Friday Sermon | “They Went Out from Us” with Dr James White

frisermonMusic has been the theme of this week, and will likely be the theme of 2016. For our first Friday Sermon of 2016, we’ll be going to the last episode of the Dividing Line with Dr James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries.

Dr. James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books, a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

They Went Out from Us: Jahaziel’s Excuses for Abandoning the Faith

 

What Dr James White is responding to:

Jahaziel’s Announcement via Christianity Today

Here are some screenshots from Jahaziel’s Facebook page.

jahaziel's announcementjahaziel's announcement 2 jahaziel's announcement 3

 

 

 

Conclusion

The self-proclaimed “music ministry” is in trouble. It isn’t producing mature Christians. It’s time to return to Sound Doctrine.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present youblameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Church History | Missional Church Movement

churchhistoryWhat does it mean when a church declares itself a “Missional Church”? This is a fairly recent movement found mostly within Reformed and Baptist circles, though it is embraced by many non-denominational churches. It is a movement that seeks to redefine or re-envision the Church and its mission.  Today, I’d like to take address the topic of the “Missional Church Movement”. This is the result of my personal research on the topic, because I just needed to know what this whole thing was about. I have done my best to cite sources friendly to the movement and provide links to those sources for your own reading. Your feedback is most appreciated on this one, it’s a little bit outside of my wheelhouse.

Recent History of Missional Church Movement

Let’s begin with an excerpt from an article from GotQuestions.org that is supportive of the Missional Church Movement.

“Missional” or “missional living” is a Christian term that in essence describes a missionary lifestyle. Being missional includes embracing the posture, the thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to reach others with the message of the gospel. The term “missional” gained its popularity towards the end of the 20th century with the influence of Tim Keller, Alan Hirsch, and others, as well as the Gospel and Our Culture Network. Their basic premise is that all Christians should be involved in the Great Commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).

Essentially, the idea of being missional teaches that the church has a mission because Jesus had a mission. There is one mission which says that the “missional church is a community of God’s people that defines itself, and organizes its life around, its real purpose of being an agent of God’s mission to the world. In other words, the church’s true and authentic organizing principle is mission. When the church is in mission, it is the true church.” Yet there has been some confusion regarding the term “missional.”

Alan Hirsch, one its proponents, says that “missional” is not synonymous with “emerging.” The emerging church is primarily a renewal movement attempting to contextualize Christianity for a postmodern generation. “Missional” is also not the same as “evangelistic” or “seeker-sensitive.” These terms generally apply to what he calls the “attractional” model of church that has dominated our understanding for many years. Missional is not a new way to talk about church growth. Although God clearly desires the church to grow numerically, it is only one part of the larger missional agenda. Finally, missional is more than social justice. Engaging the poor and correcting inequalities is part of being God’s agent in the world, but should not be confused with the whole.

Hirsch also says that a proper understanding of missional living begins with recovering a missionary understanding of God. By His very nature God is a “sending God” who takes the initiative to redeem His creation. This doctrine, known as missio Dei is causing many to redefine their understanding of the church. Because the church is comprised of the “sent” people of God, the church is the instrument of God’s mission in the world. However, most people believe that missions is an instrument of the church, a means by which the church is grown. Although Christians frequently say, “The church has a mission,” according to missional theology a more correct statement would be “the mission has a church.”

Though many churches have mission statements or talk about the importance of having a mission, where missional churches differ is in their attitude toward the world. A missional church sees the mission as both its originating impulse and its organizing principle. It is patterned after what God has done in Jesus Christ, that is, to be missional means to be sent into the world; not to expect people to come to us. This idea differentiates a missional church from an “attractional” church.

The attractional church seeks to reach out to the culture and draw people into the church. But this practice only works where no significant cultural shift is required when moving from outside to inside the church. And as Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, the attractional church has lost its effectiveness. The West looks more like a cross-cultural missionary context in which attractional churches are self-defeating. The process of extracting people from the culture and assimilating them into the church diminishes their ability to speak to those outside. As a result, people cease to be missional and instead leave that work to the clergy.

