Archive | January, 2009

Understanding Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses

New Elective for The Theology Program Starts Feb 16

A course examining the religions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) as examples of contemporary heretical religions that purport to be Bible-believing forms of Christianity. Students will become conversant with the religions’ history, organization, claims, doctrines, and practices. Special attention will be given to addressing the most common objections these groups present to the historic teachings of evangelicalism. This course will meet Monday nights, 10:00—11:30 p.m. Eastern time, for eight straight weeks, beginning on February 16, 2009, and finishing on April 6, 2009.

Cost: $100

Enroll Now!

Questions? Need a scholarship? Contact Carrie:

carrie@reclaimingthemind.org

Best of Parchment and Pen (1): Theological Pick-Up Lines NOT to Use

Over the coming weeks I am going to post what have been the most popular posts here on Parchment and Pen over the last three years. (No particular order).

Top Theological Pick-Up Lines NOT to Use:

20. “I am not overweight. The word ‘glory’ in Hebrew is kabod which according to HALOT literally means ‘heaviness.’ The Bible also says that we are to reflect God’s glory. Therefore, I am just doing what the Bible says.”

19. “Looking at you makes me reconsider preterism, because you are heaven on earth.”

18. “Paul said that it was better to marry than to burn. Therefore, I am under God’s mandate to marry you.”

17. “Here, let me take care of those tithes.”

16. “You may not have chosen me, but I have chosen you.”

15. “I could not help but notice you were exegeting me instead of the text during the sermon.”

14.”Your name must be grace, because you are irresistible.”

13. ”There are six things that motivate me to talk to you, yea seven that turned my head.”

12. “Until this moment, I thought I had the gift of singleness.”

11. During communion say, “Can I get you another drink.”

10. “The Bible says that God is not concerned with outer appearance . . . neither should you.”

9. “The Good Book said that I might be visited by angels unaware, but something must be wrong with my interpretation, because I am perfectly aware of you.”

8. “I noticed you crying during alter call, can I help?”

7. While giving her a TULIP say, ”This Totally depraved person has been Unconditionally drawn to you, Limiting himself to your Irresistible beauty that is Persevering beyond all others.”

6.  “God may be the bread of life, but you are the butter.”

5. “The site of you leaves me apophatic.”

4. “Well, gouge out my eyes and cut off my hands. If I hang around you much longer, I won’t have any limbs left.”

3. “You must have missed The Fall line, because you are lookin’ righteous.”

2. Sing this to the tune of George Strait’s “Chair”: “Excuse me, but I think you’ve got my rib.”

1. “Are you homo or homoi?”

So What's the Point?

The other day while on Facebook, I saw a status update of one my facebook friends proclaiming the goodness of God and how He will grant us the desires of our heart.  I confess my reaction was tinged with some cynicism as I reflected on my own desires that have seemingly been ignored despite earnest, sincere and rightly (or at least I believe) motivated prayers for God to move in a particular situation in my life.  And these are prayers that I have prayed for a good while now, believing that God does hear, does care and is concerned.  Although admittedly my emotional response to delay would seek to refute this at times.

What is even more troubling is that as I pray for God’s will to be done in my life, there are no guarantees that these prayers will be answered.  Even though Matthew and Luke  record Jesus as saying that a snake would not be offered for the fish that is requested, implying that if we present a particular request then we should expect a response corresponding to the nature of that request.  Naturally, this is not a blanket prescription for expecting prayers that are not aligned with God’s mandates in context of the whole counsel of Scripture.  The contexts of these passages also suggests that the gift of the Spirit is what Jesus had in mind and not necessarily a license for a prayer free-for-all.  But even with these restrictions, there is an encouragement to approach God with our requests but those requests are tempered by the sovereign will and reign of God, which may not produce the outcome we desire. Continue Reading →

Why I am Not Charismatic (Part 7): Building a Theology of the Sign Gifts

I have said that there is no compelling reason to say that the Bible teaches the so-called supernatural sign gifts have ceased. I have also said and demonstrated that the history of the church evidences a de facto cessation of the sign gifts. As well, I have said that, despite being open to the gifts, my personal experience is lacking with regard to any of these gifts, either through direct or indirect experience.

Because of this, I would say that the only responsible position for me to hold right now is that of a de facto cessationist. In sum, this is why I am not a charismatic.

Some have objected to my beliefs citing what they suppose to be an inconsistency.  While admitting that the Bible does not present any compelling evidence that the supernatural sign gifts have ceased, I am still not a  charismatic. Why is this? Isn’t the Bible, not personal or ecclesiatical experience, my ultimate guide?

The answer is yes, the Bible is my ultimate guide. It is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. If church history or “Michael history” says one thing and the Bible says another, then I (in theory) go with the Scriptures.

