Read This 11.23.17

How (Not) to Stay Lukewarm

If you want to stay lukewarm then don’t compare yourself to God’s standard.

How Southern Baptists Trained More Disaster Relief Volunteers than the Red Cross

Way to knock this out of the park SBC!!

The Pragmatic Benefits of God-Given Sexual Boundaries

The culture has sold the idea for 50 years that consenting adults can do what they wish sexually without hurting anyone. It’s a lie.

The ‘Religious People’ Boogeyman

This was a refreshing thing to read.

6 Mistakes Leaders Make in Their First 90 Days

I don’t think I fell prey to any of these.

10 Heartaches of Being a Pastor

I’m sure every “job” and ministry has it’s unique heartaches, these are ones which often accompany mine.

Sexual Consent in a Confused, Confusing World

Tim is spot on here.

5 Negative Influence on Pastors Who Leave Pastoring

I’ve seen pastors struggle with all five of these. #1 and #4 would be the ones where I’m most vulnerable right now.

What happens when politics drives our faith?

How One of My Baptist Convictions Is Strengthened By a Presbyterian Principle

My son and I went to a community wide Thanksgiving service the other day. This began an interesting conversation about the difference between denominations. I tried as best as I could to explain to him all of the different distinctives which both unite us and separate us. Part of our discussion centered around why we’ve been given the name Baptists. This led to an interesting discussion about why I believe in credobaptism (believer’s baptism) and not paedobaptism (infant baptism).

While I hold a good many things in common with my Presbyterian brothers and sisters, I remain a Baptist by conviction. And one of the main reason why I remain a credobaptist actually comes from a principle I’ve learned from Presbyterians (or perhaps more accurately from the Reformation). That principle is the regulative principle.

This principle is defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith:

the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture. (21.1)

Put simply, the regulative principle teaches that everything we do when we gather for worship must be sanctioned by Scripture. This includes the way we administer the ordinances (like baptism and the Lord’s Supper). Westminster outlines this as well:

Prayers: The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: besides religious oaths and vows, solemn fasting, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner (21.4-5)

The regulative principle is a hallmark within Reformed churches. Many churches have slid towards the normative principle of worship—which allows anything not forbidden by Scripture. The regulative principle argues that unless Scripture tells us we should do something within our worship gathering we should not do that thing.

So where does this leave infant baptism?

I stumbled upon these words of Balthasar Hubmaier the other day. He was drowned in the Danube for his views on baptism, hopefully by agreeing with him I do not suffer a similar fate:

It is clear enough for him who has eyes to see it, but it is not expressed in so many words, literally: ‘do not baptize infants.’ May one baptize them? To that I answer: ‘if so I may baptize my dog or my donkey… I may make idols out of St. Paul and St. Peter, I may bring infants to the Lord’s Supper, bless palm branches, vegetables, salt, land and water, sell the Mass for an offering. For it is nowhere said in express words that we must not do these things. (The Anabaptist Story, 90)

Hubmaier is arguing from the regulative principle and the principle of sola Scriptura. This is why I am amazed that good Presbyterians like B.B. Warfield can say,

“It is true that there is no express command to baptize infants in the New Testament, no express record of the baptism of infants, and no passages so stringently implying it that we must infer from them that infants were baptized. If such warrant as this were necessary to justify the usage we should have to leave it incompletely justified. But the lack of this express warrant is something far short of forbidding the rite” (Quoted here)

Warfield goes on to argue that a sign of the covenant was instituted in the Old Testament and therefore must be expressly denied in the New Testament. That to me appears to be the crux of the argument—is baptism the continuation of the covenant of circumcision. Warfield then quotes Lightfoot: “It is not forbidden” in the New Testament to “baptize infants, — therefore, they are to be baptized.

I suppose my Presbyterian brothers and sisters will disagree, but I cannot find an explicit place in Scripture which shows that baptism replaces circumcision. Yes, there is a connection from Colossians 2:11-12, but again what we are doing here is arguing from a good and necessary inference. This is the language of John Murray who says, “Surely the inference is one of good and necessary consequence that infants should be given the sign and seal of that which, by the authority of Christ, they are to be accounted.” Friends, this is the argumentation and the very language of the normative principle and not the regulative principle.

