With all due respect to Orthodox (with their icons) and Roman Catholics (with their images)...
When Mr. Gibson makes a celluloid icon and calls Christians to express their devotion to the Lord Jesus by venerating that icon, Mr. Gibson is doing precisely what we reformed folks have accused his communion of doing for almost five hundred years, now--he is being an orthodox Roman Catholic encouraging the veneration of images of God.
Responding to my entry, Not Just Now, Thank You, dealing with the conversion to Roman Catholicism of many of my peers from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Greg Barnes writes:
I suspect that many of those who are converting to Rome are like so many who convert to Mormonism, in that they know very little about what they are getting into. It also shows a defect in the curriculum of whatever seminaries and Bible colleges those preachers attended...
And Pastor Paul McCain writes:
Tim, we've suffered a few diversions ourselves. Not too many though. Perhaps some of the more notorious conversions would include Richard John Neuhaus... and Jaroslav Pelican who headed East. ....What do you think accounts for it? I've identified it as a longing for some sense of "security" which is gladly provided in the "magisterium" of Rome... Your thoughts?
To which I respond:
Without getting too specific, whatever may be said about the rest of the Gordon-Conwell converts, no one would accuse Scott or Kimberly Hahn of being ignorant of what they were getting into. Scott and Kimberly were (and are) both bright ones, and would have known exactly what they were doing. On more than one occasion, I was very pleased to have Kimberly standing with me when I was arguing with Professor Roger Nicole in his advocacy of the ordination of women. And Kimberly's husband, Scott, was the cutting edge of theonomy's entrance into our campus who, like every other proponent of theonomy I've known, was no dullard.
Neuhaus is an interesting and, I think, instructive case. When he converted to Roman Catholicism he sent a number of us a letter explaining his action and I here quote what I found most telling, and have since resonated with:
by David and Tim Bayly on April 22, 2004 - 12:20pm
Last night I looked over Jesus People USA's (JPUSA) annual brochure promoting Cornerstone, the closest thing the evangelical world has to Woodstock. I noted with sadness that evangelicals' cultural enslavement proceeds apace. It's time to write and ask to be taken off JPUSA's mailing list, ending a close-to-thirty-year friendship with these old freaks.
JPUSA's brochure announces that a whole phalanx of evangelical feminists will be available to indoctrinate the youngsters, oldsters, and hipsters who show up to camp out and listen to Glenn Kaiser, his Rez Band, and friends. Christians for Biblical Equality is being provided big-top exposure.
Years ago, I rejoiced in JPUSA's counter-cultural witness in my home town, Chicago, and I encouraged church members to visit their inner-city intentional community, working and worshipping with them and catching their vision for ministries of compassion. But as the decades passed...
I was preparing to preach on Luke's account of Martha entertaining Christ (Luke 10:38-42) last week, and, as usual, I read Calvin on the passage first.
I'm fascinated when reading Calvin's commentaries by the incredible variety of passages which stirred up controversy in his day. You wouldn't think the story of Jesus commending Mary and chastising Martha would have any relevance to the debates of the Reformation, but it did.
Why? Because, as Calvin explains, the Roman church had distorted Jesus' commendation of Mary sitting at His feet into a wholesale commendation of the "contemplative life."
Usually we regard practitioners of the contemplative life as the monks and nuns, hermits and cloistered religious of Roman Catholicism. And Calvin does condemn monks in his exposition of this passage, but he adds another, rather unexpected, profession to his list of those who have perverted this passage...
by David and Tim Bayly on April 30, 2004 - 10:35am
Commenting on my entry, "JPUSA: She's the boss...," a reader wrote, "(I) would be interested to hear your comments on the TNIV and this disturbing gender-neutral trend." To which I respond:
The TNIV is an emendation of the actual Hebrew and Greek text of God's Word, and therefore rebellion against the Holy Spirit Who is the author of that Word. (Similarly, the NRSV, the NIVI, the NLT, etc.) The men marketing these versions have changed thousands of Scripture's words to the end that the patriarchal nature of the Greek and Hebrew text the Holy Spirit inspired will be obscured or removed.
For instance, the Hebrew word 'adam' is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to the whole human race, and by this usage we are reminded ...that Eve's husband, Adam, was our federal head, and that through him all who have ever lived are "conceived in sin," as David put it, and subject to death and hell. As the New England Primer reads, "In Adam's fall, we sinned all."
Changed to reflect the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the Primer's statement would read, "In Adam's fall, adam sinned all." Changed to fit the mold of these gender-neutered Bible products, it would read, "In Adam's and Eve's fall, people sinned all."
Multiply such changes thousands of times across the Old and New Testaments and the radical agenda becomes clear: 'man' becomes 'person,' 'men' becomes 'people,' 'brothers' becomes 'siblings,' and so on.
Those who make these changes deny the changes are ideologically motivated, claiming that they're simply implementing the latest linguistic scholarship used by translators across the world, and that those who oppose these changes are ignorant...
It's increasingly questionable whether Christianity Today retains the slightest remnant of historic Christianity.
Consider, for instance, the salvific power of portable sound systems in this excerpt from Christianity Today Online's website, Church Products and Services--helping you with the business of ministry (sic):
Phil Yancey is Christianity Today's house columnist. He's also the bounder sage of the atheological, non-confessional, nondenominational, pragmatic but angst-ridden evangelical subculture. If you're interested in this sort of thing, he serves as a good periscope into the minds of the brighter members of Willow Creek and her clones.
Recently, the post-evangelical, post-Marxist journal, Solourners, interviewed Yancey. Here are a couple excerpts:
Sex, lies, and life on the evangelical edge
An interview with Philip Yancey, the best-selling Christian author who is surprised at how much he gets away with.
Philip Yancey's books have sold more than 5 million copies internationally. He is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine. His books include Rumors of Another World (2003), Soul Survivor (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), and many others. Philip Yancey was interviewed in November by Sojourners editor-in-chief Jim Wallis in Washington, D.C.
Sojourners: Your books have been very successful in the evangelical world. You're able to ask questions that challenge evangelical orthodoxies. How do you do that?
Philip Yancey: I myself have been surprised at what I can get away with. When I sent off the manuscript of What's So Amazing About Grace? I said to my wife, Janet, "That's probably the last book I'm going to write for the evangelical market." It's got a whole chapter on Mel White, who's now a gay activist, and it's got a whole chapter on Bill Clinton, who's not the most favored president of evangelicals.
The Yancey/Smedes/Campolo hep crowd have long represented the soft underbelly of the evangelical position on sodomy.
Years back I wrote a piece reminding us that children are a blessing from the Lord, that happy is the man whose quiver is full, and that believers' use of birth control was almost always indicative of a lack of faith in the truth of God's Word concerning the meaning and purpose of sexuality and the place of procreation in marriage. Submitting the piece to Christianity Today for publication, I was mildly surprised to receive a response directly from CT's publisher, Harold Myra, arguing against my thesis. He said the piece was good and he'd circulate it among the editors to see if they wanted to publish it, but he felt my arguments were wrong-headed. Specifically, he used Phil Yancey as an example of a man whose gifts were put to much better use because Yancey and his wife were childless...
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31,32
It's no accident the move to legitimate sodomy has experienced its greatest success precisely during the past decade when AIDS has decimated the homosexualist community. From Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity, to legislators in Washington D. C., to the National Institutes of Health, there has (quite properly) been a surge of compassion for the sick and dying, but this compassion has provided perfect cover for the entry of same-sex intimacy into the mainstream of public approval.
Why kick a man when he's down? Sensing the political advantage victims possess in our culture, the sodomy lobby's rhetoric has been successful, and wrongheaded compassion has trumped God's Moral Law.
Similarly, compassion for victims of domestic abuse has been a potent weapon in the hands of those opposing God's universal law of father-rule or male headship. Consider this from a 1998 release by Baker Books:
Reading the book reviews in the latest (June 2004) issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, I came across a review of a recent issue by InterVarsity Press titled, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, by Stassen and Gushee. Here is a quote from the work:
...limiting family size not to what the family can afford but to what the world can afford is a clear moral duty.... Ethically appropriate birth control and practices of sexual responsibility are needed ecological practices in our age.
