Why Did Baucham Refuse to Participate in the Elephant Room 2?

I hesitate to post more than once a day. It’s hard enough to keep up with the plethora of information in the blogosphere. But, Voddie Baucham’s post on the Elephant Room controversy deserves to be read. He’s an excellent example of a faithful pastor and I’m looking forward to hearing him live at Shepherd’s Conference this year.

I’m posting a few highlights, read the entire article here: http://www.gracefamilybaptist.net/voddie-baucham-ministries/blog/elephant-room-2012-01/

Why Did Voddie Baucham refuse an invitation to participate in the Elephant Room? Are the beliefs of  T.D. Jakes actually bad enough to warrant all the controversy? Baucham’s response here:

1. T.D. Jakes has a history of holding to, teaching, and associating with modalism, and ER2 was a forum wherein he would be assumed to be a “brother”.I was already on record concerning Bishop Jakes’s modalism (see:  The Ever Loving Truth, LifeWay, 2004), and I have kept up with the matter.  Jakes had never repudiated Oneness Pentecostalism.  Nor had he come out with an unambiguous, credal/confessional statement on the doctrine of the Trinity.  There was absolutely no basis for me to assume that Jakes was suddenly orthodox, and therefore, no basis for me to welcome him as a brother.

2. The “Word of Faith” gospel he preaches is heterodox and harmful.Even if Jakes had come out with a statement on the doctrine of the Trinity, it would not have done anything to change the fact that he preaches “another gospel.” (Gal 1:8–9)  Having studied the “Word of Faith” movement, and seen the devastation it leaves in its wake, I was disinclined to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the man who has been this country’s most popular purveyor of this heresy in the past two decades (Note:  James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll had both preached against the Word of Faith movement and called it heresy, so I did not believe I was informing James of anything he did not know already).

3. Jakes’s influence in the Dallas Metroplex has been negative, at best. My wife is from Dallas, and my in-laws still live there (her parents and five siblings).  I have preached in Dallas on many occasions, and at numerous churches, and have many acquaintances in the city.  I know firsthand what kind of influence T.D. Jakes has had on the evangelical community, and broader Christian witness there.  Suffice to say that he has not brought greater gospel clarity and fidelity.  He has, however, brought a charismatic, theatrical, excessive, “Word of Faith” flavor to the city that permeates many churches (especially black churches).

4. Bishop Jakes is an example of the worst the black church has to offer. One of the goals of ER2 was to address the issue of “racial” unity.  Thus, Bishop Jakes was there (at least in part) as a representative of the “black church.”  In light of the aforementioned issues, I was disinclined to participate in such an event.  You see, Jakes was an invited guest; an invited ‘black’ guest.  If he were mistreated, he had the race card; if he was accepted, he had entree into a new audience.  It was a win-win for Jakes, and a lose-lose for evangelicalism.  Obviously, he was not going to spout unadulterated modalism.  Nor was he going to repudiate his roots (remember, this is his “heritage,” both ethnically and theologically).  He had a perfect opportunity to find a middle ground and show “humility” in an environment that would be portrayed as “hostile” even though hostility was forbidden in light of the unwritten rules surrounding his blackness.   Thus, his opponents had to choose between outright defeat and pyrrhic victory.

Moreover, I rejected the invitation because I did not want to give even the appearance of tokenism.  The participants in the Elephant Room (and ER2), though they disagree methodologically on how we “get there,” are all virtually identical in their general profile.  They are all successful mega-church pastors who have leveraged innovative and/or controversial methodologies to grow their churches, media empires, and/or pare-church ministries.  I, on the other hand, am a pastor serving at a church with less than five hundred members; I’m not on television or radio; and my books aren’t best sellers.  I don’t fit the profile!  Whether MacDonald meant to or not, he was painting a picture of tokenism.  If he meant it, I didn’t want to be used, and if he didn’t mean it, I didn’t want to be the source of misunderstanding.

-Voddie Baucham,  01-30-2012,  http://www.gracefamilybaptist.net/voddie-baucham-ministries/blog/elephant-room-2012-01/

Don’t Be Left in the Dark Without Any Oil

How do I live if I wish to do all to the Glory of God? Convicting and wise council from J.C. Ryle a la Matthew 25:1-13, 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colosians 3:17. While the believer is secure in Christ, we still don’t want to be caught unprepared when our time on earth is finished.

