By In Scribblings

If the Great Commission isn’t about building the Kingdom then words have no meaning

Bottom line: let’s work for change where God calls us and gifts us, but let’s not forget that the Great Commission is go into the world and make disciples, not go into the world and build the kingdom.

The Great Commission:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Going, therefore, disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

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By In Politics, Theology

Kevin DeYoung Wants You to Know that Theonomy is Evil

KuyperProfileOn the plus side for the two-kingdom approach… A bulwark against theonomy and reconstructionism

via Two Kingdom Theology and Neo-Kuyperians | TGC.

Joel McDurmon is right about the context of that statement:

Interestingly, this is the only solid conclusion DeYoung comes to. The rest is cloudy and unsure, bifurcated and bipolar. He writes, “I don’t like the ‘third rail’ folks who are always positioning themselves as the sane alternative between two extremes, but I have to admit that there are elements of both approaches–two kingdom theology and neo-Kuyperianism–that seem biblical and elements that seem dangerous.”

So let me just summarize DeYoung’s actual communication. It isn’t about neo-Kuyperianism. It isn’t about two-kingdoms. It is against God’s law. He wants you to know that ministers in good standing (in complete opposition to the actual statements in the Westminster Confession, if anyone cares) will be permitted all sorts of intellectual hobbies to root around in one or the other viewpoints. But theonomists are outside the pale. In fact, opposing theonomy doesn’t require an exegetical reason (or, for that matter, any church court ruling). You as a reader need to be taught what you must do, how you must conform, to be acceptable to DeYoung and his cool friends.

Reject Theonomy! Not with an argument. Not with an ecclesiastical verdict. But with prejudice. All other viewpoints can be measured by their utility in rejecting theonomy.

There is nothing else to learn from DeYoung’s piece. It is one piece of dogmatism nestled in a pile of mush. Notice that, as there is no argument, the hope seems to be that the reader will, in the midst of all the other verbiage, simply swallow the dogma without evidence or argument.

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By In Scribblings

Mark Horne: Source of Benny Hinn’s Ancient Powers Revealed!

Benny Hinn purports to be an evangelist who does healings and miracles. Here is a sample of his mystic powers in action set to appropriate music and graphics.

Today I finally figured out that Benny Hinn is really a new kind of Martial Artist who has learned the ancient secrets from Asia:

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By In Theology, Wisdom

Witness-Bearing & Prosecuting God’s Case (Trusting God & Reasoning about Him)

paul mars hillBy Mark Horne

As Christians we all want to see non-Christians convert to faith in Christ by the grace of God. Even more, we probably want to be instrumental in such a conversion–for that would be a special blessing. But let’s be honest: we all hope that such an opportunity will be a peaceful encounter between us and someone who has never heard and/or understood the Gospel. We would like to see someone receive the Good News from us and immediately respond with joy, repenting and believing.

Well, it is fine for us to hope for a chance to share the Gospel without having to deal with conflict and confrontation, but that does not usually happen. No one has ever knocked on my door because an angel of heaven told him to come to my address and hear an important message from God. In real life people don’t often ask about the Gospel, and when they begin to get the gist of the message, they usually try to change the subject. The reason for this should be obvious; the good news of the Gospel is an offer of forgiveness–an offer which presupposes that all people are sinners against their Creator and deserving of His wrath.

Witnessing for Christ inevitably involves some level confrontation. While a Christian must do all he can to speak peacefully with unbelievers, trying to entirely evade the fact that there is a conflict involved will probably mute his message.

Defense & Offense

Confronted with the claims of the Gospel, people typically respond to our message by saying that it is not true or that it is an interesting hypothesis which MIGHT be true. It is at this second point that I personally am usually most tempted to compromise the claims of Christ. Perhaps you are too. Not wanting to give offense, we can easily be derailed from offering “a ready defense.” How does this happen?