To speak of the use of birth control as "ethically appropriate" is to claim it to be a spiritual duty, and this is wicked, setting on its head the command of God to "be fruitful and multiply," as well as His command to His Church to "propagage a godly seed."
But much less, does anyone at IVP know or care how boring they are, now that they hawk stuff that was on the op-ed pages of the New York Times years ago--stuff that the Times has long since left behind now producing pieces on the dire straits the world is in due to the birth-shortage that prevails across the western world and is quickly overtaking the southern hemisphere, also?
I mean, you'd think that a 500 page volume on evangelical ethics could at least have checked with the secular demographers before writing such nonsense, not to mention checking with the Word of God and the Author of that Word, the Holy Spirit.
Here's a suggestion that I've been following for years, although not absolutely consistently: Only buy from publishers that honor God and His Word, unless you're buying the books used or remaindered.
Yes, IVP has a good back list and occasionally issues a good new work, but God-fearing Christians ought not to patronize them given their worldliness. I have no problem patronizing Marriott properties owned by Mormons, but I will not make common cause with men who claim to be under the authority of God's Word, yet call evil good and good evil.
(I might mention that my dad, Joe Bayly, was director of IVP from 1951 to 1960, so I take IVP's unfaithfulness to Scripture quite personally, viewing it as an attack upon my patrimony--not to mention our Patrimony.)
by David and Tim Bayly on August 17, 2004 - 1:06pm
My friend, Kevin Offner, an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff member working with grad students and faculty in the Washington DC area, passed on a link to the following interview of the University of Virginia sociologist, Bradford Wilcox. The interview is fascinating and here's a bit of a teaser to encourage our good readers to follow this link and read it in its entirety.
In the popular imagination, conservative evangelical fathers are power-abusing authoritarians. A new study says otherwise. Sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia works within walking distance of the Rotunda, the temple of knowledge that Thomas Jefferson modeled after the Pantheon. Wilcox, a native of Connecticut, arrived at the school as an undergraduate, earned a master's degree and Ph.D. at Princeton, and returned to Virginia to become an assistant professor of sociology. The University of Chicago Press published his first book, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands, in April. Both in the book and in earlier essays for academic journals, Wilcox has challenged stereotypes about evangelical family life. Wilcox, whose father and grandfather were priests in the Episcopal Church, is a Roman Catholic layman. CT contributing editor Douglas LeBlanc interviewed him in his office and by e-mail.
You quote feminist sociologists Julia McQuillan and Myra Marx Ferree as saying that evangelicalism is "pushing men toward authoritarian and stereotypical forms of masculinity and attempting to renew patriarchal relations." How does your work challenge their conclusions?
McQuillan and Ferree--and countless other academics--need to cast aside their prejudices about religious conservatives and evangelicals in particular. Compared to the average American family man, evangelical Protestant men who are married with children and attend church regularly spend more time with their children and their spouses. They also are more affectionate with their children and their spouses. They also have the lowest rates of domestic violence of any group in the United States.
Journalists such as Steve and Cokie Roberts and Christian feminists such as James and Phyllis Alsdurf have argued that patriarchal religion leads to domestic violence. My findings directly contradict their claims.
Domestic violence is an important problem in our society, but we should not confuse the matter by blaming conservative religion. The roots of domestic violence would seem to lie elsewhere.
Now, it is true that evangelical fathers take a stricter approach to discipline than most other fathers. For instance, they spank their children more than other fathers do. But their disciplinary approach is balanced by their involved and affectionate approach to fathering. In my view, this neotraditional style of fathering can in no way be called "authoritarian or stereotypical." Indeed, I describe it as innovative in my book.
Why do many scholars have prejudices against evangelical men?
When most scholars and journalists look at evangelicalism and family life, all they can think about is evangelical gender-role traditionalism. They fixate on the fact that a majority of evangelicals believe that husbands should be the heads of their households, and that husbands should also be the primary (but not necessarily sole) breadwinners....
And one final excerpt:
Thus, churches are one of the few institutions in American life that actually foster male familial involvement. Churches push men away from their preoccupations with work, leisure, and sports and toward the needs of their families. This is why I argue that religion domesticates men. It helps men focus on their families.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 16, 2004 - 6:19am
No time like the present to send out another of Kierkegaard's gems:
Imagine a fortress, absolutely impregnable, provisioned for an eternity.
There comes a new commandant. He conceives that it might be a good idea to build bridges over the moats--so as to be able to attack the besiegers. Charmant! He transforms the fortress into a countryseat, and naturally the enemy takes it.
So it is with Christianity. They changed the method--and naturally the world conquered.
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon "Christendom," (Princeton University Press, 1944), p. 138.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 20, 2004 - 7:08am
A brother in Christ comments on an earlier post: "Today in America, the opportunities for a doctrinally orthodox pastor to maintain a bland inoffensiveness don't seem all that great."
To the contrary.
As a lawyer-friend of mine once put it concerning the preaching of his church in another state, "With the indicative, can't we please have the imperative?"
Or as a Bible Study Fellowship leader from one of my former churches put it, "It's not up to the preacher to apply the text--that's the job of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who should convict of sin, not you."
There is a relentless opposition to pastors preaching in such a way as to apply the text to the lives of their congregants, to preach to the conscience and not just the mind, and to call for repentance. In fact, there is a relentless opposition to pastors who move past teaching, to preaching.
This opposition is documented across church history and in the Scriptures. Consider Jesus' summary statement concerning Jerusalem:
Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!" (Matthew 23:34-39)
Speaking of the absence of danger in the preaching of his day, Kierkegaard was pointing out what is true here today--that pastors have given up preaching, settling for truisms, velveteen rabbit stories, and nostrums. We have given up working for the salvation of the souls we were called to guard and have settled for working for the building of our kingdoms or the maintenance of our lifestyles. And when security becomes the greatest good, danger must be removed. But not in too obvious a way.
If it's too obvious, the pastor might be exposed as the charlatan he is, holding the sinecure he does, and then the gig would be up. So we must act as if we're shepherds, good shepherds, and preachers and prophets, but do it in such a way as to avoid danger scrupulously. Give the congregants drama, all the drama they want, but fill the gun's barrel with blanks.
No, the market for "doctrinally orthodox pastors (who) maintain a bland inoffensiveness" continues to be a bull market.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 23, 2004 - 6:09pm
(Note from Tim Bayly: Here's a piece written by Dr. Andrew Dionne, a former member of our congregation who now serves as assistant pastor to my brother, David, at Christ the Word in Toledo, Ohio. Andrew has followed the battle over gender-neutral Bible translations for years and edits a web site that is a ministry of Church of the Good Shepherd called keptthefaith.org. You'll find the site a rich source of information on this matter. Check it out and make a contribution.)
It has long been my hunch that the International Bible Society and her Committee on Bible Translation (the organizations responsible for the translation of the popular New International Version) had plans to produce a neutered version of Scripture from the very beginning of the NIV. This enterprise was revealed when the IBS and CBT (along with their bed-fellow Zondervan) published the New International Version Inclusive Language Edition in early 1997. Evangelical leaders were encouraged shortly thereafter when IBS repented and, in a May 27, 1997 press release, promised to "forego all plans to develop a revised edition of the NIV."
by David and Tim Bayly on October 2, 2004 - 6:29pm
It's as plain as the nose on the end of my face that men such as Benny Hinn and Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network are a blot upon the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as scandalous as they are themselves in their false doctrine and naked greed, it is an even greater scandal that pastors around the country have failed to denounce these men and their ministries.
Read this article and you will see that no one at TBN contests the Los Angeles Times' report that Mr./Mrs. Paul Crouch jointly receive $764,700 in annual salary from TBN, nor that they travel in a 7.2 million turbojet, nor that they own two luxury homes in Newport Beach (one that is 11,000 square feet), nor that they own a ranch in Texas and a mountain retreat in Lake Arrowhead and thirty-some other residences.
The LA Times publishes other sordid details, but after such materialistic idolatry sex is a yawn.
The real scandal is not so much the Crouches' love of filthy lucre but the silence of shepherds who refuse to quash the precious fantasies of their own sheep and lambs who are addicted to this false gospel and the wicked kitsch of its host and hostess, and who think they can buy their way into this make-believe world by bribing God with fifty dollar bills. And in Africa TBN is everywhere!