“Live as if you thought that Christ might come at any time. Do everything, as if you did it for the last time. Say everything, as if you said it for the last time. Read every chapter in the Bible, as if you did not know whether you would be allowed to read it again. Pray every prayer, as if you felt it might be your last opportunity. Hear every sermon, as if you were hearing once and forever. This is the way to be found ready. This is the way to turn Christ’s second appearing to good account. This is the way to put on the armor of light.”

-J.C. Ryle, Tract: Coming Events and Present Duties http://jcrylequotes.com/2012/01/30/live-as-if-christ-will-appear-today/

What Must I Believe to Be Saved?

What must I believe to be saved? Which truths are necessary for conversion? Here’s what Jonathan Edwards taught:

“It is essential to Christianity

that we repent of our sins,

that we be convinced of our own sinfulness,

that we are sensible we have justly exposed ourselves to God’s wrath,

that our hearts do renounce all sin,

that we do with our whole hearts embrace Christ as our only Saviour;

that we love him above all, and

are willing for his sake to forsake all, and

that we do give up ourselves to be entirely and forever his.”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, 334;  http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/what-is-essential-to-being-a-christian

Post-Prayer Satanic Whispers

Here’s an awesome post from David Murray which I found very encouraging. Too often, I think my struggles are unique to me. What joy comes knowing that my spiritual state is in God’s hands and that doubts are common to all believers.

““…and forgive my sins. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Within seconds the wicked whispers start.

“Too short.”

“Too shallow.”

“Too distracted…again.”

“Missed out her, and him, and them…”

“Yawn. Nothing new to say?”

“You call that a prayer?”

“Not enough faith…not enough passion…not enough anything.”

“You don’t actually believe that made a difference, do you?”

“You’ll probably not even think about prayer for the rest of the day”

And on, and on, and on it goes.

Relentless, cruel, malicious Satanic whispers that begin the second I end my morning prayer with, “Amen.”

Anyone else get that? It’s so discouraging, isn’t it. I mean, why pray if all you get at the end of it is an even heavier feeling of guilt and failure? Prayer should be a delight not a dread.

I’d really welcome your own input on this, but here’s how I try to fight back, silence the whispers, and turn prayer into a soul-refreshing delight again.

  1. God has forgiven me all my sins – even my sinful prayers.
  2. Jesus is perfecting my prayers and presenting them absolutely flawless to my Heavenly Father.
  3. My salvation does not depend on my prayers but on Jesus’ prayers.
  4. My Heavenly Father listens even to the raven’s ugly grating squawks (Ps. 147:9) and gives it food; how much more will he hear and answer the ugly grating squawks of one of His children?
  5. God delights in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy (Ps 147:9).
  6. God knows I’m a limited creature who cannot possibly pray for everyone everyday.
  7. Surely the Devil would simply leave me alone if my prayers were really so pathetic and useless.
  8. Just because my children don’t (can’t) tell me everything about their lives doesn’t make me love them less, nor does it reflect a lack of love on their part.
  9. But maybe best of all, “You, Satan, are going to be crushed under my feet shortly” (Rom. 16:2o).

Anyone got any more armor or weapons to fight this battle with? Any effective rebuttals or even prebuttals?”

Complements of: http://headhearthand.org/blog/2012/01/27/post-prayer-satanic-whispers/

Depression = Low Serotonin: Medical Fact or Myth

Today at the Cripplegate, Jesse Johnson posted a great article on depression and the use of drugs. Jesse’s conclusions are very helpful; it is unwise for a pastor to quibble with medical professionals. Nevertheless, these admissions from medical experts are startling. Quoted below are the conclusions of NPR’s Correspondent Alix Spiegel. Read Jesse’s article here:  http://thecripplegate.com/depression-and-serotonin/

“So why are so many people still talking about low serotonin causing depression?

Frazer says it’s probably because it has had, and continues to have, important cultural uses. For one, he says, by initially framing the problem as a deficiency — something that needed to be returned to normal — patients felt more comfortable taking a drug.