In my experience, a person who is sharing the Gospel will almost invariably want to “prove” to the non-Christian that Christianity is true. “Let us reason together,” he might say to the unbeliever. “I don’t want you to accept the Gospel on ‘blind faith’.” And then he will go on to present arguments and evidences which he thinks, if his friend will consider them, will lead him to the conclusion that God exists.

While it is true that people should reason in order to believe the Gospel, and that our faith is not supposed to be blind, defending Christianity in this way involves a fatal compromise. It treats the person as if he is a “neutral” observer who has the right to evaluate the claims of Christ for himself and decide whether or not they are worthy of acceptance. This simply will not do. According to the Gospel, people are creatures who ought to submit to their Creator in ALL of their thinking, and are sinners who are ANYTHING but neutral regarding the true God.

A cursory study of Biblical terminology will reveal that “bearing witness” for Christ has judicial implications. We are bringing an accusation against the world. It is the creature and sinner who must be cleared before God’s judgment seat, not Jesus who stands awaiting the judgment of any mere man.

Without Excuse

But does this mean that the Christian faith is irrational–that it is to be believed without evidence? Far from it. All people everywhere are already confronted with evidence that God exists. They may say that they are unsure of God’s existence, but in fact they are surrounded by God’s personal testimony. God never “left himself without witness” to anybody (Acts 14.17). Each person without exception is especially confronted with the revelation of the true God in his own person. God

made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for

“In him we live and move and have our being”

as even some of your own poets have said,

“For we are indeed his offspring.”

Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. (Acts 17:26-29, ESV)

Every single fact in human experience undeniably shows forth the face of God. And all unbelievers without exception are suppressing this fact in this experience. They do this, not only by disbelieving the Bible, but by denying His general revelation (in nature and history) and coming up with rationalizations to justify themselves–rationalizations that we know as false philosophies and false religions—“the art and imagination of man.” Instead of admitting that God is personally present with them, they insist that reality is ultimately impersonal. The only “god” they will accept is a finite being in the same impersonal surroundings. Or else they insist that “God” is a word to cover over the ultimately impersonal nature of reality.

By arguing as if an unbeliever is legitimately ignorant of God, by treating him as a neutral seeker of truth, we can deny the real situation and undercut the Gospel. For, if a person can be legitimately ignorant of God, then he cannot be sinning against Him. The Gospel is unnecessary. A person has an excuse for unbelief. Indeed, we are implicitly agreeing that reality is not a personal revelation of God, but an impersonal environment.

But if God is self-evident, and if the Bible is recognizable as the voice of the true God, then the Gospel makes sense. The fact that seemingly sincere people deny that it is true also makes sense. The Bible explains that people practice self-deception. Sinners don’t ultimately need new evidence to be persuaded of God’s existence. That need may arise because, as part of the process of suppressing the truth, there is disinformation that has been from generation to generation. But ultimately, people need a new ethical orientation so that they will stop suppressing the evidence they have and “seek God.”

They need a new heart.

A More Excellent Way

Does all this mean we cannot argue with unbelievers in any constructive way? Not at all! It only means we have to argue in a way that does not compromise the Gospel. We must argue in a way that does not undermine the universally evident truth of God’s existence and the sinful disposition of people to deny the His personal revelation in nature and history and in Scripture. Much more could be written about the various more specific ways we are tempted into such compromise, and the various ways we can avoid it. For the moment, consider a brief general explanation of how we might defend the Faith without compromising.

I’ve already mentioned that, as witnesses for Christ, we are in a courtroom situation. We are pressing charges against sinners who need to seek clemency before it is too late. As everyone knows from watching fictional courtroom dramas or even real court cases, the primary objective of a defense lawyer is to present a plausible reinterpretation of the prosecution’s evidence. Sometimes this involves some key piece of new evidence, but usually both parties have an agreement at the outset about the evidence at hand for the case. One’s conclusion mainly hinges on how one interprets the mutually-acknowledged evidence. This non-Christian reinterpretation results in untrue “worldviews”–the false philosophies and religions I mentioned above.