If you're a pastor or elder or father of a Christian household, use your moral authority to put the Crouches and all their ilk out of business.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 2, 2004 - 8:03pm
More from Kierkegaard:
Beware therefore of them that like to walk in long robes! According to Christ (Who surely must know best about the way, since he is the Way) the gate is straight, the way is narrow--and few there be that find it. And what perhaps most of all has brought it about that the number of these few is so small, smaller proportionately with every century, is the monstrous illusion which official Christianity has conjured up. Persecution, maltreatment, bloodshedding, has by no means done such injury, no, it has been inestimably beneficial in comparison with the radical damage done by official Christianity, which is designed to serve human indolence, mediocrity, by making men believe that indolence, mediocrity and enjoyment of life is Christianity.
Do away with official Christianity, let persecution come--that very instant Christianity again exists.
-Soren Kierkegaard in Attack Upon "Christendom" 1854-1855, translated with an introduction by Walter Lowrie, The Beacon Press, Boston, 1956.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 7, 2004 - 3:00pm
blasphemy: Profane talk of something supposed to be sacred; impious irreverence. (The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary)
Several weeks ago a local Bloomington congregation called Sherwood Oaks Christian Church placed this ad in the Indiana University campus paper, Indiana Daily Student. Taking up a quarter of the op-ed page, when I first saw it I felt like I'd taken a punch to the solar plexus.
A young man from our congregation wrote the Sherwood Oaks Christian Church elders right away appealing to them to see what an assault the ad was on the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. He concluded his letter:
"Pro-choice" is a phrase nearly universally used to describe supporting legalized abortion. Over 1.2 million precious human lives are snuffed out every year in the United States alone, and well over 40 million unborn babies have been murdered since Roe v. Wade threw out state laws limiting abortion in 1973. I urge you to remove this phrase from both your advertisements and from your Web site.
Reading my friend's letter of protest, I assumed the ad had been placed hastily and that the elders and pastors would take a similar haste to clean up the mess as best they could. And although I had no illusion that this congregation of the Cambellite Christian Church denomination would see the contradiction of Scripture at the heart of their sales pitch, I did think they'd have a tender conscience concerning the ad's statement that would mislead many to think that Sherwood Oaks and its college ministry believe the Holy God affirms the killing of unborn children.
So then I was shocked to see the ad appear again, and to realize there would be no apology, clarification, or withdrawal of the ad on the part of the congregation's leadership.
Need I say that I am not offended in the least by the ad's appeal to alternative types, or to those aligned with political parties other than Republican? Rather I commend them for these sentiments, although it's worth noting Sherwood Oaks Christian Church is thousands large and about as "establishment" as any church in Bloomington.
But take time to read the ad's headline and text and you'll understand my writing that it's incomprehensible how a congregation could think that running something like this in a university newspaper would honor our Lord.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 16, 2004 - 9:12pm
Sherwood Oaks Christian Church has admitted their ad in the Indiana Daily Student using the hook line, "God is pro-choice," was not appropriate:
Ultimately, through much dialogue with sincere Christian brothers and sisters, we have come to the conclusion that the implementation of the hook-line was not comprehensively thought out.
This apology was what I expected from the beginning.
But let's go further and acknowledge there's a reason reformed churches and pastors so often are content to avoid the work of evangelism. After all, evangelism is risky--think of the risk Jesus took when he sat with the Samaritan woman, alone at the well speaking heart to heart. It was scandalous.
Loving the lost continues to be so today.
So here was an evangelistic ad that tried to bridge the gap between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and cynical postmoderns who are convinced evangelical Christianity is just a cover for Republical political ambitions and the civil religion of America's middle class. While the end doesn't justify the means in methods of evangelism any more than any other area of Christian life, it's certainly commendable to make an error in the same direction as our Lord Who had this to say about the work His Father gave Him (and by extension, us):
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)
by David and Tim Bayly on October 19, 2004 - 8:43am
Over at their blog, The Siblings Bayly--Heather, Joseph, and Michal, my eldest daughter, Heather, just posted on Bible businesses' efforts to market Scripture to young women through zine-style magazines. Check it out. And, for what it's worth...
The least we can say about marketing the Bible as a teenage magazine is, "If this is the kind of thing you like, then you're the kind of person who likes this kind of thing."
When I was in high school, we had this same effort to market Scripture to kids. It was done by all sorts of Bible businesses and, for my part, I can't remember one of my peers using any of them as a choice. Rather such ploys were for parents and other well-meaning adults who thought it might connect with the young person.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 4, 2004 - 6:04am
Has America's "special relationship" with Great Britain reached its end? In longing, perhaps not. But in reality, it looks increasingly like a case of unrequited love.
Britain loathes America, especially the America that voted George Bush a second term. More than anything else, pagan Britain loathes American Christianity.
Today's issue of Britain's newspaper of record, the Manchester Guardian, has a series of essays responding to the reelection of President Bush. Almost every essay identifies America's evangelical Christianity as inimical to Britain's modern character and future.
Below, snippets from the essays with links to the original. It's worth noting not only what is hated--American Evangelical Christianity--but the intensity with which it's hated. In several essays, it appears war (civil or international) would be preferable to the current religious climate in America.
Sidney Blumenthal, former Clinton aide and defender (and another American writing for the Guardian), rages against the evangelical church. The church is inspired by fear and Bush played to those fears--of women, of other nations, of other races. Read this carefully to smell the hatred. What would Blumenthal be screaming if an evangelical Christian wrote this way of Jews?
The evangelical churches became instruments of political organisation. Ideology was enforced as theology, turning nonconformity into sin, and the faithful, following voter guides with biblical literalism, were shepherded to the polls as though to the rapture. White Protestants, especially in the south, especially married men, gave their souls and votes for flag and cross. The campaign was one long revival. Abortion and stem cell research became a lever for prying loose white Catholics. To help in Florida, a referendum was put on the ballot to deny young women the right to abortion without parental approval and it galvanised evangelicals and conservative Catholics alike.
While Kerry ran on mainstream traditions of international cooperation and domestic investments, and transparency and rationality as essential to democratic government, Bush campaigned directly against these very ideas. At his rallies, Bush was introduced as standing for "the right God". During the closing weeks, Bush and Cheney ridiculed internationalism, falsifying Kerry's statement about a "global test". They disdained Kerry's internationalism as effeminate, unpatriotic, a character flaw, and elitist. "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," Cheney derided in every speech. They grafted imperial unilateralism on to provincial isolationism. Fear of the rest of the world was to be mastered with contempt for it.
This was linked to what is euphemistically called "moral values", which is social and sexual panic over the rights of women and gender roles. Only imposing manly authority against "girly men" and girls and lurking terrorists can save the nation. Above all, the exit polls showed that "strong leader" was the primary reason Bush was supported.
In this radical screed of self-loathing, the American author not only identifies with those who despise the U.S. around the globe, but urges a "militant" rejection of the president's policies by members of the American military. In essence, he's hoping for civil war. Apparently Mr. Marqusee has no idea of the attitude toward President Bush within the military.
Anti-Americanism has become a catch-all charge levied against anyone who engages in a radical critique of America's global power, its sway over the lives of billions who had no vote in Tuesday's election. People rebel against US hegemony for the same reasons they rebelled against the dominance of earlier imperial powers, not out of a distaste for the culture of the rulers but out of an objection to undemocratic, unaccountable, self-serving rule by remote elites of whatever culture.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 29, 2004 - 1:46pm
(Christian Retailing reports that total sales of Left Behind books and related products have now exceeded $1,000,000,000. And while the series itself has come to an end with the issuing of the final volume this past year titled, Glorious Appearing, Jenkins and LaHaye are far from washed up. Jenkins just cut a deal with Tyndale House Publishers worth a reported eight figures--yes, sports fans, that's somewhere between ten and ninety-nine million dollars. Meanwhile, LaHaye went the secular route and got Bantam Dell to ante up the "widely reported" sum of $45,000,000 for his next four books.)
When I was child attending Wheaton Christian Gramaar School in Wheaton, Illinois, a monstrous dormitory was built on property adjacent to our school. At the time evangelicalism was still lower middle class and humble, as was Wheaton College, its finishing school. But the new dormitory was a harbinger of things to come.
