Our Reply to Sundry Critics and Enquirers

In his day Charles Spurgeon, the great Prince of Preachers, began to identify what has come to be known as The Downgrade.  This was a reference to the gradual loss of sound doctrine and personal holiness among the churchmen that had begun with the Act of Uniformity of 1662.  This move by King Charles II and his court effectively put an end to Puritanism in the Church in England and Wales. In March of 1887 Spurgeon published an anonymous article written by a close friend. This reply is to the many who had both supported and criticized him for publishing the article, and the subsequent articles written concerning it.  I thought it was an interesting read.  Enjoy!     Our Reply to Sundry Critics and Enquirers.

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The Christian Atheist

Christian Atheism - Happiness in a bad world

Image by David Maddison via Flickr

A “church” in my hometown is advertising this as their current sermon series.  When I saw the sign I was reminded very clearly that the Postmodern mindset has all but taken over the majority of the institutional church just as it has our overall society.  I have no idea the thought process behind the series or whether they actually believe that such a creature exists.  What I believe is that in their attempt to be “relevant” they’ve been “conformed to this world” system.

Interestingly the same day that I saw that sign I also read that Campus Crusade for Christ is dropping both the “Crusade” and “Christ” from their name.  Now they are just Cru (?!).  Nonsense, but cool, hip (borrowed from the 60’s) and most importantly, relevant (somehow).  It is my intention to address these two subjects in this post.

As far as the “Christian atheist” is concerned.  I realize that in a Postmodern world a word means, as Humpty-Dumpty said, “Just what I choose it to mean – neither more or less.”  However, communication is dependent upon words.  Sentences are built with words.  Paragraphs are formed by sentences, and conversations occur in the realm of sentences and paragraphs.  If words mean what each individual or group decides they mean, then anyone beyond the individual or those included in the group are helpless to know what the individual/group is attempting to say.  At that point, communication is impossible.  When a church begins to buy in to the Postmodern usage of words then the ability to communicate the message of Scripture is forfeit.  And if the Church forfeits the ability to fulfill its only legitimate task – making disciples for those of you who are wondering or wandering – it is like the salt that Jesus spoke of, it is useless and needs to be cast out.

Can there be a “Christian atheist”?  If you have to ask the question then you don’t have a rudimentary understanding of Scripture.  “And without faith it is impossible to please (God), for he who comes to (“to turn to,” “seek association with, agree with”) God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).  The atheist by definition is one who “says in his heart, ‘there is no God'” (Ps. 14:1).  This same verse identifies the one who makes that statement as a fool.  Make of that what you wish, but I think that it is saying that the one who says there is no God is only going against what he really knows to be true (read Romans 1).  If one wishes to be faithful to biblical teaching then we must conclude that there is no such thing as a real atheist.  The Holy Spirit stated, with Paul as the human instrument of the message, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident (“clear, plainly to be seen”) to them” (Rom. 1:18-19).  Therefore the first portion of the question is answered.  According to God there is no such thing as an atheist.

If one says that he is a Christian but doesn’t believe in God he is also revealing his Christology – his beliefs about Jesus Christ.  If there is no God, then Jesus Christ is not God.   If Jesus is not God because there is no God, then Jesus was neither a good man nor a good teacher, but a liar, deceiver, and false teacher.  He told Philip that, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).  If the Father does not exist then Jesus lied to His disciples and is not worthy of their, or our, devotion and the foundation for what we call Christianity crumbles.  Therefore, if there is no God then Jesus THE Christ is no Christ (the One anointed and sent by God) and logically there is no foundation for Christianity.  Thus there are no Christians other than there being a false belief system and those of us who follow it.  BTW – If Jesus Christ is not God His death was just another mortal death and has no more significant value than any other human, we are all still dead in our sins.

A church that dabbles with the idea of a Christian atheist does not make itself or its message relevant (I’m so sick of that concept).  Instead it perpetuates the lostness and darkness that covers this world and makes the Church’s message irrelevant.  If the church that advertised this as a sermon series adequately answers the question of whether there exists a Christian atheist, then maybe I can overlook the usage of the term.  But not without choking it down.  There are better ways to address the idea of God’s existence and man’s beliefs and needs.

Now, back to the story of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ).  Part of the explanation the leaders of Cru offered was that most churches and religious organizations don’t have the word Christ in their names.  I think that might be a straw man argument or some other logical fallacy. Churches by their very nature carry the name Christ implicitly without it being part of the title.  Other organizations that don’t have Christ in their names haven’t removed it in order not to offend or to become more widely accepted.