As witnesses for our Lord, we must attempt to show unbelievers that their supporting false beliefs are insufficient and incoherent. An impersonal world, after all, is ultimately unknowable. By showing that only the Christian teaching of God, creation, and human destiny makes any sense at all, we will press home to the non-Christian that he is evading the God Who has surrounded him with testimony to His own existence.

Ambassadors of Peace

As we do this, it is important we never be unnecessarily combative. A person raised in an unbelieving environment is different from someone who walked away from knowledge of a Gospel. We do need to account for the fact that many people are not self-consciously aware of where they are going or why when they walk away from God in daily life. The fact that all people are sinning in how they evade knowledge of God does not mean they are all self-conscious enemies. Depending on who we are talking to, we can function as helpful counselors rather than debate gladiators.

While we need to not support ultimate neutrality when we make our intellectual case for Christianity, we also need to not treat people as self-conscious rebels. The deep mystery of self-deception is that one is somehow both the deceiver and the deceived. In many cases the “deceiver” has been helped by years of deceptions from an unbelieving culture. So nothing in what I am saying above is intended to justify a hostile style of witnessing as necessary to faithfully defending the Gospel.

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By In Scribblings

Mark Horne: Putting Boys In Jail

This story by my co-worker Phil Hodges has me shaking with rage.

We see people wringing their hands in the media (often to the point of absurdity) about violent video games. But then when some real boy is discovered who actually can survive and work in meatspace, they try to imprison him and basically destroy his life.

The modern state is pursuing the formation of a domesticated male. And they are willing to get brutal to get what they want.

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By In Theology

“Transformationalism” Is A Derogatory Term for The Great Commission

Abraham_KuyperBy Mark Horne

One of the ways that Dispensationalists pretend their position is not only right, but the standard for orthodoxy, is to give a novel name to traditional Christian theology. Rather than admit that the Church throughout the ages, outside of their own recent sect, has understood the Church as the new Israel, the label such a view “Replacement Theology.”

Within the Reformed Tradition, the attempt to import Dispensational ideas about the difference between law and gospel is using a similar tactic. People who believe, as Christians have always believed until recently, that Jesus is Lord of all of life, are being called “Transformationalists.”

The term isn’t as inherently misleading as “Replacement Theology,” but the content of the term is not the issue. The point is that novel innovators press their case by labeling the traditional view by a novel name. This implies the falsehood that those defending and transmitting the traditional view are some kind of new school of thought.

When Abraham Kuyper wrote that Jesus claims the entire cosmos, he wasn’t developing a new position against other Christian theologies. He was staking the traditional Christian position against the modern world. To the extent that Christians have consciously collaborated with modernity, or been duped into it, his words do challenge other Christians. But from the standpoint of historic Reformed theology–or historic Christianity of any kind, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox–Kuyper was simply appropriating the Christian heritage.

There is a lot of other confusion evident in the “anti-transformationalist” movement. But I want to leave that alone and move on to a more important point.

The reason why all Christians until the post-enlightenment secular experiment have been “transformationalists” is because Jesus was “patient 0” of the spreading plague. Anyone who believes the Bible is accurate cannot escape this. Here is the only proof needed:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Going therefore, disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

I change the ESB slightly to match the koine. “Go, therefore, and make disciples from all the nations,” has a couple of problems. One minor problem is that, having declared himself the new king of the universe, Jesus didn’t need to issue a command to his disciples to go anywhere. By declaring himself the new lord and master of the cosmos he had already commanded his hearer to acknowledge his rule and authority everywhere. So I prefer to keep the participle form, “going.” As I understand it, the implication is, “Since you will be going…”

A more important and definite problem, in my opinion, is that the typical English translation settles for the reader that Jesus intends for us to pick out converts from all the nations. [Note: a reader pointed out to me that “of all the nations” does not have to mean “from out of” and could easily be interpreted better. He’s right. It just usually isn’t interpreted better these days]

Obviously, winning over individuals is the process we must take. The fact that Jesus refers to baptism proves that must be the foundational method for carrying out the Great Commission. You baptize people, not abstractions or collectives. However, in the Greek, “disciple” is a verb. There is no “make” in Jesus’ words. And while “disciple” is the verb, “nations” is the object of action–“all nations.” The English translation completely re-orients the Great Commission in a modern direction. While this hasn’t hurt earlier readers who were willing to take seriously the rest of Scripture in context and learn from it, I think in our own day it is important to let readers know what Jesus really said.