Missional represents a significant shift in the way one thinks about the church. Being missional means we should engage the world the same way Jesus did—by going out rather than just reaching out. Missional means that when a church is in mission, it is then the true church. [Continue Reading…]

A couple of thoughts that jump out at me when reading through this article. First, it seems to be a very current write-up focused on distinguishing “Missional” from “emergent” and “seeker-sensitive”. It also highlights the “attractional” model of implementing church activities and campaigns designed to make the church attractive to potential church-goers. I think is important for any modern-day church movement to recognize the blatant errors of the seeker-mergent movements and to properly distinguish themselves from those movements. However, defining a movement by how it isn’t one of the bad movements, falls short for me. The biggest problem with this article is that it seems to define a man-made term “Missional” like a slogan or a vision statement for an organization. That’s fine for a parachurch organization or even a church small group or group activity, but if we are talking about defining the Church, the argument needs to be exegeted from Scripture.

Older History of the Missional Church Movement

The document formed by Tim Keller, Alan Hirsch, et al, was not created out of nothing. They gave the movement a name, but much of the theological and ecclesial groundwork for their Missional Church is grounded in the 1950s inspired largely by the work of Leslie Newbigin. To get a better handle on the history of what would become the Missional Church Movement, I recommend reading Historical Perspectives on the Missional Church Movement: Probing Lesslie Newbigin’s Formative Influence  by Michael W. Goheen (pdf). It is a lengthy document, but well worth reading if you are in a Reformed Church who defines itself as Missional. It does a good job of describing the differing paradigms of “emergent” (Johannes Hoekendijk) vice “missional” (Leslie Newbigin).

There are two important years in the development of a missional ecclesiology that provide a structure for our reflection – 1952 and 1998. 1952 was the year of the Willingen meeting of the International Missionary Council (IMC). It was then that the theological framework (although not the term) of the missio Dei was clearly articulated. An important part of this formulation was the recognition that mission was central to the church’s being. The church’s identity was to be found in the role it played in God’s mission. The next stage, theologically speaking, should have been to articulate what this missional identity looks like in the ecclesial structures of the local congregation, ecumenical church, and cross-cultural missions. Unfortunately, this next stage was blown off course by the powerful secular winds of the 1960s that can be associated, within the church itself, with the name Johannes Hoekendijk.

[Leslie Newbigin] authored the Willingen statement; he was a significant voice in opposition to the Hoekendijkian vision of the church and mission; he was the inspiration behind the 1998 publication of Missional Church; and he remains the recognized father and, for many, the tacit authority in much missional and emergent church literature. A fruitful question might be to ask how faithful the missional church conversation has been to Newbigin’s original vision.

The final statement adopted by the Willingen assembly was primarily the work of Newbigin.  It was entitled “The Missionary Calling of the Church.” It begins: “The missionary movement of which we are a part has its source in the Triune God Himself.” The most important legacy of Willingen is the concept of God’s mission found in this statement. This provided a framework for gathering and relating many theological and missiological insights that had developed over the first half of the 20th century into a consistent missional ecclesiology. Mission has its source in the love of the Father who sent His Son to reconcile all things to himself. The Son has sent the Spirit to gather his church together and empower it for mission. This church is sent by Jesus to continue his mission and this defines its very nature: “There is no participation in Christ without participation in his mission to the world. That by which the Church receives its existence is that by which it is also given its world-mission. ‘As the Father has sent Me, so send I you.’”