“If there was this biological reason for them being depressed, some deficiency that the drug was correcting,” Frazer says, then taking a drug was OK. “They had a chemical imbalance and the drug was correcting that imbalance.” In fact, he says, the story enables many people to come out of the closet about being depressed, which he views as a good thing.

Still, there’s no question that the story also has downsides. Describing the problem exclusively in biological terms has convinced many people to take antidepressants when other therapies — like talk therapy — can work just as well.

One critic I talked to said the serotonin story distracted researchers from looking for other causes of depression. But Delgado agrees with Frazer and says the story has some benefits. He points out that years of research have demonstrated that uncertainty itself can be harmful to people — which is why, he says, clear, simple explanations are so very important.
“When you feel that you understand it, a lot of the stress levels dramatically are reduced,” he says. “So stress, hormones and a lot of biological factors change.”

Unfortunately, the real story is complicated and, in a way, not all that reassuring. Researchers don’t really know what causes depression. They’re making progress, but they don’t know. That’s the real story.”

Read full post here: http://thecripplegate.com/depression-and-serotonin/

Ready for Christ’s Return

“Wherever you may live, and whatever may be your trials; however great your difficulties, and however small your helps; nothing should prevent your aiming at the highest standard, to behave like one who believes that Christ is coming again! You should resolve, by God’s help, to live so that the day of Christ shall find you needing as little change as possible! You should seek to have . . .

your tastes so heavenly,

your affections so spiritual,

your will so subdued,

your mind so unworldly —

that when the Lord appears, you may be thoroughly in tune for His kingdom!”

-J.C. Ryle, Tract: Coming Events and Present Duties, Posted at: http://jcrylequotes.com/2012/01/25/behave-like-christ-is-coming-again/

The Next Billy Graham Might Be Drunk Right Now

I know this is several weeks old, but it is definitely worth mentioning. I just stumbled across a great post by Russell Moore. He quotes Carl F. H. Henry and gives reasons for encouragement about the future of the kingdom of God on earth, despite the many discouragements in modern evangelicalism.

““Why, you speak as though Christianity were genetic,” he said. “Of course, there is hope for the next generation of evangelicals. But the leaders of the next generation might not be coming from the current evangelical establishment. They are probably still pagans.”

“Who knew that Saul of Tarsus was to be the great apostle to the Gentiles?” he asked us. “Who knew that God would raise up a C.S. Lewis, a Charles Colson? They were unbelievers who, once saved by the grace of God, were mighty warriors for the faith.”

Of course, the same principle applied to Henry himself. Who knew that God would raise up a newspaperman from a nominally Lutheran family to defend the Scriptures for generations of conservative evangelicals?

The next Jonathan Edwards might be the man driving in front of you with the Darwin Fish bumper decal. The next Charles Wesley might be a misogynist, profanity-spewing hip-hop artist right now. The next Billy Graham might be passed out drunk in a fraternity house right now. The next Charles Spurgeon might be making posters for a Gay Pride March right now. The next Mother Teresa might be managing an abortion clinic right now.

But the Spirit of God can turn all that around. And seems to delight to do so. The new birth doesn’t just transform lives, creating repentance and faith; it also provides new leadership to the church, and fulfills Jesus’ promise to gift his church with everything needed for her onward march through space and time (Eph. 4:8-16).

After all, while Phillip was leading the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ, Saul of Tarsus was still a murderer.”

-Dr. Russel D. Moore, 01-02-2012, full article here: http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/01/02/the-next-billy-graham-might-be-drunk-right-now/, italics added

Mutual Submission: Biblical or a Myth?

Tim Challies brings us another gem in his article on a consistently controversial yet vitally important subject. This post reminds us to shape our theology on a proper interpretation of the Word of God, not because of social pressure or political correctness.

“There is a lot of debate over how to take the command in Ephesians 5:18-21 to “Be filled with the Spirit … submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” How you interpret this text is, for many, the dividing line between being egalitarian or complementarian in their view of the roles of men and women in general and husbands and wives in particular.

The two main lines of interpretation are

1. “Submitting to one another” indicates mutual submission, which means that Spirit-filled Christians are to submit equally to one another without making hierarchical distinctions. This is the traditionally egalitarian interpretation.

2. “Submitting to one another” is a call to recognize the differing roles of authority that God has established in society and to submit appropriately to each one. This is the traditionally complementarian interpretation.