Like nothing else on Wheaton's campus, the new Fischer Dorm had clean lines and gleamed, top to bottom. Its entryways were regal; its basement canteen was filled with the latest vending machines and ping pong tables; the lounges were appointed with modern furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting. But the coup de grace was the private bathroom shared by each suite of two rooms.
Nowadays, Fischer Dorm might not seem as strikingly luxurious as it did back in 1965, but still today the dorms my children have lived in at the three schools they've attended--Taylor, Vanderbilt, and IU--haven't held a candle to Fischer. (And let's not even mention the dorm my son-in-law, "Archie" Ummel, lived in at Taylor--the old and much loved Sammy Morris Hall, torn down in 1998 to make way for something better.)
When Fischer Dorm was completed, the community was invited to an open house. Being alumni, my mother and father noted the change this new dorm indicated in Wheaton's culture and I remember Dad making this comment to his fellow Wheaton alumni: "They ought to hang a sign over the dorm's front doors with the Scripture reference, 2Timothy 2:3 "...endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
I was reminded of Dad's comment this past week while reading of the battle raging among the alumni and parents of the elite Episcopal boarding school in New Hampshire, St. Paul's School. The school's graduates include Senator John Kerry and FBI director, Robert S. Mueller III, so it's clear the school exists to serve blue-bloods.
The fracas is over, among other things, the salary and benefits of...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 20, 2005 - 6:18am
Certain books have had an impact on my life equivalent to the plate tectonic shift that gave birth to December's tsunami. Two such books were the first and
second volumes of the two-volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Iain Murray.
Having grown up among evangelicalism's founders and leaders in Wheaton, Illinois, when I read the account of the London controversy between Lloyd-Jones and Billy Graham in which Lloyd-Jones declined to take any prominent part in Graham's London crusade because of the very public compromises with liberalism Graham was accustomed to make, a new understanding of my heritage and its sins washed over me.
Suddenly I understood my fathers and their friends in a way I'd never understood them before, and I began the very slow process of repenting of such compromises in my own life.
When I read Jesus condemning the scribes and Pharisees, confronting them publicly saying, "You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition" (Matthew 15:6), I knew that my evangelical tradition also had to be repented of. Still, much of that tradition I continue to cling to because it represents a truly biblical and Christ-honoring faith. And one aspect of evangelicalism's traditions that are biblical traditions is the concern for holiness that used to be central to this community.
So then, to return to Billy Graham, evangelicalism's patron saint, and to say something good about him, here's the one Graham quote I've used regularly in my ministry. I honor the man for these commitments related to the fairer sex...
In our local paper, The Herald-Times, a young woman named Arlyn Keith is a Community Columnist. From her picture Ms. Keith seems to be in her mid-twenties and her piece appearing on yesterday's op-ed page is titled, "Rock'n'roll rejects the Bible."
Keith is responding to what she considers the non-news that Jan Wenner's Rolling Stone magazine has refused to run an ad for Today's New International Version, the new Bible put together under the patronage of Rupert Murdoch's News Corps' subsidiary, Zondervan Publishing Company.
Keith yawns as she wonders why Zondervan ever thought readers of Rolling Stone would be their market segment? Acknowledging that this chic Bible has compromised the original text, the better to reach her generation, Keith writes:
I knew that Christian leaders were concerned about the disinterest my generation and those younger than us seem to have with religion, but I just did not ever expect the mountain to come to Mohammed and plead for attention. This latest edition of the Bible aptly named Today's New International Version even features, according to USA Today, a method of translation which is meant to appeal to the 18-34 age group wherein gender terminology in reference to humans is neutral. The "truth" has been made user-friendly and packaged in a politically-correct manner. I am not an avid church-goer myself and am still struggling with my views, but it does seem that some values have been compromised in the process.
Out of the mouths of babes...
After years of hard work trying to convince my family members (owners of Tyndale House Publishers and its own gender-neutered Bible, The New Living Translation), Zondervan's executives (who are presently issuing this latest gender-neutered version called Today's New International Version), and the corporate leaders of the International Bible Society (holder of the copyright on all versions of The New International Version including Today's New International Version) of the false doctrine that is the heart of this work, I despair over their intransigence. And yes, one does begin to wonder what the application of "the love of money (being) the root of all evil" is to this Bible-selling business; or, for that matter, to Wycliffe Bible Translators, mega-churches, missions agencies, seminaries, and my own church's building program?
How lightly we consider our own motives in the light of Scripture's warning, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives" (Proverbs 16:2 NASB95).
No matter how often we explain to them that the secular feminists are correct in their judgment that the Bible is "hopelessly patriarchal," hope springs eternal and these false prophets try once again to clean up God's Word so a modicum of its offense is removed and evangelism moves apace into the twenty-first century.
Over the past couple of years, Christ the Word's Rev. Dr. Andrew Dionne has created a web site called KepttheFaith exposing the assault upon God and His Word these men are carrying out. Church of the Good Shepherd has funded the site and my brother, David, and I have fought this battle arm-in-arm. Go to the site and read and pray. Secularists and seekers such as Keith can treat this matter lightly, easily seeing the charade. But Tyndale House, Zondervan, the International Bible Society, and all the reverend doctors paid to do the bowdlerizing take this matter very seriously seeing their reputations are on the line.
They're right. Were one of them a member of Church of the Good Shepherd, the elders would declare him to be in violation of his membership vow to honor and obey the inerrant Word of God, and call him to repent.
Chesterton nailed it almost a century ago:
It is remarked, "We need a restatement of religion"; and though it has been said thirty-thousand times, it is quite true.
It is also true that those who say it often mean the very opposite of what they say. As I have remarked elsewhere, they very often intend not to restate anything, but to state something else, introducing as many of the old words as possible.
(G. K. Chesterton, The Thing, p. 190, "Some of Our Errors".)
by David and Tim Bayly on February 1, 2005 - 10:05am
Today the full text of Today's New International Version (TNIV) was released to the public. As Zondervan and the International Bible Society take this book to market, remember this new product represents an intentional breaking of their word by both Zondervan and the International Bible Society. Christians ought to keep their word, especially in matters related to His Word.
Remember, also, that this Bible is intentionally inaccurate, unfaithfully rendering thousands of passages in such a way as to obscure or remove the meaning the Holy Spirit inspired. The two clearest manifestations of this unfaithfulness appear in texts where the essential patriarchy of God's created order and the persecution of Jesus Christ by "the Jews" are, both, explicitly communicated by the original Hebrew and Greek text.
The motives of Zondervan and IBS are clear: they wish to protect God from charges of sexism and anti-Semitism. (Here's material related to the sex markings and here's material related to the persecution of Jesus by "the Jews.")
The cost is also clear: those paid to do this work are shrinking from declaring the whole counsel of God and therefore have blood on their hands:
(The Apostle Paul said) "And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God" (Acts 20:25-27).
by David and Tim Bayly on February 18, 2005 - 11:03am
I had never heard of Brian McLaren when a Google search on an entirely different topic pulled up Time Magazine's January 2005 cover story on the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America. But there he was, pastor of the several-hundred member Cedar Ridge Church near Baltimore, author of a book promoting A New Kind of [postmodern, nicer and more friendly] Christian, right in the bosom of the evangelical high priesthood along with Richard Land, Chuck Colson, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, et al.
In the blurb accompanying his picture McLaren was asked his view on homosexual marriage. He answered, "You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there's no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side."
He thinks He's Christ weeping over Jerusalem, Jeremiah weeping over the fall of Judah. What a soft-hearted prince of a fellow. Except that he's suffering from delusions of grandeur because the tears of Christ and Jeremiah went only in one direction. Their tears foresaw destruction and followed dire warning.
Stop crying for others Mr. McLaren. You have more pressing concerns.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 23, 2005 - 6:58am
The New York Times cited World, yesterday, in a piece appearing in the Arts & Leisure section titled, "A Lion King of Kings: Can the Narnia books be turned into a blockbuster without offending one person or another?" Here's the quote:
According to a report in the February 12 issue of the Christian newsweekly World, Mr. Aviv [president of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures marketing arm] assured the gathering (of Christian leaders) that "our goal is to make sure that we make and market the movie so that it has the same significance that the book has had."
The Times piece is about the controversy over whether or not Disney's movie version of Lewis's Narnia Chronicles will, in fact, allow our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrines of Scripture to have "the same significance" in the movie they have in the books. It's anything but a done deal.