It is not upon these grounds alone, but as one who holds to the regulative principle I simply cannot move from my Baptist conviction that baptism is meant for believers and not for infants who cannot yet believe.

Photo source: here

Read This! 11.21.17

The Men Who Make Tetzel Look Tame

I wish this was just an overreaction.

No, Christians Don’t Use Joseph and Mary to Explain Child Molesting Accusations

I have quite a bit I’d like to say about this, but I’ll save it for a later date. I appreciate Stetzer’s work here.

Watch a Jacobean Painting Emerge From 200 Years of Grime in Seconds

I’m nerding out on this one.

This Theologically Orphaned Generation

These are hard-hitting words by Jared Wilson but they ring true.

Netflix Thinks You’re Bored and Lonely

Trevin Wax shows why the truly connected life has nothing to do with internet access.

There is No “Just” in the Body of Christ

Amen!

10 Reasons Pastors Should Study the Bible in It’s Original Languages

Or ten ways to make Mike feel guilty for not keeping up on his languages.

Running from ‘the Black Dog’

And run we must.

Did Paul really write all his letters?

Why I’m Not a Fan of Red-Letter Bibles

“Which words hold more weight, the words of Jesus or Paul?”

That was my nail in the coffin argument. I, a relatively new believer, was arguing some finer point of theology and using my NIV Study Bible Red-Letter Edition to do it. The words in red, I argued, had to hold more weight than those which were only set in black. So if there was a seeming contradiction between Jesus and Paul then it had to be the words of Jesus which held more weight.

I’d pulled the Jesus card. This card trumps all others and when played you are certain to win the game. The only problem is that I was playing a rigged game, but I didn’t know this until a couple years later.

Are the words of Jesus from the mouth of God? According to John 12:49, Jesus doesn’t speak of his own accord or in his own authority. He speaks the words the Father has given to him. So, yes, the words of Jesus are from the mouth of God.

Are the scriptural words of Paul (or other biblical writers) from the mouth of God? According to 2 Timothy 3:16 “all Scripture is God-breathed”. So when it comes to the words of Scripture, yes, they proceed from the mouth of God.

What this means is that the words of Jesus and the words of Paul have a common source. In this regard every single word in your Bible ought to be in red. There isn’t a difference, in regards to authority, of the words spoken by Jesus and those scriptural words spoken by Paul. That is not to exalt Paul to the place of Deity. Nor is that to lower Jesus to the status of a mere man. Instead, it is to speak to the unity of God’s Word.

When red-letter editions of the Bible first came on the market in 1899 it was not meant to make a theological statement, as if Jesus’ words held more theological weight than other places of Scripture. Lous Klopsch, wanted to put the Bible into the hands of as many people as possible. And in doing this he wanted to find a way to highlight the main character; namely, Jesus Christ. This is Klopsch’ definition of his mission:

Modern Christianity is striving zealously to draw nearer to the great Founder of the Faith. Setting aside mere human doctrines and theories regarding Him, it presses close to the Divine Presence, to gather from His own lips the definition of His mission to the world and His own revelation of the Father. . . . The Red Letter Bible has been prepared and issued in the full conviction that it will meet the needs of the student, the worker, and the searchers after truth everywhere. (Source)

As history would have it, the red-letter edition gained prominence around the same time when theological debates took place centering around the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. As a result you have unwitting disciples make arguments similar to the one I made a couple decades ago. Essentially it causes us to pit the words of Jesus against other words of Jesus spoken through a mediator.

The danger of the red-letter Bible, when we pit Scripture against Scripture and have a highlighter under one of the texts, is that we do not read the Bible as we ought to be reading it. The words out of the lips of Jesus aren’t meant to be put on a scale opposite the words of His messengers. They are supposed to be on the same side of the scale against the twisted and serpentine words of rebellion.

And this is why I’m not a fan of red-letter Bibles. The original intention was good, but a hundred years of theological debate and moving away from it’s purpose has caused the highlighter to be used for the wrong purpose. As such, I believe red-letter editions are no longer helpful.

Photo source: here