Hoekendijk and others believed that the reigning ecumenical view of mission was too Christocentric and needed to be Trinitarian, and was too church-centric and needed to find its center in the world instead. The contrast can be made in this way: the traditional paradigm of mission that developed from Tambaram to Willingen found its primary focus in the ecclesial community that had its origin in the work of Jesus Christ and continued his mission in the world; the new paradigm featured a shift in missional focus from God’s work through Christ in the church to His providential and salvific work by His Spirit in the world. The traditional paradigm is Christocentric and ecclesiocentric; the new paradigm is pneumocentric and cosmocentric.
[Read the full document here]

Okay, so I’ve tried to include snippets of the document that summarize the split between emergent and missional thinking. The article presents the Missional Church Movement as one that started in 1952 but was hijacked by what we know see as emergent theology of the secular waves of the 60s. The article then catches up with the book written by Tim Keller, Alan Hirsch, et al in 1998, citing that moment as an attempt to reach back to the Newbigin’s foundational work. Despite the author’s detailed efforts to distinguish between the good of Newbigin’s theology from the hijacking of his work, in the end we have “Missional” appearing in churches that are indeed seeker-mergent.

Concerns with the Movement

The glaring issue I have with this movement is its attempt to define the mission of the Church by trimming back what it is now or what it has become and reshaping it by examining our modern context. While it seems Newbigin’s writing was grounded in Scripture, there seems to be little work currently being done to ground it in the New Testament prescriptives of what the Body of Christ, the Church, is to be about. If the movement were truly confined to Reformed churches, one might consider the theological underpinnings to be covered in by their Confessions. However, the emergent church is clearly outside of Reformed theology, thus in order to rightly define the Missional Church Movement it needs to be rightly exegeted from scripture outright.

Michael Horton wrote a thoughtful and engaging critique of the Missional Movement in an article for Modern Reformation Magazine. In his article, his primary concern is with the practical implications of a Church that defines itself by what it does in the world, and how such a redefinition might lean heavily toward monasticism.

Some of us remember the Tears for Fears song, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Yet the mantra today is more about changing the world than ruling it. Lots of younger Christians are tired of spiritual consumerism and evangelism pitches about inviting Jesus into your heart so you can go to heaven when you die. There has to be more to Christianity than “soul-saving.” Isn’t there something in there about “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting”? About a new creation? Don’t we sing “Joy to the World,” anticipating the blessings of Christ’s kingdom extending “far as the curse is found”?

Nevertheless, a legitimate question can be raised as to whether this newfound interest in creation redeemed is still guided by a paradigm that owes more to monasticism than to the world-affirming piety of the Reformation. [Continue Reading]

Conclusion

Personally, I’m tired of “evangelical movements”. Growing up under NAR thinking, I’ve had my fill of being tossed about by every wind of doctrine… jabez prayer, spiritual warfare, purpose drivenness, triumphalism, dominionism, radical christianity, promise keepers, etc. I’m not the least bit interested in creating a new word for Church, or some marketing campaign for why people should join my church as opposed to their church… none of that. I don’t care what you call your church. What I do care about is what is preached from the pulpit, what is studied in your home groups, and what whether your congregation behaves as one body of believers. For me, the word “Missional” has become as unreliable as “Evangelical”.

Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV) | Unity in the Body of Christ

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith,one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

He’s Moving, Cast Another Stone!

I had planned another DiM post for today… it will have to wait for Tuesday. Today, we’ll be commenting on some current events, church discipline, and public stoning in the social-media square.

If you follow me on twitter, you probably saw that I was working through old Friday Sermon posts trying to salvage those whose links pointed to LIBERATE.org, which has been closed indefinitely. It was very tough for me, and I was only able to salvage one post by finding the lecture and .pdf hosted on different sites. I’m ever so thankful that we still have access to that lecture by Rod Rosbenbladt, (Church History | The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church). Sadly, the same could not be said of Tullian Tchvidjian’s lecture entitled “It is Not Finished” that he gave at this year’s LIBERATE 2015 “It is Finished”. That lecture in particular was a great blessing to my wife and me. I’ve never met Tullian, I only know of him through his sermons, lectures, and that he’s considered a friend by Pastor Chris Rosebrough.