Peter O’Brien, in his excellent commentary on Ephesians, offers a helpful outline of the arguments behind each of these interpretations. Below is a summary of what he has written.

The first interpretation is often supported by the arguments that

1. Grammatically, Paul uses the verb “submit” in a form (the “middle/passive voice” for you Greek-ers) that softens its meaning so that it indicates a more voluntary, self-sacrificing kind of submission.

2. Paul adds the expression “to one another” after the verb to indicate the elimination of any idea of hierarchy in how we understand who is supposed to submit to whom. Submission is to be across horizontal lines, among equals.

The second interpretation is often supported by the arguments that

1. Wherever else the verb “submit” occurs in the New Testament, regardless of its form, it implies an ordered relationship in which one party is “over” and another “under.” And since the same understanding of “submit” fits well in Ephesians 5:21 and it’s context, there is no warrant to go beyond its usual semantic range and interpret it otherwise.

2. The expression “to one another” does not always indicate a fully reciprocal relationship in the New Testament (see Revelation 6:4 and Galatians 6:2, where the actions in view are not always two-way streets).

3. The flow of the argument—seen in how Paul moves immediately in 5:22-6:9 to spell out what submission looks between wives and husbands, children and parents, and slaves and masters—illustrates that he sees a God-designed order in society for who ought to submit to whom.

O’Brien concludes that, “on grounds of semantics, syntax, and the flow of Paul’s argument we prefer the latter interpretation. The apostle is not speaking of mutualsubmission in the sense of a reciprocal subordination, but submission to those who are in authority over them.” You will not be surprised to learn that I find his argument compelling.”

Tim Challies, 01/23/2012, Posted at: http://www.challies.com/resources/mutual-submission

Should I Marry a Man with Pornography Struggles?

Should a godly woman marry a guy with pornography struggles? This morning Dr. Russell D. Moore posted a powerfully perceptive article on marriage, sin and repentance. This is one of the wisest articles I’ve read in quite some time on the mortification of lust. His theological extrapolations on the grievous nature of sexual misconduct are uniquely profound. Here are a few highlights:

“Pornography is a universal temptation precisely because it does exactly what the satanic powers wish to do. It lashes out at the Trinitarian nature of reality, a loving communion of persons, replacing it with a masturbatory Unitarianism.

And pornography strikes out against the picture of Christ and his church by disrupting the one-flesh union, leaving couples like our prehistoric ancestors, hiding from one another and from God in the darkness of shame.

And pornography rages, as Satan always does, against Incarnation (1 Jn. 4:2-3), replacing flesh-to-flesh intimacy with the illusion of fleshless intimacy.”

Read the entire post here: http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/01/23/should-i-marry-a-man-with-pornography-struggles-my-response/

Three Deadly Words: “It’s A Girl”

“In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls(1) are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect, and many grow up to face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members.

The war against girls is rooted in centuries-old tradition and sustained by deeply ingrained cultural dynamics which, in combination with government policies, accelerate the elimination of girls.

Shot on location in India and China, It’s a Girl! explores the issue. It asks why this is happening, and why so little is being done to save girls and women.

The film tells the stories of abandoned and trafficked girls, of women who suffer extreme dowry-related violence, of brave mothers fighting to save their daughters’ lives, and of other mothers who would kill for a son. Global experts and grassroots activists put the stories in context and advocate different paths towards change, while collectively lamenting the lack of any truly effective action against this injustice.

Currently in post-production, It’s a Girl! is scheduled for a 2012 release.”

http://www.itsagirlmovie.com/synopsis

As believers we know the best way to overcome this centuries-old gendercide is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the greco-roman world the Christian worldview liberated women. The gospel can affect the same change today in China and India.  The Bible is clear that women were created equal with men, and scripture speaks of their value and encourages their education. In Christ there is neither Jew or Greek,  slave or free, male or female, but Christ is Lord of all (Galatians 3:28).

The Bible lays out clear gender roles, but these do not suppress women. Their value to society and the Kingdom of God as individuals and through the raising of godly children is vast. The murder of girls, born and unborn, is very grievous to God. He cares about the needy, and promises retribution for all who oppress the helpless (Psalm 9:12; 94:23; Deuteronomy 32:35; Nahum 1:2-3).