Disney has this dilemma:
...the pros at Disney are wrestling with a special challenge: how to sell a screen hero who was conceived as a forthright symbol of Jesus Christ, a redeemer who is tortured and killed in place of a young human sinner and who returns in a glorious resurrection that transforms the snowy landscape of Narnia into a verdant paradise.
That spirituality sets Aslan apart from most of the Disney pantheon and presents the company with a significant dilemma: whether to acknowledge the Christian symbolism and risk alienating a large part of the potential audience, or to play it down and possibly offend the many Christians who count among the book's fan base. (The New York Times, February 20, 2005, p. AR 11.)
I'm just a humble midwesterner, but I wonder whether there might not be experts ready and willing--in fact, eager--to consult with Disney concerning their dilemma...
Someone posted a comment demanding David and I "move on" from Terri Schiavo. We will not.
Those who demand her case be closed have bad consciences and want to think happy thoughts, but our time is not a time for happy thoughts about the present or future of these United States of America. Chief among our sins calling out for God's judgement is the shedding of the blood of innocents. The unborn, the defective newborn, the handicapped, those in a persistent non-communicative state, the feeble, and the elderly--their blood runs deeper by the hour.
Now comes the newest beachhead in our house of slaughter--Terri Schiavo.
So Terri will live on, just as slavery and the Holocaust and the Dreyfus Affair and Baby Doe live on. Those involved in this murder-by-judicial-execution must publicly repent of this bloodshed, but all of us must also repent of our own complicity in the pervasive bloodshed polluting the streets of our fair land.
And what is the Word of the Lord to the Church following Terri's death?
Arguably, the most noteworthy aspect of the national witness of evangelicals in the past few years has been the blockbuster Tyndale House Publishers Left Behind series authored by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. For the first time we were greeted by "our books" as we entered mainstream bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble. The release of each volume was heralded by stacks and stacks of the book standing just inside these bookstores' front doors. And the Christian Marketing Association reports sales of the Left Behind series and products have now exceeded $1,000,000,000.
But of course, the series is nothing more than pure escapism centered on the theme of the certain safety of Christians as the Day of the Lord arrives. Our Lord constantly warned His disciples of the dangers of the Day of His return, but there is little fear left in evangelical theology...
In a previous post, Woe to Those at Ease in Zion, I argued evangelical Americans are "at ease in Zion;" that the $1,000,000,000 in sales of the Left Behind books and related paraphernalia is evidence of that ease; that it is contrary to Scripture for Christians to anticipate the Second Coming of our Lord with no fear; and that the bloodshed that consumes our land, most recently evidenced by the judicial execution of Terri Schiavo, ought to make us tremble at our knowledge of God's holiness and justice and the prospects for our nation.
In response to my post, the case has been made that Christians are to look forward with joy to the Second Coming; that evangelical Christians are, in fact, being faithful as salt and light in these United States; and "that it is unreasonable to claim that popular evangelicalism in America is not bearing fruits in concrete political action."
Well, of course "concrete political action" has never been my barometer of Christians being salt and light, although clearly it is one part of it. When our nation slides towards Sodom, it's my conviction that slide has much more to do with Christians being unfaithful at church and home than our failure to vote, to write letters, or to run for office. In other words, my central conviction concerning our nation's decline, while claiming a majority of her citizens to be born again, is that we have failed to carry our profession of faith into a self-sacrificing confession of faith.
And in this unfaithfulness we pastors have led the way. Our pulpit and pastoral ministries have not been characterized by what the Apostle Paul said characterized his own: namely, that we never failed to say anything to our sheep that God commanded us to say; that we warned our sheep day and night with tears; that we were faithful guardians, particularly against the false shepherds who arise from our own numbers within the church; and that the blood of none of our sheep is on our hands (Acts 20).
So let me ask: does Amos have any usefulness to us today, and if so is that use only for unbelievers? What is the meaning of this prophesy being addressed to those "at ease in Zion?" And if I'm to be granted that those "in Zion" in the time of Amos were God's covenant people, is there something about the New Covenant that justifies God's covenant people in the Chuch of Jesus Christ dismissing every failure, warning, and punishment of God's covenant people in the Old Testament? Has not the Holy Spirit said to us that all "these things (Old Testament failures and punishments) happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall" (1Corinthians 10:11,12).
Although I'm sure there are many ready to make the argument, it simply cannot seriously be maintained that the world of evangelicals is not at ease in Zion...
Robinson Denies Suggesting that Jesus Was a Homosexual
Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, has denied reports that he recently implied that Jesus Christ was a homosexual in comments made at Christ Episcopal Church of Hamilton and Wenham in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. While speaking at the Network parish, Robinson answering a question posed in a discussion forum, pointed out various facets about the life of Christ -- that he mainly hung around men, had a disciple that he loved, but stopped short of actually stating that Jesus was a homosexual. A number of people who have listened to audio of his remarks believe that he was implying that was the case. Readers can
judge for themselves as the audio can be downloaded at: [Note from Tim Bayly: the promised link was missing.]
+ Rev. Mr. Charles A. Collins, Jr., 289 Hastings Dr., Goose Creek, SC 29445
Could anyone seriously be surprised at Robinson's innuendo? A thief thinks everyone steals.
Christ Church is in South Hamilton, MA, where my brothers, David and Nathan, and I attended seminary. Among the many who made Christ Church their church home at that time were Lars and Elisabeth (Elliot) Gren and Richard Lovelace (of Dynamics of Spiritual Life fame).
Prior to his conversion to Roman Catholicism, Christ Church was also the church home of Elisabeth Elliot's brother, Tom Howard (of Christ the Tiger fame). One happy day soon after Tom converted to Roman Catholicism, I was delighted to purchase a mint condition copy of J. C. Ryle's classic, Holiness. I found it in Christ Church's resale shop with Tom Howard's name carefully inscribed inside the front cover.
Dad used to think it marvelously ironic that creationist Wheaton College was the recipient of a magnificently-preserved ice age mastodon dug from the clay pits of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He took glee in pointing out the mastodon in its full, standing-in-a-diorama-in-Wheaton's-science-building splendor to visitors from out of town.
In the same way, this sad tale rises above the level of mundane lesbian jealousy with the recent inclusion of a chapter by the attempted murderess in an anthology on Discovering Biblical Equality published by InterVarsity Press.
Ironically, Judy Brown's Alford plea conviction for the attempted murder of Rev. Ted Smart came nearly a year prior to IVP's late 2004/early 2005 publication of Discovering Biblical Equality containing her contribution titled, "God, Gender and Biblical Metaphor."
The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities provides this description of Discovering Biblical Equality,
The full-scale complementarian critique of evangelical feminism, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, has gone unanswered for well over a decade. Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothius, with the able assistance of Gordon D. Fee, have worked to redress this lacuna by assembling a team of twenty-six evangelical egalitarians to produce Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy....
While the essays seek to promote the egalitarian point of view and to critique the hierarchical point of view, they do so with charity and respect, and work to promote dialogue, all the while encouraging all to celebrate God-given gender complementarity. Among many contentions, the book's authors hold that the affirmation of egalitarianism need not deny the complementarity of male and female and that affirmation of the complementarity of the sexes need not imply a hierarchical relation between them.
For more on the connection with IVP read here and here.
Salem Commonwealth Attorney Fred King says of the crime: "This is the most unusual case we have ever handled."
IVP has now withdrawnDiscovering Biblical Equality from distribution saying it will release the book without the chapter by Judy Brown later this year.
Apparently, though IVP can see the occasional tree, it's blind to the forest. And to think that Dad was a founder of IVP....
Earlier this week I received a letter from a Mr. Lauren Libby who identified himself as "Senior Vice President" of the Navigators, a parachurch group that Mr. Libby says has grown "from a fledgling effort to what it is today: a worldwide ministry in 112 countries with 4,014 staff of 61 nationalities."
The reason for Mr. Libby's letter? He closes the letter as follows:
I'm writing today to ask you to help us to tell others about the work of The Navigators.
That's why I'm delighted to send you these special notecards as a reminder that we are to share Christ's light with the rest of the world. I pray that you won't set these cards aside, but will use them as a tool to encourage others.