So we are told to “disciple all the nations.” And how? By baptizing and teaching. Teaching what? “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Everything means our whole Bibles. Jesus said that “Scripture cannot be broken.” He condemned Pharisees for not keeping God’s law. Of course, I’m not saying that Jesus expected the Law to be kept in its Mosaic aspect. Noahic dietary freedoms are fine and blood rituals like circumcision and animal sacrifice are no longer to be practiced as they once were. But the whole Bible, properly interpreted, is our governing document. And by “our” I mean, all humans.

Every moment Iran or India or the United States spends disregarding the Bible as the king’s word to them, at any institutional or personal level, is a moment of treason. All peoples, tribes, nations are called to entrust themselves to the new king and be his subjects (not to mention that he actually wishes to make them his co-rulers).

This means, by the way, that if we preach a gospel that doesn’t communicate to the hearers that the universe now has, by virtue of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, a new public king–that we aren’t preaching the real gospel. We see this is the explicit content of the post-resurrection sermon ever preached:

“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:29-36, ESV)

The Great Commission, on its face, outlaws secularism and cultures based on any other god or lord than our Lord Jesus Christ. And it tells all Christians to say so.

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By In Scribblings

Mark Horne: In other words, anti-tea-party Leftists are fighting for the 1 percent just dropped what should be a bombshell:

Wall Street is clear about who’s to blame for the government shutdown and a looming debt default: tea party Republicans.

What’s less clear is what Wall Street can do about it.

The reality is that deep-pocketed financial services executives and their lobbyists have little leverage against tea party lawmakers who don’t much care for financiers or big banks and don’t rely heavily on the industry for campaign cash.

“Those are the ones who are most problematic for Boehner,” one D.C.-based lobbyist who represents financial services clients said of tea party lawmakers. “I don’t think there’s any way for Wall Street to punish the 25 to 50 hard core House Republicans. It’s not like [Reps. Steve] Stockman and Tim Huelskamp are doing a lot of Goldman Sachs events. I don’t think Justin Amash cares if Bank of America gives to him or not.

The rise of tea party lawmakers’ influence is a shift from years past when the Republican party was more business friendly and could be counted on by Wall Street to give great weight to its concerns.

For many members of Congress, wooing wealthy Wall Street donors and financial services PACs is a routine part of their reelection efforts and a source of frustration for industry critics who view this largesse as standing in the way of reforms. The reputation of the banking industry has taken a beating since the financial crisis, but it nevertheless remains a powerful lobbying force in Washington thanks in part to its generous political donations.

But the industry feels powerless when it comes to dealing with some members of the tea party, who are immune from one of Wall Street’s most potent tools: campaign donations.

“The extreme radicals are going to get reelected because they come from districts where they don’t need to raise that much money,” said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist of the Potomac Research Group. “This new tea party movement is not particularly pro-business. They certainly are not pro-Wall Street and pro-big banks. That is a new strain in the Republican party that worries many on Wall Street.

The heads of big banks — including Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — met with President Barack Obama on Wednesday to discuss the shutdown, debt ceiling and other issues. They are also expected to meet with some lawmakers as part of gatherings organized by the Financial Services Forum — a group that represents the heads of large banks and insurance companies.

So despite all the Occupy Wall Street propaganda and the exaltation of Elizabeth Warren and all the other anti-Wall-Street posers, it is all really an act. So-called Leftists are wetting their pants at the thought of a movement that might truly fight against the Wall-Street-Washington-DC industrial complex. They’re all a pack of hypocrites.

The real voice of the 99 percent is the tea party.

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