Category Archives: God

To Hell With Marriage… Oh Wait, There Is No Hell

On Sunday, former pastor and author Rob Bell expressed his support for gay “marriage” during a forum at Grace Cathedral, the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California.

“I am for marriage,” he said. “I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think … we need to affirm people wherever they are.” Continue reading —>

Frankly, I’m only surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Anyone who has paid any attention to Bell’s career over the past couple of years will hardly be flabbergasted at this latest bit of funny business. He’s been retreating from orthodoxy for some time now, with the steadiness of Aesop’s tortoise – only quite a bit faster.

The word ‘love’ holds a prominent place in his vocabulary, yet it lacks any kind of biblical mooring. It’s merely the sentimentalism of postmodern times, weak-kneed and nauseatingly vapid: the kind of love that “affirms” you where you are, even if where you are is on the road to hell.

But of course, I have forgotten: Bell isn’t so sure about the whole hell thing. And if there is no hell, no place of eternal punishment for unrepentant sinners, then why is repentance such a big deal anyway? Love wins, don’t you know.

So I’ll hang with Jesus, and you hang with sin, ’cause we’ll all wind up in heaven in the end.

Bell talks a lot about God’s love. But what about God’s holiness? What about His justice? What about His fierce and eternal wrath again sin? God’s attributes are not, to borrow the words of Timothy Tennent, “like separate petals on a flower. God’s love is a just love. God’s mercy is a holy mercy, and so forth.” You cannot proclaim them in isolation. You cannot tell me of God’s love without also telling me of His wrath. The one has no meaning without the other.

The evangelical perspective, says Bell, is “narrow, politically intertwined, [and] culturally ghettoized.” We need to turn away from such “destructive” policies. We need to “die or adapt.”

Die or adapt. This, in rank opposition to the words of St. Paul: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

We are not called to adapt, Mr. Bell. We are called to stand fast (Philippians 4:1). Nor are we called to die, at least not in the way that you mean it. Christ’s Church will endure. He will have His Bride, and she will be spotless.

You would have us abandon Scripture, Mr. Bell, for the sake of cultural Brownie points. God and His Word must bend at the behest of our postmodern whim. “Cast your Bibles to the wind and wed the spirit of the age!”

But then, as Chesterton would say, “He who weds the spirit of the age soon finds himself a widower.”

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Thomas à Kempis Got Nothing On Us

thomas-a-kempis-1“Modern cheesiness in worship is now approaching its zenith. Recently, my wife and I were in another city on vacation on the Lord’s Day, and so we sought out a place for worship. We picked a church that seemed (somewhat) safe by its name, and joined them to worship our God together. To make a long story short, the high point of the singing portion of the service was when the song leader had everyone put one arm out straight in front, with the other hand behind the head, in order that all the congregants might spin about in place, spritzing like lawn sprinklers. ‘Who says that church isn’t fun!’ cried one of the song leaders in a moment of religious fervor. When it comes to devotion, Thomas à Kempis got nothing on us.

The great argument advanced today in favor of such seeker sensitive worship is that we have to present the gospel to today’s unbeliever in a way that is relevant to him. But the word relevance, though it has a fine dictionary definition, really has to be understood as the battle cry of modern unbelief. This is not because the word itself is objectionable, but because liberals and their modern evangelical cousins have freighted it with a hidden system of weights and measures – in which the world, and not Scripture, determines the content of our faith and practice.

There are at least two kinds of irrelevance. One is the irrelevance of offering a bicycle to an oyster. But there is another kind of irrelevance entirely, and that is the practice of setting forth the gospel of light and righteousness to those who love their darkness and iniquity. We are commanded to be irrelevant in this second sense. We are called to worship God in a way that is pleasing to Him, and to which unbelievers will be attracted only if God moves them in a sovereign and mysterious way.”

– Douglas Wilson, A Primer on Worship and Reformation (p. 13)

It Begins

“The Christian message does not begin with ‘accept Christ as your Savior’; it begins with ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ The Bible teaches that God is the sole source of the entire created order. No other gods compete with Him; no natural forces exist on their own; nothing receives its nature or existence from another source. Thus His word, or laws, or creation ordinances give the world its order and structure. God’s creative word is the source of the laws of physical nature, which we study in the natural sciences. It is also the source of the laws of human nature – the principals of morality (ethics), of justice (politics), of creative enterprise (economics), of aesthetics (the arts), and even of clear thinking (logic). That’s why Psalm 119:91 says, ‘all things are your servants.’ There is no philosophically or spiritually neutral subject matter.”

– Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (p. 45)

Christmas as War

“We do not just prepare for a Christmas full of delightful sentiment, family time, and happy nostalgia – although all these things are acknowledged and embraced by us. We celebrate Christmas, and everything that follows, as an act of war. War? What about peace on earth, good will toward men? Jesus also said that He did not come to bring peace on earth, but rather a sword. How may this be reconciled? Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but the peace He brings is not the peace of dithering diplomats, who like nothing better than to talk, talk, talk. Our Lord Jesus does bring peace, but He does so as a conquering king. He brings peace through superior firepower. That firepower is not carnal, but it is potent, and the principalities and powers (those that are left) tremble at the might wielded by a faithful Christian church, uncontaminated by idols, worshiping God in the spirit of holiness.

And so we are preparing to say to one another, “Merry Christmas!” And we sing to one another about the inauspicious beginning of Christ’s conquest – “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.” But we also see, with the eye of faith, the end of the process – “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” And so in Christmas, we turn to the principalities and powers (those that are left), conduct our celebrations, and all God’s people say, “Take that.”

– Douglas Wilson, God Rest Ye Merry (pp. 116-117)

Thankful

For the redeeming blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – who paid the debt I could not pay, to clothe me in righteousness that is not mine, to give me riches I do not deserve. “What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!”

J.C. Ryle: “The quantity of that blood may very likely have been small; the appearance of that blood was doubtless like that of our own: but never since the day when Adam was first formed out of the dust of the ground, has any blood been shed of such deep importance to the whole family of mankind.”

For my family – the craziness, the laughter, the love, the memories. The very people I should least take for granted, yet often do.

Erma Bombeck: “The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.”

For books, glorious books – can you imagine life without them? I cannot. What worlds would be lost, what wonders hidden! I count myself blessed to live in a home where such things are treasured – and that Book of Books treasured chief of all.

Niel Gaiman: “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!”

For words – to speak and to write. But especially to write. Words gritty and elegant, small and great, earthy and sky-kissed. Words like “effervescence” and “lamprophony”. Words to sling across the page, to get drunk on.

Dorothy Sayers: “Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?” “So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober.”

For writers – those who are what I work to be. Cormac McCarthy. C.S. Lewis. Charles Spurgeon. G.K. Chesterton. Ray Bradbury. Douglas Wilson. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Mark Steyn. Carl Trueman. The next best thing to being a genius oneself is to study those who are. These men are. And I thank God for what I can learn from them.

Thomas Berger: “Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.”

For my friends – the near ones, the far ones, and the in-between ones. The ones I have seen face-to-face and the ones I hope to see face-to-face. In the words of a tiny yet well-known individual, “God bless them, every one.”

C.S. Lewis: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gives survival value.”

For my pastor – who takes seriously his responsibilities as a minister. Who shepherds his flock with diligence. Who preaches what the Word says, and not what he would like it to say. I know if I were speak this to his face, he would probably say that he’s “a black-hearted sinner.” True, of course. But he’s also a great and godly man, and one which I deeply respect. God bless him, too.