I've enclosed a reply form to allow you to order more of these beautiful cards. Each package of 15 cards and matching envelopes is available for a suggested donation of $12 or more. If you need additional packs, we'll send you two for a gift of $24. With each order you enable The Navigators to reach even more people with God's love and saving grace.
May the Lord richly bless you as you walk in His light.
Mr. Libby is the chief operating officer of The Navigators which, in 1999, was the one hundred and fifty-ninth largest charity in the world. At that time, Mr. Libby was pleased with his organization's receipts. In the November 4, 1999 issue of the The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Libby was guoted saying:
With the creation of capital for so many Americans, the last three or four years have been the best time for non-profit fund raising in over 25 years--for as long as I've been in the field.
So what exactly are "these beautiful cards" Mr. Libby enclosed with his letter?
Well, they're small notecards with one of the paintings of Thomas Kinkade on the front.
A good reader calls to our attention the latest John Deere die-cast tractor released with a sculpture of Thomas Kinkade sitting on the tractor seat. My good friend, Barry Hein, collects John Deere die-cast model tractors and I love his collection. Maybe I'm just dyspeptic, but I do hope he won't add this one to his collection.
Because we have opposed so strongly the emphasis on works in the Roman Catholic view of justification, we must be honest in admitting Protestantism's often-greater failure in this same regard.
One of the young deacons in my church writes today in an email to his fellow deacons:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--  not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."
Can anyone honestly say that Rome teaches the gospel that Paul taught? No, they have added to it, therefore it is different. It is distorted because Christ's blood is not viewed as the sole means of reconciliation between sinners and God. It is contrary to the true gospel message which teaches that Hell awaits those who are unrepentant. I could go on but I won't....
I suggest that some stalwart Protestants reason with the Catholics on Sunday after church, perhaps greet them in their parking lot as they are ready to leave and share lovingly the gospel they lack. What do you think? Too much?
John, The Part Time Zealot (using fictitious names)
To which a fellow deacon responds:
Just wondering: do Arminians teach what Paul taught? Why not go to (a variety of tree) Creek while we're at it?
If we are honest, we must admit as Protestants that what the Reformers viewed, to a man, as the baseline defective principle of Roman Catholicism is so entrenched within Protestantism we are blind to it. Typical Protestant and Evangelical theology is little better than Roman Catholic. Theology which makes the human will sovereign in salvation is Roman, no matter where it is taught.
The reason so many Protestants have so easily and happily made the transition to Rome in recent years is that Protestant soteriology has devolved, in many cases, to Roman soteriology. We have thrown in the towel on the bondage of the will, on depravity, on the sovereign grace of God.
I wrote several weeks ago, "The difference between Willow Creek and St. Joe's RCC isn't that great once you get past the liturgy--and liturgically St. Joe's has it all over Willow Creek."
But there is another advantage to the Roman Church: St. Joe's RCC often speaks more clearly about sin and guilt than the average Evangelical church. St. Joe's may lack the answer, but at least it diagnoses the problem with an honesty you will rarely find at the local Willow Creek clone--or many other Protestant churches for that matter.
For most of the 1990s I habitually denied I was an Evangelical. "I used to be an Evangelical," I would say, "but now I'm just a fundamentalist." Or later, "I used to be an Evangelical, but now I'm Reformed.... Yeah, I grew up in an interdenominational Evangelical church in Wheaton, but I'm no longer an Evangelical."
Of course, that was when Evangelicalism still had a center, loosely defined by a variety of parachurch organizations such as Christianity Today, Wheaton College, Campus Crusade/InterVarsity, Christian publishers, Focus on the Family....
My rejection of Evangelicalism was never a repudiation of all things evangelical. The term "evangelical" had been applied to the Reformed faith for centuries prior to Harold Ockenga's appropriation of the term to distinguish non-fundamentalist conservative Protestantism from fundamentalism in the 1930s.
The Reformed faith was "evangelical" before it was "Reformed." The Protestant Reformation was utterly evangelical in its return to the euaggelion, or gospel, of salvation by faith, not works. Luther himself claimed to be "evangelical" before the world knew him as "Reformed". Luther named the church he founded in Germany the Evangelische Kirke, or "Evangelical Church."
Within the English-speaking world, the evangelical faith in the 1600s included the Puritans, the English separatists, the Presbyterians. In the 1700s the evangelical faith included Wesley, Whitefield and Edwards: the wonder of the Great Awakening. In the 1800s evangelical faith produced the Second Great Awakening, Princeton's theology, men like Dabney, Hodge, Alexander.
All these strains fed into 20th century American Evangelicalism. By claiming no longer to be "Evangelical" I was stating my departure from the 20th century American branch of Protestantism known as "Evangelicalism," not the glorious theology of the evangelical Church of the Reformation. I was reacting against Evangelicalism's parachurch focus, its loose (and increasingly Arminian) theology, its woeful sexual ethics and theology, its pride and wealth, its celebrity culture. I considered myself Reformed, outside the orbit of Evangelicalism.
It was fairly easy to live outside Evangelicalism in the Toledo I moved to in 1988. With several exceptions (FNBS and several godly CMA churches) Evangelicalism bypassed Toledo on its trans-continental trek from Philadelphia through Wheaton to California (and back to Colorado Springs). We didn't have to worry about the increasing heterodoxy of InterVarsity nationally in Toledo. The local InterVarsity chapter died about the time I arrived. We didn't have to oppose the "Botany-Geography" seeker church scourge. Toledo didn't get a proper creek until six years ago.
I was simply Reformed. I identified more with Doug Wilson and Moscow, Idaho, than Wheaton; with Banner of Truth and Martyn Lloyd-Jones more than Tyndale House or Bill Hybels.
And now, in 2005 at age 46, for reasons I will explain shortly, I want to revisit Evangelicalism. But to my horror I find my childhood home destroyed. All Evangelicalism's children have despised her, fleeing her for Orthodoxy, for Roman Catholicism, for Anglicanism, for Willow Creeks and Cedar Hills, for Reformed churches and Lutheranism.
Sturdily submitting to his fifteen minutes of fame this past week in the alleged kidnapping of Georgia bride-to-be Jennifer Wilbanks was Alan Jones, assistant pastor of Peachtree Corners Baptist Church in Duluth, GA.
From time to time I'll post pieces on Dad Taylor's life and ministry. Blogger Phil Johnson, a pastor in Salem Communication's hometown, Santa Clarita, with a most-excellently-named blog, Pyromaniac, just posted this piece. Also, here's a piece taken from the Wheaton College archives, with links.
Mark Noll, interviewed in Christianity Today about a new book he's authored, "The Rise of Evangelicalism," says of Evangelicalism:
Almost universally, what evangelicalism has been great at doing is bringing life back to cold religious form. But, evangelicalism is a parasitic movement. The great evangelical leaders are not theoreticians of institutions. Some of them are very good theologians on questions of personal salvation. They're not theologians of culture, they're not theologians of society. There are problems with the Christian outreach that is just the theology of society, but there are also problems when the individual attention is so strong that culture and society is lost sight of.
Why people continue to pay Dr. Noll to describe Evangelicalism remains a mystery. He's long cast himself in the role of Evanglicalism's arbiter elegantium. But as he so frequently reminds us, there's little of elegance about Evangelicalism. We're simple people, easily led. And for the masses there is the indefatigable Ron Sider who has faithfully plucked our consciences since before Dr. Noll received his PhD. What more can Dr. Noll provide?
Attending church while on vacation is hard. It's harder still when churches don't publish accurate service times. Twice in the past year we found churches via the internet only to learn that service times listed on their web pages were wrong. Inexcusable. A Southern Baptist church in Colorado three weeks ago not only had an inaccurate time on its web page, its yellow-page listing was also incorrect. Last fall a PCA church in Virginia also listed thirty-minute-late service times.
No visitor wants to enter a church half-way through the service. If a church can't bother to keep such details accurate on the internet, it should take down its web site.
Three weeks ago I told Cheryl--who still wanted to attend the Southern Baptist church despite the service having started thirty minutes previously--that she and the kids could go there but I would either not go to church that morning or find a church I could enter on time.
I dropped them off at the front door and started driving out the parking lot, but my conscience got the better of me.... I parked in the back and began walking to the front door. (It helped that two more full cars pulled in just after us, evidently equally misled as to service times.)