Background Information

We have to begin here. Let me defer to public information.
From the information put out by Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church:

In June 2015, after an admission of moral failure which disqualified him from active service, Tullian resigned from his position as our senior pastor and the founding director of LIBERATE. Given his leading role in this ministry, it was with heavy hearts that our Church Leadership decided to close LIBERATE indefinitely. This included canceling our 2016 Conference and refunding all registration fees.

To help protect Tullian, his family, and the integrity of his message, we have moved his sermons into a secure archive for the foreseeable future. Sadly, his messages were being slanderously misused in the media and on the Internet. We are prayerfully considering when and how his sermon archive might be made available again to the general public. We appreciate your patience and prayers during this season.

Some additional information from the associated Presbytery was published by the folks at the Aquila Report:

The South Florida Presbytery (SFP) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) voted at its meeting on August 11, 2015 to depose Tullian Tchividjian from the ministry. The PCA Book of Church Order (BCO) says that, “Deposition is the degradation of an officer from his office.” That is, the minister has his ordination credentials removed so that he no longer can perform the duties of a minister of the Gospel.

The Presbytery issued the following statement:

The South Florida Presbytery met for its regular stated meeting on August 11, 2015 and acted on a case concerning TE Tullian Tchvidjian. While Pastor Tullian Tchividjian was deposed of his pastoral credentials, the South Florida Presbytery is committed to continuing to offer him pastoral care. Our goal in doing this is to both protect the integrity of the Church from which his credentials were given while, at the same time, wrapping Tullian in the grace offered by Jesus Christ to all those who confess sin, pursue repentance and desire restoration.

Tchvidjian resigned as pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on June 21, confessing to an extra-marital relationship. The Coral Ridge congregation voted on June 28 to formally accept Tchvidjian’s resignation. He had served as pastor of Coral Ridge since being called there in 2009.

The PCA’s Book of Church Order has a section on restoration from various church censures, including deposition. The steps for restoration are clearly outlined including this statement, “In the restoration of a minister who has been deposed, it is the duty of the Presbytery to proceed with great caution.”

This is church discipline, folks. Tullian confessed, resigned from his position at his local church, and then was deposed of his pastoral credentials by the South Florida Presbytery. By all accounts, Tullian has repented of the sin of adultery. It is now time to follow Paul’s instructions to the Galatians.

Galatians 6:1-10 (ESV) | Bear One Another’s Burdens

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

He Filed for Divorce… Cast Another stone!

We have learned that Tullian filed for divorce, a point that many have tried to use against him. I wanted to share a post by Paul Tripp, but that source page is now unavailable. All that remains is the Christian Post article that references Paul Tripp’s now-missing announcement.

In a statement posted to his website Wednesday, Tripp bemoaned the public spectacle Tchividjian’s marriage had become before explaining how they arrived at the painful decision.

“I wish we lived in a world where pastoral counsel and heart, life and ministry restoration could take place in private, but those days are regretfully long gone. So, in light of the news getting out that Tullian Tchividijian has filed for divorce and to mitigate any unnecessary and unhealthy speculation regarding the details of the situation, as Tullian’s friend and counselor, I have decided to post this statement,” Tripp began in the statement.

“Sadly, there are times in this broken world where things that have been damaged by sin don’t get put together again. So, we groan, reminded that sin still lives inside us, that we live in a shattered world and that God’s work of redemption is not yet complete. So, it has been with sadness that I, along with others, have come slowly and cautiously to the conclusion that his marriage is irreparably broken,” he continued.

Tripp explained that Tchividjian, who resigned as lead pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida in June, after confessing to an “inappropriate” relationship with another woman who was not his wife after finding out that she had also been cheating on him, tried hard to save the marriage but the trust in his marriage could not be re-established.

