Friday, September 30, 2005

King David: Blues Singer

Ever notice how many of the Psalms were written when the author was in anguish over life's terrific problems? The old addage, "you can't sing the blues unless you've lived the blues" applies here. Since the Psalms were all set to music, that would make King David (and maybe Asaph as backup vocals) a blues singer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Law Written on the Heart

According to all I've been taught, non-believers have God's law written on their heart. So they have no excuse. And when God saves a sinner, He writes His law on that person's heart.

Why the redundancy? What purpose would writing the same thing have? But Romans says that natural man has the work of the law written on his heart. I'd have to say that the law and the work of the law are two different things. Maybe?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Owe No Man Anything?

This verse in Romans 13 is commonly used as a teaching against Christians being in monetary debt. This teaching is fairly common, but one notable exception seems to be the largest debt one may ever incur, that of the mortgaging of a home. Interesting how that happens.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Use Your Gifts!

"Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly..." Romans 12:6 (NASB)

Let this be an encouragement to exercise your gifts. And since this exhortation is directly from the Scriptures to the believers, no human mediator is necessary to give you permission; whether from pastors, missions boards or church committees.


Monday, May 16, 2005

Still Protesting?

Protestants get their name from their alignment with a group of men who protested against some abuses and doctrinal errors in the medieval Roman Catholic church some 400 years ago. Yet many today act as if our 21st century American culture were still dominated by the medieval Roman mindset.

But consider that the American heritage is largely Protestant. The Pilgrims were largely Reformed, Protestant Puritans, and our idea of government is largely influenced by their thought. Most of our presidents have been affiliated with Protestant churches (JFK is a notable exception), as is the case with Congress. The Southern Baptists make up our largest church denomination. Our education was largely founded by Protestants (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc.) as were our public schools. The "Christian Right" is mostly evangelical Protestant as is the "Bible Belt." Our history is full of "hellfire and brimstone" preachers (Protestants). The Roman church has changed much in the last 400 years, and many modern American Catholics disagree with the pope on a number of issues. Our present culture doesn't even have a clue as to what Rome was doing 400 years ago.

Yet, our Reformed preachers continue to preach the doctrine of "justification by faith alone" and other Reformed doctrine just as if we were living 400 years ago. This one doctrine has been equated with the gospel itself more times than I can remember, and it is widely viewed as the central message of the New Testament. Understanding this doctrine is used as a litmus test for orthodoxy, spirituality and even salvation. No, as true as this doctrine might be, and I believe it to be so, the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every thought, word and act of every man, woman, child, atom and molecule is the central message of the Bible.

Ironically, a large point in Reformed preaching is how the church is ineffective in the culture around us. Maybe we could listen to this while simultaneously looking in the mirror. We won't win an ignorant culture over to our side when we continue to protest against things that no longer have rule over us.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Music is Reversible

At the heart of the debate between the Covenantal and Dispensational views of the covenant(s) is the argument of continuity or discontinuity from Old to New Covenant. Covenant theology stresses continuity and dispansationalism stresses discontinuity.

Yet, in the area of music in the church, they quite often switch positions. The hard core covenanters often hold a "biblical" position limited to the singing of psalms alone, a cappella, completely ignoring both the instruments used in the psalms themselves and the "continuity" that would invite their heavy use today. Dispensationalists on the other hand often sing only "spiritual songs", citing the New Testament reference as replacing the Old way, yet use every instrument that makes a sound (without reference in the NT for validation).

So much for systematic theology...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Hard Saying

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." John 5:39-40.

Harsh words from our Lord to those want to know all about Him, but not know Him. Yikes, I better read my bible more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Dangers in being Reformed

I've come to realize that there are some dangers in being "Reformed," and that these dangers are quite widespread. One pitfall can be found in the term "Reformed" itself. The word is in the past tense. It also indicates completion. And quite a few Reformed folk act that way, me included of course.

You see, this is the attitude that says, "all doctrine that we ever need to know was already figured out by a bunch of 400 year old dead guys. Oh, and we've arrived." We can be stuck in the past with blinders on as to the present... and to the future as well. Of course, everything and everybody can be judged in black and white by that completed knowledge. We wrench the Protestant Reformation, and its reactionary doctrines (they're not necessarily a bad thing), out of its medieval context and apply it equally to all times and all cultures. Not Reformed? Well, then, you're a suspect.

It seems that of all the doctrines "recovered", revealed or invented during the Reformation, the doctrine of semper reformanda, that is, "always reforming", is one of the most neglected in today's Reformed church. The Reformers themselves were humble enough (in this area at least) to realize that they didn't have the final word on everything. To think that they had reached finality in doctrine would have been to become as the very Rome they protested against.

The church needs to move forward in its doctrine and practice. To fail in this is like wrapping your talent in a hankercheif and burying it in the ground. And we all know what Jesus had to say about that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Theology - Likes & Dislikes

Here are some of my likes & dislikes (or beliefs & disbeliefs):

Likes: The priesthood of all believers, decentralization of church government, the Berean spirit, private interpretation of Scripture (clarification: the duty to privately interpret the truth from Scripture as opposed to coming up with a private interpretation), 24/7/365 Christianity, moderation in consumption of alcohol etc.

Dislikes: Legalism, lording it over the sheep, institutionalization of the church, "corporate mindedness" within the church, pessimistic view of Christ's kingdom, hyper-spirituality.

These are some of the things that will form the basis for my blogging here on "From the Pew."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Why "From the Pew"?

Well, I'm in. Just getting my toes wet. My first blog post.

So why have I named this blog "From the Pew"? I'm not a pastor, seminary graduate or professional theologian, and am not currently a church leader or office holder. Just a regular dude sitting in the pew... with plenty of opinions about how we moderns "do church."

It seems that the ones "in control" make, and have always made, all the rules, biblical or not, and maybe it's time for a change. I seem to read my bible a bit differently than those systematically trained in who knows what.

My aim is to get Christians thinking about what they do and why. So, here's some theology "From the Pew."