I hadn't gone a hundred yards when Cheryl and the kids came walking back. They'd found available seats in the sanctuary few and scattered. No greeter had greeted them. No usher had sought to find space for them. None of those in attendance who saw them looking for space offered seats to them. So, reluctantly, they left.
We had almost precisely the same experience in a PCA church (save our squeezing into two adjacent pews and staying for the service) in Virginia last fall.
Churches must care for those who are new to them. It's inexcusable for visitors to feel they're tolerated rather than embraced--almost an offense against the Gospel. To publish inaccurate service times is bad enough, but then to fail to greet late-arriving families or to arrange seating for them verges on arrogance. It says that this is a church which doesn't need or care to receive visitors.
God preserve Christ the Word from ever becoming so self-satisfied or ingrown that we would fail to give up our seats to latecoming visitors.
After failing to find a seat at a Southern Baptist Church on vacation two weeks ago, we went to our second choice, a church ten miles further down the road which advertised on its web site membership in the IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churches of America). Nor was it merely a passing mention on the web site. The pastor of the church also informed me in casual conversation that the church was a member of the IFCA.
So I was prepared for a variety of possibilities as I entered the building. The one thing I was not prepared for was what I found--a typical evangelical church with absolutely none of the fundamentalist iron about it.
We were greeted warmly by members of the church; a children's Sunday School teacher who heard us parking our car by her classroom put her head out her door to see if we had children the age of her class. The sermon by a visiting pastor was good. But I left our morning with these good people wondering what "fundamentalist" means in 2005. Overall, the church seemed indistinguishable from an average Evangelical church--save for music 10-20 years behind today's contemporary worship music.
Three electrified guitars (one a bass guitar) accompanied singing along with a piano. A large, casually dressed choir--jeans for many of the men and women--sang choruses with the congregation from the front. I seem to recall the service ending with a hymn though no hymns were included in the order of service or the songsheet insert. Every choral selection was concluded to applause. Taped accompaniment was used for a solo.
It struck me that this "fundamentalist" church seemed little different from an average 1980s or early 90s Evangelical church.
Worship was extremely low key. Announcements took up more time than prayers--of which there were two before the sermon. Both prayers were brief, offered extemporaneously by members of the congregation called on by the pastor: one an invocation, the other a prayer before the offering.
No Scripture was read in the service save the sermon passage. In essence, the service consisted of music and sermon, with an offering between. Here's the order of worship:
Call to Worship (the chorus, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord)
Songs of Praise (Almighty, I Sing Praises, I Worship You, Almighty God)
Pastoral Welcome (further announcements)
Choir (He is There)
Song of Commitment (Grace Alone)
Testimony in Song (solo to accompaniment tape without title in bulletin)
Dress was indistinguishable from an average Evangelical church today. The song leader was the only man in the building wearing both coat and tie (myself included). The pastor wore a tie. Most other men wore open shirts. Women dressed casually, about half wore dresses. Young people looked like average public school students.
A modern translation was used by the visiting pastor--and people were urged to follow along in their pew Bibles. Page numbers for the passage were given.
I left with gratitude for the warmth of the church and the sermon. But it struck me that if this is modern fundamentalism, it's simply tardy Evangelicalism. My uncle and aunt, longtime IFCA church members, were not tardy Evangelicals. Their little church in Pittsburgh had seen white flight take place in the surrounding neighborhood decades before, but they continued in attendance, seeking to reach out to their new black neighbors with weekly door-to-door evangelism up till my uncle's death at 86 two years ago. They continued to hire young graduates of Bob Jones University as their pastors even when they were down to two dozen worshippers. And, to the best of my knowledge, my uncle's firm but irenic insistence on the King James Version remains church policy two years after his death.
In the end, I was left with the impression--from the church's literature and web site--that IFCA membership in this church's case amounted only to subscription to a pre-millennial view of eschatology and an apparently unpracticed stipulation of the need for separation.
I had long regarded IFCA-type fundamentalism as carrying with it a certain flint-like determination in areas of worship and practice. So it was almost surreal--and slightly disappointing--to enter an IFCA church for the first time in decades and find not the slightest hint of iron, only a strong odor of Evangelicalism's past. No dress code. No insistence on any Bible version. No quibbling over guitars. No formality in worship. No reading of the Word. All music, save the sermon.
If this is modern fundamentalism, fundamentalism has finally been completely subsumed into Evangelicalism.
I read a post the other day which suggested that the high priesthood of Evangelicalism is switching from the counseling profession to the philosophers, led by men such as Alvin Plantinga, Norm Geisler and Doug Groothuis.
I think the author is right in his description of a changing of the guard in Evangelicalism. Philosophy is overtaking psychology as the discipline of choice for those wishing to cast a religious bridle over humanism. But the effects of this change are proving even less salubrious than Evangelicalism's decades-long infatuation with pscyhology and counseling.
I have seen more blasphemy in the name of philosophy over the last several years than I ever saw as a result of counseling. Counseling diminishes the Word, enshrining psychological theory and self-esteem in the place of sin. But philosophy too often makes the human mind the judge of Scripture, thereby placing human reason over God.
I'll never forget the time several years ago when, during a Calvin's Institutes study session, a young PhD philosophy student told us that: a) All logic proceeds from God; b) God is therefore essentially logical; c) God cannot use illogic; d) mystery is illogical; e) any accounting for evil that posits mystery is thus false, and; f) therefore, God commits evil because God is sovereign.
This man, I learned, was the graduate of a reputedly Christian undergraduate school where the chairman of the philosophy department has for years taken in students who appear to live by faith and love the Lord and sent out proud deists who worship a god of logic in their stead.
The wise Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks of the value of philosophy in his little classic, What Is an Evangelical?:
Then I come to another characteristic [of true Evangelicalism]. This may very well be a highly controversial one, but in my estimate it is extremely important. It is, and I put it dogmatically and bluntly, that the evangelical distrusts reason and particularly reason in the form of philosophy....
I suggest to you that nothing is more important in our present situation than just this one particular point. Philosophy has always been the cause of the church going astray, for philosophy means, ultimately, a trusting to human reason and human understanding. The philosopher wants to encompass all truth; he wants to categorize and explain everything, and that is why there are no more important passages in the Scripture for us at the present time than the First Epistle to the Corinthians, starting in chapter I, at verse 17, and going right the way through to the end of chapter 4, with especial reference to chapter 2. The apostle's whole contention in those chapters is that things were going wrong in Corinth because they were beginning to bring back faith in human wisdom, philosophy; and his point is to show that this is diametrically opposed to the preaching of the gospel. He says he has become a fool for Christ's sake: `If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise' (I Cor. 3:18). Here `a fool' means that you do not trust to philosophy and to human wisdom. This is really a most important matter.
Martin Luther used to refer to `that old witch, Lady Reason', and those of you who are familiar with his writings know how he constantly emphasized this point, that reason is an old witch. He was concerned about this, of course, because it was of the essence of his argument against Rome. It is true still that the trouble with Roman Catholicism is that they say that they believe the Bible. Let us grant that they do, and that they are quite sincere in saying that, but what, then, is the trouble? The trouble is that they have added Aristotelian philosophy on to their belief in the Bible, and that ultimately they are interpreting the Bible in terms of Aristotelian philosophy. That is the great characteristic of the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, and it was as the result of this that the evangel, the true gospel, had become entirely hidden. So it is not surprising that Luther should have contended so strongly against this very matter, and this is not, by any means, confined to Luther either.
There has been a variety of responses to my short post and long quotation from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the dangers of philosophy. If I may be so bold as to characterize my opponents, I view them as falling into three camps.
First, there is the view well expressed by John who asks whether I'm opposing all intellectual discourse and arguing for a dichotomized view of religious versus secular truth. John suggests that the works of Jonathan Edwards or Augustine might not have been written if Martyn Lloyd-Jones' (and my own) views of the danger of scholarship held sway in their days. John also suggests that several of the philosophers mentioned in my original post have been champions of orthodoxy.
I disagree little with John's overall thrust. However, at several points I would diverge from him. To begin with, Edwards and Augustine may be viewed as philosophers by some but their approach was fundamentally theological. They began with Scripture and argued from there. They did not start with philosophical theory. They did not try to force Scripture through constructs of the human mind.