“From the point of Tullian’s confession and repentance, he has been committed to dealing with the issues of his heart and to restoring his marriage. Much grace, counsel, thought, prayer and action has been invested over a six month period of time with the hope of healing the marriage. But sadly, there are times when the trust is so deeply broken and patterns so set in place that it seems best to recognize that brokenness, cry out for God’s grace, mourn, commit to forgiveness, rest in the truths of the Gospel and with a grieved heart, move on,” he wrote.

He added: “I remain committed to Tullian as a brother and counselor and I will continue to give him the Gospel as he now deals with what we together hoped and prayed would not happen.”

Tchividjian and his wife, Kim, married in 1994 and have three children together.


While trying to find someone or something outside of me to blame for my sin seemed to promise freedom, it only delivered deeper slavery.

— Tullian Tchividjian (@PastorTullian) August 21, 2015


On the day he filed for divorce last Thursday, Tchividjian noted on Twitter: “While trying to find someone or something outside of me to blame for my sin seemed to promise freedom, it only delivered deeper slavery.”

In another tweet on Monday, however, he noted in another tweet that he still felt God’s presence.


Sometimes God reminds you that he’s there when you’re looking out an airplane window and begging him to show himself: pic.twitter.com/HrngrZ1znM

— Tullian Tchividjian (@PastorTullian) August 25, 2015


Frankly, I’m very disappointed in reading many of the comments that flooded social media criticizing him of being too quick to abandon the marriage. I, for one, refuse to levy a judgement over what I do not know first-hand… but what we do know is that the struggles in his marriage have been ongoing for some time now. Tullian’s marriage covenant was with his wife and it was before God. I don’t get a say in the matter, neither for nor against. I mourn the devastation this divorce will wreck on all involved, and I pray for the Grace, Mercy, and Healing that only God the Holy Spirit can provide.

Please remember from our discussion in yesterday’s Gospel Wednesday post, I do hold a permanence view of marriage under the Law. There is no Lawful scenario for divorce… divorce is always a sin. Having said that, the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross is the sole remedy for sin, and is sufficient for all sin, including the sin of divorce. Indeed, the Gospel still brings life to believers caught in a transgression.

He Has a Job in a Church… Cast Another Stone!

I am exceedingly grateful for online discernment ministers, as I am for the local police force. The job is difficult, draining, and can become quite consuming. In the same way that Police officers need to guard themselves against treating every citizen as a criminal, I think it is important for us to guard ourselves against treating everyone as a wolf, and every story a proof of apostasy. Such is the case with the revelation that Tullian Tchvidjian was offered a staff position at his new church, Willow Creek Presbyterian Church (Our Ministry Staff). Let’s work through what we see on the church website and practice some basic discernment, shall we?

Is this a Pastoral Position?

No, it isn’t. This church’s website has separate staff directories, Senior Pastor, Pastoral Staff, and Ministry Staff. Now there is room here to question the church polity in play here, particularly if you are not Presbyterian and are unfamiliar with their system (I’m still trying to figure it out), but that is a question for Willow Creek Presbyterian Church (WCPC) and even the South Florida Presbytery (SFP) of the Presbyterian Church Association (PCS)… but this does not fall on Tullian. For those who claim to demand justice for the sake of the Gospel, you’d do well to address the leadership of the WCPC rather than cast another stone at Tullian. I think at this point it is helpful to remember the biblical qualifications for Elders as laid out in Titus 1:5-9.

Titus 1:5-9 (ESV) | Qualifications for Elders

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 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. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 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.

Whatever the WCPC does under the SFP of the PCA does regarding Tullian, I have to resign myself to trust that they will keep themselves accountable to the Scriptures.

Is this a special position carved out for Tullian?

