Another exercise in discernment: please join this work. Resistance is not futile.
In the godly, fear and love embrace.
Dear readers, my brother, David, and I have often written here that our work on this blog is an extension of our calling to serve as shepherds of God's flock. And although we recognize this calling is primarily to particular congregations in Toledo and Bloomington, we approach this blog as an extension of our local ministry and work to serve as shepherds here, also. In fact, a high proportion of our readers are present or past members of our congregations. Whether the medium is the telephone, E-mail, church newsletters, or blogs, David and I are working to correct, encourage, and rebuke, with great patience.
At times we give in to the temptation to waste these words on inconsequential matters, but we hope not too often. Seeing the title of my recent post, "The World Cup, racism, and the reprobate," some likely wondered why I was squandering time on soccer? But the post wasn't really about soccer, but rather the sin of racism, and the failure of pastors and elders who connive at this sin in their congregations.
Why this lengthy preamble?
Here is a link to a piece I believe to be terribly dangerous. I've considered whether it's too dangerous to be circulated, but I think we need to read it. It's a sermon by Lutheran scholar Marcus Borg, titled "The Character of God," given at Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 24, 2000.
Professor Borg is leading the souls he's teaching in a liberal and academic context to a place that is similar to the place Covenant Theological Seminary graduate and PCA pastor, Greg Johnson, takes us in his piece , "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt: The Rare Beauty of Weakness Christianity." Sure, Pastor Johnson uses terminology and arguments that would appeal to conservative reformed, rather than liberal Lutheran, academic types. But both pieces, I believe, lead souls to presume on God's grace and allow no place for the fear of God...
How could two men from such different contexts lead us to the same error? One is reformed and committed to a high view of Scripture while the other is Lutheran, a member of the Jesus Seminar, and denies the physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Do they have anything in common?
Yes. In these works both men have served as pawns in Satan's hands, borgs who carry out the task of assimilating all men in religion's grand project of liberation from the wrath of God. And the Evil One's conspiracy has spread across Christendom creating the strangest bedfellows imaginable. It is preached and taught by liberal PC(USA), but also conservative PCA Presbyterians; by liberal ELCA, but also conservative Missouri Synod Lutherans. And amazingly, go among Moody, Dallas, and Grace dispensationalists and you'll find them promoting it, also. And when Zane Hodges got a hold of it, the plutonium core went critical.
So now, dear brothers and sisters, have at it. Please read this piece and try to assemble the parts so that, no matter our denominational heritage, we may recognize the poison and expose it. Write up your critique, posting it here as a comment, and I will love you for it. Answer the questions:
What are the similarities between the arguments made by Pastor Johnson and Professors Borg and Hodges? And...
Is there an antidote that can stretch the seemingly huge distance between the Religious Studies Department of Indiana University, the Divinity School at Vanderbilt, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Covenant Theological Seminary?
And keep in mind the Holy Spirit's exhortation in Hebrews:
Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. (Hebrews 5:11-6:9)
(Deep appreciation to Pastor Dan Reuter for pointing me to the Borg sermon and its similarity to Johnson's piece; and also to Pastor Dave Curell for the Trekkie hooks.)