Serious Times


I know I said I would disappear for a week, but I couldn’t help but pass along this article!

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As we peruse the world of voices that are being lifted up in Southern Baptist life one must certainly feel at times as if they are being bombarded with clanging cymbals. I am often frustrated by the lack of love and unity that seems to be evidenced by one believer towards another. We seem to be so convinced of the need for doctrinal purity (which should be applauded, I might add) that we often only give lip service to unity and love (which should be considered shameful, I might add.) James Emery White, over at SeriousTimes.com, has written a commendable article discussing the need for unity and love in the pursuit of doctrinal purity. Below is a particularly compelling quote.

A recent editorial in Christianity Today discussed how no attribute of civilized life seems more under attack than civility. The author, David Aikman, notes the extent to which Christians have turned themselves into the

“self appointed attack dogs of Christendom. They seem determined to savage not only opponents of Christianity, but also fellow believers of whose doctrinal positions they disapprove. A troll through the Internet reveals websites so drenched in sarcasm and animosity than an agnostic, or a follower of another faith tradition interested in what it means to become a Christian, might be permanently disillusioned.”

Will we repent? I do not know. There are two categories of sin – those of the flesh, and those of the spirit. We have tended to pinpoint the glutton, drunkard, and adulterer far more quickly than we have the prideful, arrogant, and mean-spirited. Even more, we have turned a blind eye to – if not celebrated – caustic, mean-spirited words, actions and attitudes as if they are not reprehensible before heaven.

The irony is staggering: we spew venom in the name of defending our sense of orthodoxy and in so doing destroy the vibrancy of our faith and our witness to the world more than a thousand heresies.

If you would like to read the rest of the article, you can do so by clicking here.

**UPDATE** I also recently came across this article from outstanding writer, Ariel Vanderhorst. I think it would behoove you to read his thoughts about “gospel silliness.”

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

9 thoughts on “Serious Times

  1. Miciah,

    I read the “gospel silliness” with a little dismay.

    The writer said, ” Mark DeVine recently made the comment that God is so thrilled when believers make any kind of attempt to communicate the gospel to people that he overlooks outlandish and silly techniques, and sometimes even uses them to point people to Jesus.”

    God is so thrilled when believers make any kind of attempt to communicate the gospel? Ummm, excuse me, but God is not waiting around to see who is going to do what, hoping someone will do what God likes.

    If anyone communicates the gospel in any form or fashion it is because God has caused that person to desire to do so in the form which God has caused them to do it.

    DeVine has a nice sentiment, however, it is wholly unbiblical.

    Les

  2. Les-

    You know I love you, man, but I disagree with you on this one. I think Devine’s point is that God values our efforts to communicate the gospel. God also recognizes that our efforts are always a bit clumsy, some simply more so than others. He blesses our clumsy efforts by using them to bring people to Himself.

    Your statement, Ummm, excuse me, but God is not waiting around to see who is going to do what, hoping someone will do what God likes. is simply representative of something that Devine did not claim. The point is not that God needs our efforts nor that He is unaware of what will occur in the future, but rather that God has chosen to use us as His vehicle for communicating the gospel and that He is pleased when we are obedient.

    There is little doubt, in my mind anyway, that God is pleased when we make efforts to obey Him, even when those efforts are a bit clumsy.

  3. Thanks for the link, Micah.

    I agree with your response to Les, as to what DeVine (and me) were and were not saying. God isn’t waiting nervously in heaven for someone to finally act on His commands so that He can get on with saving the world. But when the Spirit does move us to obedience, our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission are filtered through our existing knowledge, experience, and background–and therefore we sometimes do silly things (though with good motives).

    Fortunately, God gets a kick our of using weak people and clumsy efforts to accomplish his incredible, perfect plans.

  4. Micah,

    I love you too. Perhaps I have not made myself clear. As do you, I believe that God takes great pleasure when His gospel is communicated, whether clumsily or elegantly. However, it is my contention that unless God places a desire in my heart to share the gospel, then I, a sinner saved by grace with no merit of my own, will not share the gospel. Therefore, because God has caused me to want to share the gospel, He gets the glory, not me.

    What God is taking pleasure in, is not my autonomous, independent effort, but in His work through me. To me, that is a more God-centered view of evangelism than God standing by hoping I will somehow on my own share the good news of Christ.

    I hope that clarifies my point. Being Reformed, I think you will agree with this God-centered view.

    Les

  5. Les-

    I do agree with you, to a point however. Although I agree that no man voluntarily becomes godly, God must rather move in his heart to propel a man to serve him, I also believe that God derives pleasure from the obedience of His children.

    Your claim would seem to exclude the possibility that God would experience any pleasure from His children and their obedience. Although I’m pretty reformed, I can’t sympathize with that.

  6. Les-

    I’m a bit curious about something, even being reformed, do you not see any obligation on the part of mankind to respond to God’s command? I too agree that God must provoke a person to respond, but there certainly seems to be obligation on the part of mankind to also respond to God’s desires. God’s call and man’s response seem to both be necessary, in my view anyway.

  7. Micah,

    There is certainly a tension between the sovereignty of God and man’s responsibility. I think the best treatment of the topic is “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God,” by J. I. Packer.

    Thanks for the conversation.

    Les

  8. Wow, this got deep fast… 🙂

    Personally, I have never seen God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility as being in conflict… it’s never been an “either / or” to me, but always “both”.

    Maybe I’m off-base, but I’ve always felt human logic was inadequate to explain God’s working. There are so many Biblical concepts that seem to be in “tension”, I just can’t see it any other way.

  9. Wow. Y’all are really hitting the Reformed / Calvinistic stuff pretty hard. I think God values obedience very highly – even higher than “sacrifice”, and that we are all called to be obedient. Sure, we Modified Arminians (I just made that up, don’t go grabbing your books :)) have weak spots in our mess, too, but if Reformedism throws out our need to be obedient by saying that we have no choice, I gotta pretty majorly question that one.

    I think I’ll blog on Modified Arminianism. That sounds interesting…

    🙂

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