Possibly. On the Ministry Staff page we see the following positions:

  • Bookkeeper
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Facilities Manager (male)
  • Facilities Maintenance (male)
  • Youth Ministries Director
  • Youth Ministry Assistant x2
  • Director of Guest Care
  • Director of Music (male)
  • Director of Preschool
  • Director of Nurseries
  • Director of Children’s Ministry (male)
  • Director of Ministry Development (Tullian’s Job)

Look at the list of staff positions… and look at the ones labelled “director”. I’ve seen folks in social media blast this as clear breach of the qualifications of a Deacon, since there are only 2 offices in the New Testament, Elder and Deacon (1 Tim 3). If these positions are deacon positions… only 5 are currently held by men. Only half of the “directors” are men. Think that one through. These are not deacon positions. I don’t know how the PCA squares their definitions of “staff” with the Biblical Offices, but as I said earlier, that is a discussion to take up with them, not with Tullian for accepting a staff position.

What Will Satisfy Your Need for Justice?

I confess that I am exposed to a lot more Reformed Baptist writing than anything Presbyterian. So the vast majority of the stone-casting I’m witnessing comes from the non-Presbyterian Reformed camp. My biggest question to the social media fervor is, “what will satisfy your need for justice?” What penance must Tullian pay for you to be satisfied? Is it your place to seek satisfaction? Or does that fall to his overseers, those who have been given the charge of shepherding the flock under their stewardship?

In Romans 14, we see Paul addressing some specific schisms going on in the church of that day, but Paul’s prescriptions for those problems ring out in a broader sense. Particularly in the following verse:

Romans 14:4 (ESV) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

and in the next prescription:

Romans 14:7-12 (ESV) 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

This is not to say that we are not to identify sin, we must. We must preach Law and Gospel faithfully. So then, is it a sin for Tullian to work? Is it a sin for the WCPC to give him a staff position? If you cannot clearly identify the sin, then you are in no place to pass judgement on the servant of another. Should sin arise, I trust it will be addressed in accordance with Matthew 18:15-20, and that chain of escalation will be within WCPC or at the very least the PCA.

Conclusion

Put down your stones. I am deeply concerned for Tullian Tchvidjian and want to see him restored. I worry that the publicity is hurting that process. I’m worried about him remaining faithful throughout the divorce proceedings. I worry about his children, his estranged wife, and I’m worried about the woman with whom he sinned. All of this is deeply troubling… but I’m appalled by what I’m seeing in social media regarding this man. Skepticism is natural, but let’s not walk in the flesh. Let us walk in the Spirit by faith and extend grace and forgiveness and honor the authorities put in place by God.

Matthew 18:29-35 (ESV) 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

2 Corinthians 13:11-14 (ESV) | Final Greetings

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

PS: There are already some wonderful examples of grace, humility, and clarity in the blogosphere.

The Taste of Crow

► Clarity on the TT Situation

Friday Sermon | Key Life Pastors’ Chat on Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins

Our sermon today is not a sermon. I reviewed 5 sermons this week that were good, but didn’t seem to hit the notes I felt were most important for this week. Yesterday’s DiM post was a discerning look at the role of music and Worship in the Church, from pastors who come from various reformed traditions. I attend a reformed Baptist church now, but I wanted to find something that could present a bit of a juxtaposition of Lutheran and Reformed theology. I believe this discussion does a good job of that.

We’ve listened to lectures from this year’s Liberate conference, and today we’ll be looking at a discussion between a respected Reformed Pastor Steve Brown and Lutheran Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. They had not met previously, but knew of each other by common friends and associates. Here, we have a wonderful opportunity to see the subject of Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins, the Gospel of Grace, discussed from both the Reformed and Lutheran perspectives. There are difference, yes, but there is also common ground that is worth highlighting, that being the Gospel of Grace.