Click the "Continue reading" link below to follow Martyn Lloyd-Jones' thoughts on "The Place of Reason" in his IFES address published as What Is An Evangelical? by Banner of Truth Trust.
Lloyd-Jones goes on from criticizing those who place reason before the Word to describing the proper place of reason in the Christian life. This may or may not help those who viewed the quotation from Lloyd-Jones in my previous post as unnecessarily--or dangerously--anti-intellectual. At any rate, I offer it here as further explanation of my own views. I align precisely with Lloyd-Jones in this.
David Talcott, a PhD student in philosophy at Indiana University has written on the relationship between philosophy and Christianity on his blog. Talcott expresses from a philosopher's point of view precisely the concerns I've sought to express in my posts and quotes from Lloyd-Jones.
...I think Christian philosophers take far too cavalier of an attitude toward Scripture. They tend to form their theological and metaphysical views through philosophical argumentation rather than close exegesis. They tend to see Scripture as pliable, bendable. Or sometimes they think that there is such a diversity of interpretations of Scripture that it must be impossible to settle the dispute on purely exegetical grounds (ironic for a philosopher to hold this sort of view).
It's an excellent post from a philosophy student I've grown to respect for his underlying commitment to Scripture.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 13, 2005 - 2:42pm
It's been extremely hot this past week. When we first exited O'Hare a week ago, the heat was a welcome relief from the cool weather we'd had in Africa and England. But within a few minutes it became oppressive and it hasn't let up since.
The other day when I got in the car the heat brought to mind our Lord's account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in the afterlife, and how the Rich Man in Hell cried out for water, but could have none. For a few minutes I meditated on what an awful place hell is--a place where the heat is unbearable and the thirst can never be quenched.
Reputable evangelicals such as John Stott deny the eternity of hell torments and that is understandable. It's one of the most difficult doctrines to submit to in all of Scripture. But as Harry Blamires wrote in his classic, The Christian Mind, if we're going to start tearing difficult passages out of Scripture, shouldn't we start with the one that's always been more offensive than any other:
(Jesus) was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luke 9:23-25).
For men tempted to take Stott's shortcut and play with universalism and annihilationism, I highly recommend Jonathan Edward's sermon, "The Eternity of Hell Torments." Commenting on the Biblical account of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19ff., Edwards exclaims over men like Stott:
It is strange how men will go directly against so plain and full revelations of Scripture, as to suppose notwithstanding all these things, that the eternal punishment threatened against the wicked signifies no more than annihilation.
Incidentally, for several reasons (including that, contrary to His habit in telling parables, our Lord actually names the central character in this account, 'Lazarus') John Calvin believed that this account was not a parable, but real history that Jesus knew from Heaven.
Today, my daughter Hannah and I were driving out in the country and we stopped at a farm stand. The stand's attendant was in her sixties and we waited while she finished her conversation with a customer of a similar age. Of course, the topic was the weather--specifically,the unbearable heat. The customer commented, "Preachers oughta tell their congregations tomorrow that this heat gives you an idea what hell's like."
Prayer: O Father, Creator of both Heaven and Hell, give us a living faith in the blood and righteousness of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that we might escape the fires of hell and be brought safely, along with all who love you with an undying love, into your presence where there is fulness of joy forevermore. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 17, 2005 - 7:21am
On another World magazine blog site, Zeitgeist, Jack Crabtree writes:
I traveled to Africa this summer with my friend, Earle Craig, a staff pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Costa Mesa California. We were invited by Dr. Moffat Zimba, president of Northrise University in Ndola, Zambia. I taught an intensive two-week course on Romans. Earle taught an intensive course on the Pentateuch. The ministry students at Northrise have learned their Bible largely from TBN and much of what the apostle Paul was saying in the book of Romans was radically different from what they had absorbed through Christian culture. What struck me was their response. I discovered, to my delight, that I was in a room full of biblicists, authentic biblicists. Not just people who liked to say that the Bible was their ultimate authority, but people who actually believed it and practiced it. If they were persuaded that the biblical text was teaching what I was proposing, they were prepared to change their view of God, man, and the cosmos in order to have their views conform to what the Bible teaches. As I teach here in America, it is not unusual for people to respond, "That can't be right! I've never heard that before." The objection is not, "That can't be right! That's NOT what the Bible says" (followed by an argument for why the Bible is saying something different). Rather, the objection is, "That can't be right because we have never heard that interpretation before." Or even, "That can't be right because WE don't believe that." Americans ground their beliefs in culture and tradition more than they do in the Bible. Too often we are not prepared to let the Bible correct and stand in judgment over our particular Christian subculture and tradition. We prefer to live in the safety of some community consensus. In contrast, these Zambians I was with seemed genuinely prepared to alter their lives by what the Bible was saying to them.
So what's the likelihood that two of Zeitgeist's bloggers spent time in Ndola, Zambia this summer training future pastors? Well, my wife, Mary Lee, and our two youngest children, Hannah and Taylor, spent the first two weeks of July in Ndola while visiting our dear friends, David and Terri Wegener. David teaches at the Theological College of Central Africa and I've visited him twice in the past fourteen months. During the visits I've taught classes at TCCA, preached in their chapel services, and preached at area churches.
The work of TCCA is impressive and, in a heartbeat, I'd encourage African men to prepare for the ministry there rather than leaving the continent to be trained in the US, for instance. TCCA is lead by an able principal, Joseph Simfukwe, who has served in the pastorate and directs TCCA with a wise and godly pastor's heart.
But on to the matter of Trinity Broadcasting Network and the authority of Scripture in Zambia as compared to the United States.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 18, 2005 - 10:16am
One of the great deceptions perpetrated by the parachurch movement upon God's people over the past century has been the parachurch's focus on individual relationships to God at the expense of the foundational corporate relationship to God that inaugurates and sustains the Christian life.
The parachurch can never claim for itself the mantle of "Bride of Christ." That beloved relationship to God belongs only to the Church. So it has responded by focusing on individuals: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life...
The problem is that God does not have a wonderful plan for individual human lives. He has a wonderful plan for Zion, for the Bride of Christ, for the Church, and individual lives come into that wonderful plan by incorporation into the Bride, not as individual, atomistic Christians.
God speaks of His love for Zion:
Zech. 8:1-4 I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am zealous for her... I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the Holy Mountain... Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age and the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
The Christian's privilege is to live in Zion. Because we live in the city God loves and continually returns His affections to, our boys and girls will play joyfully in Zion's streets and our old men and women will sit in peace.
Our privilege, as children of God, is to be numbered among the citizens of Zion. God continually reminds us of His love for Zion in His Word:
On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
the Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah
Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush--
"This one was born there," they say.
And of Zion it shall be said, "This one and that one were born in her";
for the Most High himself will establish her.
The Lord records as he registers the peoples,
"This one was born there." Selah
Singers and dancers alike say,
"All my springs are in you.
At the end of time, God will part His people from the rest of mankind by declaring of those He loves, "Born in Zion."
"This one was born there," He will say as He registers the people. He won't say, "This one has an individual, personal relationship to me involving my having a wonderful plan for his life and so I take him as mine." He says, "Born in Zion. Citizen of Jerusalem. Part of the body of Christ, the Bride He purchased."
In the last days, Scripture tells us, the mountain of the House of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains and will be raised above the hills and all the nations will stream to it.
Until we understand the love of God for Zion, we are in danger of the parachurch idolatry of making self the center of God's will and love. Yes God loves men. Yes He has a wonderful plan for our lives--if, and only if, we are first part of Zion.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 29, 2005 - 4:13pm
My gratitude to sister Deborah for the last ten years of the New Yorker. The New Yorker, once you get past the lead editorials (a sad addition of the last few years) is the source of the best magazine-length journalism going in the United States.
Take for instance the recent profile of Billy and Franklin Graham... Few Evangelical magazines have done as good a job of describing the decisions and alliances Billy made, and how they shaped Evangelicalism. If you're a fundamentalist, you'll feel perhaps a bit vindicated by the article. If you're an Evanglical, you'll probably scratch your head at the references to Machen and Ockenga. If you're Reformed, you'll wish you were Tim Keller.
Sorry, you've got to go to the library for the full article, but here is a precis from the New Yorker to get you interested.