, even if we disagree on any of my interpretations of scripture and the conclusions regarding secondary matters, I hope we can find agreement in the fact that having a robust, biblical theology matters.
So perhaps you may be wondering, ‘if it is only a secondary matter, why bother writing this book? Why spend three to four years researching, writing, and editing such a long work about a topic when if we disagree, that’s okay?’ I think this is a very valid question to ask because it can help us as we engage with other believers on a multitude of issues. And so, here is my response.
I have found that some Christians are afraid of ‘theology’ because of how disagreements can result in division. As a result, ‘No creed but Christ’ becomes their confession. I’m quite convinced that this position starts with a tainted view of the idea of ‘debate’ and ‘argument’. Many hear the word and immediately think of the negative connotations of conflict, criticism, exclusion and aggression. But a debate is merely the formal discussion of opposing positions, and an argument is a reason for holding to a particular view. And while it must be acknowledged that the negative expressions of these words do exist, and the imbalances of the proud who see minor matters as Gospel issues are worthy of critique, indifference is not the right response either.
The Epistle of Jude sits within this tension of addressing disagreement and ignoring differences. The letter begins by encouraging the Church to ‘contend for the faith’ (v.3) against those who have snuck in and ‘perverted the grace of God’ and denied the Lordship of Christ (v.4). This is why in Galatians 2 it doesn’t say, “…before certain men came from James, Peter was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said nothing to Cephas because everyone is on a journey and I’d rather maintain peace and unity.”
Yet, towards the end of Jude, it condemns those who create divisions (v.19). Note that the dividers who are condemned are the ones who do so by promoting falsehood and ‘ungodly passions’, not those who separate themselves from the false teachers. What this means for us is that we should care about true doctrine, and as a result, be intolerant of those who promote lies and sin (Rev 2:20). If someone promotes cheap grace, or rejects the Trinity, the exclusivity of Christ, or salvation by faith alone, it’s important to assume first that they may be misinformed, confused, or perhaps not expressing their position clearly. So love them enough to ask questions, give scripture, gently lead them towards the truth, and if they are genuine they will be open to wanting to understand more. But if even after this they still reject it whole-heartedly, continue to pray for and love them, but also recognise that they hold to a different religion.
But what about responding to disagreements over non-essential matters when both of us are appealing to Scripture? Indifference, still, is not the response.
Gresham Machen in his book Christianity and Liberalism (2009) explains that although differences in theology can create divisions, indifference is worse. Drawing on the disagreements between the Reformers regarding the Lord’s Supper, he concludes:
“Luther was wrong about the Supper, but not nearly so wrong as he would have been if, being wrong, he said to his opponents: ‘Brethren, this matter is a trifle; and it makes really very little difference what a man thinks about the table of the Lord.’ Such indifferentism would have been far more deadly than all the divisions between the branches of the Church. A Luther who would have compromised… would never have said at the Diet of Worms, ‘Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me, Amen.’ Indifferentism about doctrine makes no heroes of the faith” (p.42).
If we are to continue in the Protestant tradition, we must have strong theological convictions that are shaped by Scripture. Being indifferent and maintaining the doctrinal status quo in the name of peace and unity is not the solution to theological disagreements. Not that we become arrogant nor Pharisaical about it, calling all who differ with us on these non-essential matters, heretics. Instead, what this looks like is the confidence to express: ‘Here is what I believe and why.’ Moreover, it should allow us to be open to review and examine our own theology as we consider other views, provided that their position is shaped and formed by Scripture too. In so doing, this is iron sharpening iron (Prov 27:17), refining our understanding of God and His Word. This principle is how the inspiration for my book came about.
While discussing theology with those who disagree with me on some secondary matters, I found for some, their positions on a number of topics (in particular those covered in the book) were based more on tradition and selective (sometimes misrepresented) passages, rather than a deep and informed hermeneutic. And instead of wanting to discuss our views and interpretations meaningfully, they prefer to avoid healthy debate. And so, although the ideas covered in Forgotten Covenant are nowhere near as important as Jude’s issues, I wanted to write something that both allows me to present my position on the unity of Scripture. Moreover, I wanted to invite people to consider what I have to say and to think critically and reflect biblically about their position too. And although that is where the book started, this work for me is much more than wanting to change anyone’s mind. It is, more importantly, about helping people to not only better understand how to put the parts of the Bible together, but also to see the beauty in its unity and the devotion and sovereignty with which the Lord fulfils His promises. In short, my goal is ultimately to glorify the majesty of God. One cannot glorify God with theological pacifism.
So when you encounter someone with a different theology,
- Ask yourself if it is a definitional, gospel issue.
- Respectfully ask them how they defend their position.
- Don’t be afraid to politely press on perceived inconsistencies and offer your reasons for your own view.
- When you can find agreement on the essentials, serve together in the mission of the Kingdom, remembering that this is what really matters.
Blessings in Christ,
Forgotten Covenant is now available online from many of your favourite book stores.