Key Life Pastors’ Chat on Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins

[youtube https://youtu.be/5VkNNeMgZcY]

*note: At one point in this discussion (16:15), Steve Brown reflects on his encounter with Nadia Bolz-Weber, an ELCA Lutheran pastrix. While I do appreciate Steve Brown’s intention of using this anecdote to highlight the diversity of believers and the power of Grace, I don’t want anyone to come away from this thinking she is doctrinally sound or that she rightfully holds a position of pastor. She is not, and does not, and I pray she repents. She is still loved and cared for by many in the LIBERATE community. She is to the Lutheran community what Rob Bell was to the Southern Baptists, deconstructing Doctrine and minimizing sin ala the Emergent/Liberal Church.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Church History | The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

churchWe have family visiting us today through this weekend. I have fallen behind in blog post drafts, so today’s post will be a link to a powerful lecture given by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt at Faith Lutheran Church in Capistrano Beach, CA on November 7, 2010 entitled, “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church“.

Dr. Rod Rosenbladt is professor of theology and apologetics at Concordia University (Irvine, California) and co-host of The White Horse Inn radio broadcast. He is a Lutheran Pastor. In this lecture, he will give some Church history for both Lutheran and Reformed traditions as well as address the Wesleyan, Armenian, and Nazarene. The focus of this lecture is on the need for Christians to be focused on, defined by, and preaching fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ for Christians, too. Looking beyond the differing Denominational frameworks to the Cross of Jesus Christ. This is an essential lecture for all Christians, regardless of denomination. Please do not simply forward this video to those you know have been hurt by the Church, without first digesting it, reviewing it, and understanding what is being presented so that you can reach out in love to the individual with whom you wanted to share.

I’d like to offer up some brief portions of the transcript to further encourage you to watch/read the whole thing:

The “sad” alumni

By the sad alumni of the Christian faith, I mean the hundreds and hundreds whose acquaintance with the Christian church was often one in which they were helped to move from unbelief (or from a suffocating moralism) into real saving faith in Jesus Christ. They heard the preaching of God’s law and then heard the announcement of Christ’s work on their behalf on the cross—Jesus as the God-man who met the law’s demands for them, and died for their sin, died to save them, died to give them eternal life. They heard the wonderful message of God’s grace in the cross and death of Jesus Christ. They heard the astonishing news that God in Jesus Christ died for them, died so that they can be—and are!—freely forgiven based solely on that atoning death. They heard that Christ’s blood redeems sinners, buys us out of our self-chosen enslavement. They came to believe that Christianity is not so much about what is in our hearts as much as it is about what is in God’s heart—and this proven by Christ’s vicarious and atoning death for them, for their sin. They came to believe that the cross of Christ was their salvation. For free. And forever.

But something happened after that, something that broke them. And, in general, I think what happened is nameable. (At least in many cases.)…(Read More)

The “mad” alumni

It is not all that uncommon. I find that these angry ones have usually not switched from Christianity to another religion. Nor have I found that they have switched from one Christian denomination to another. Instead, I find that they are angry at any and all religions and anyone who represents any religious position—but especially Christianity. And that is natural. After all, it was Christianity, as they see it, that “used them up and threw them away.” I suppose the most visible examples would be men like the late comedian Sam Kinison and ex-Roman Catholic George Carlin. You may (and probably do) know better contemporary examples than I know. All of us are in the vicinity of people like this at one time or another, maybe know a few of them as friends, or have at least met one or two in passing. Why do I say that? Because such people are, as I said, not all that uncommon these days.

Now I certainly can’t this evening exhaust the dynamic involved in such people (again, I’m no clinical psychologist). But I still think a lot of the mad alumni also often have a nameable history, just as the sad alumni have one.

People like this often speak as if Christianity baited and switched them—just like a used car salesman “baits and switches” a young couple at a car lot.

Christians promised them a new life in Christ in such a way that it was going to be a life of victory, God’s designed route to earthly happiness, a new, divine power that would solve the problems so obsessing them. Then, when the promises didn’t seem to work the way they were supposed to, the church put it back on these believers that they were somehow not doing it right… (Read More)

Be blessed today, and come back tomorrow for another Friday Sermon here at FaithfulStewardship.

In Christ Jesus,
jorge