But the name Cru?  First of all I fail to understand why that has been the organizations nickname for years, but I’m on the outside looking in.  Secondly, to adopt a name that admittedly has no meaning or definition makes even less sense.  However, the Postmodern/Humpty Dumpty mindset has taken hold as can be seen in what one of the defenders of the move has said: “It is a name we intend to give meaning so that when people hear it they know that it’s a caring group of Christians who are passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus” (emphasis added).  The same mindset can be seen in a statement on their website.  After removing the name Christ from their title the website states:“We were not trying to eliminate the word Christ from our name.”  True.  You’re no longer trying to; you’ve already removed it.  One has to wonder if they read that before they posted it.  (Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/07/21/campus-ministry-drops-christ-from-name/#ixzz1SrUMV0vp)

My argument is not against them changing their name.  That is their decision to make.  But at least choose a name with meaning that clearly identifies who you are and what your mission is.  To say that they aren’t bending to political correctness at least looks disingenuous.

These two incidents reveal just how far Christianity and Christian thought has strayed from its biblical moorings.  As always, Scripture offers a clear warning. Hebrews 2:1 states, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”  Sadly, we have and are drifting from “the standard of sound words which (we) have heard (through Paul)” (2 Tim. 1:13).  God help us!

Stand firm.

IO 80: Out of Left Field, a Perfect Storm

Dr. Peter Jones offers a cogent examination of the politics of sexual identity and the current climate within what must be broadly labeled as Evangelicalism.

IO 80: Out of Left Field, a Perfect Storm.

Salvation: Free and Everlasting

In this post I want to share an interesting insight that I gained in preparation for teaching the book of Hebrews. Since the question as to whether salvation is something permanent or something that can be lost is always a major topic it is something that I always address when I come across a passage that has a point to make concerning it.  In my opinion one such passage is Hebrews 1:3, in particular when the writer states, “and (Christ) upholds all things by the word of His power.”

What we must first address is the fact that this phrase is preceded by the statement that He is the one “through whom also He (God the Father) made the world” (v.2).  In this verse is seen the fact that Christ is the one through whom God created (Greek poieo – to produce a product) the ages of time (Greek aionas – ages, translated as world in some cases).  The emphasis being that not only did He create the universe and space, but the broader idea includes those plus all of time, i.e., time itself and the periods of history from beginning to end.  As part of that creation, or better said, that creative act is part of His divine plan and Christ is the one through whom the plan of God has been enacted.  

In addition to creating all things now we see that He also upholds all things.  The Greek word can be mean that He is the sustainer of all things, or that He maintains all things.   The word introduces the idea that all that He has created (time, space, history, the material universe, etc.) is being held together by Him.  Paul addressed this in Colossians 1:17b, “and in Him all things hold together.”  Can anyone say “Laminin”?  However, it goes even beyond just holding all creation together, as if that weren’t enough.  Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost points out that the word “has in it the idea of carrying something along to a designated end” (Faith That Endures, 48).  Simply stated, God’s divine plan has been created by Christ and is being carried to completion by Christ.

That being the case there are major implications for those who believe.  First, God’s Divine Plan will be carried out to the fullest degree just as He designed for it to be.  This is true within itself, but also because of the second implication, which is that Christ is actively involved in His creation and in carrying out the Divine Plan of God.  Third, as part of His divine plan, Paul states that God “chose us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world” having “predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ to Himself” and that “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purposes” (Eph. 1:4,5,11).  In conjunction with this Paul also tells us, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, . . . and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30).  If we put these three implications together we find that Christ, having produced the ages of time in which the Divine Plan of God is working, is actively seeing to it that the Father’s plan is carried out to completion.  As part of that plan the Father has chosen to save those whom He foreknew.  Therefore, Christ is actively saving those whom the Father has called and actively moving that salvation on to its intended end.  Because of this we can echo Paul’s words, “I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).  Or we can run to the words of the writer of Hebrews found in 7:25; “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Time and time again God reminds us that the work of our salvation is complete in Christ.  The writer of Hebrews begins his letter with the profound statement that Jesus the Messiah is in the process of carrying out God’s Divine Plan, including the salvation of His chosen, to its fullest extent.  We do not work for our salvation.  It is a gift.  We do not work to keep our salvation.  It is an eternal, everlasting gift. We have assurance of that because Jesus Christ is actively carrying God’s Divine Plan out to its intended end.

Rest in Him my friends.  I pray this helps.