However…

While I did say that the Scriptures do not present any compelling evidence that the gifts have ceased, I don’t believe that they present any compelling evidence that they have continued either. In fact, I would say that the Bible does not necessarily speak to the issue any more than it does the closing of the canon. Remember, the Bible does not present any compelling evidence that the canon is closed, yet I believe based on the same de facto arguments that Scripture is no longer being added to. I would argue that the Scriptures have been (for lack of a better word) “closed” due to an exhaustion of purpose. Interestingly, charismatics would make the same argument, believing that the while Scriptures never explicitly say that that the canon is closed, they believe it has nonetheless. Why do we all believe that the canon of Scripture is closed even though the Bible itself does not say that it has closed? If we were theologically honest, our answer would be very simple: Because it, as a matter of fact, closed! It is a de facto argument. The canon of Scripture is closed because God has not sent a verified Apostle or prophet who added to it in the last 2000 years. Continue Reading →

Lack of Theological Discipleship: Casualties by Friendly-Fire

Thesis: We have the tendency, left without theological discipleship and accountability, to make God into who we think he ought to be. When that version of him fails, it is not as if the true version has failed, but only the version we created. Therefore, we have not really left God in a proper sense, but we have left the God we made. Sure, this God may be called “Jesus” and he may have died on a cross for our sins, but, for some people, these form secondary characteristics that are not foundational.

The lack of theological discipleship in the Church has created casualties by friendly-fire.

Let me explain.

The “My will be done” type of God named “Jesus”

Imagine a person who finds God through some sort of deathbed experience. They may have been terminally ill and then they pray to God for the first time in their lives. Suddenly, they are healed. Based upon this, they accept a version of God who heals when trouble comes. Ask and you shall receive—according to your will. Their theology may allow for the name “Jesus”, the atonement for sins, and a belief that Christ is God, but they only believe this because God healed them. But what happens if they never grow with regards to their understanding of who God is, his sovereignty to take a life or to spare a life, the ultimate hope of the resurrection, and many other foundational theological issues? What happens when their spouse gets sick or their child has cancer and their version of God does not come to the rescue? Often, these will become disillusioned and skeptical of the God who brought about the previous miracle. If their belief in God is based on his healing intervention according to their will, then this belief no longer has a basis. Therefore, God no longer has a basis. Continue Reading →

Why I am Not Charismatic (Part 6): Excursus: It's Not About Miracles!

Regrettably, I must pause and submit another excursus. While it might seem to some to be a frustrated reaction having to reiterate an important issue, I am actually glad to have to do so since the issue of this post is so central to my argument. (So scratch my initial “regrettably”!)

Just about every objection that I have seen so far has been something I have belabored with blood, sweat, and tears to say is not the issue. Many have objected to my arguments about why I am not charismatic, especially those arguments from church history, citing all the miracles that have taken place. Their argument is that if there are truly so many miracles throughout church history, the one who says that the supernatural sign gifts have ceased—the cessationist—are in error.

This is really misunderstanding both my argument and, I believe, the issue at stake. It is not about whether miracles take place! It is not about whether you believe in miracles. It is not about whether you have experienced a miracle or heard of someone who has! We all believe in miracles! Continuationists and cessationists do. Quoting the church fathers who say that there were miracles in their day is something both charismatics and non-charismatics can accept. It does not add to the discussion.

Again, let’s be clear. According to how I am defining the issues (which I believe are correct) . . .

A continuationist/charismatic is one who believes that the so-called supernatural sign gifts such as tongues, prophecy, worker of miracles, etc. are normative for the church and that we should commonly expect people to be gifted with them.

A cessationist is one who believes that the supernatural sign gifts ceased after the death of the last Apostle or shortly thereafter due to an exhaustion in their purpose. Therefore, we should not expect such gifts in the church today. Continue Reading →

Getting Theologically Humiliated

No one likes to be told they are wrong. Correction and critique are things we go out of our way to avoid. Those who can ask the tough questions about your life—probing deep when they suspect some spiritual sickness—are not often not welcome friends. We don’t pick up the phone when they call. We avoid them at work. We don’t return their emails. Why? Because they can tell us the skinny about our life and we don’t want to hear it. We are prideful people who, like the priest, choose to walk far around the problems in our life, and we ask others to do the same.

As problematic as this mentality is with regards to things having to do with moral integrity, I believe that the problem is just as severe with regards to theological integrity.

Everyone hates to be critiqued. I remember going into seminary with a good deal of pride and arrogance. I did not recognize it at the time, but now that I look back now I can see it. I remember in my first preaching course, I could not wait to get in front of the other students and the professor and deliver my masterpiece. They would call me “Michael the Golden Mouth.” Oh yeah . . . recognition was coming. But my teacher did not see things the way my mind’s-eye had envisioned. I remember I preached for fifteen minutes on the Psalms. Afterwords I had to sit down and listen to my professor rip me to shreds in front of twenty other seminary students who gawked in fear as they knew they were next. Here is the type of critique we came to expect. Continue Reading →

The Theology Program Online Starts Next Tuesday: Enroll Today

The Theology Program
Spring 2009 Semester
Please note, this is online students only.

To find more about the online program, go here.

Introduction to
Theology
Course Description

Instructor:
C. Michael Patton, ThM.
Online meeting dates: Tuesday 7pm – 8pm EST, Jan. 13th – Mar 17th ,2009
Course Requirements: Minimum 3 hours per week – online class time,
reading assignments and viewing course videos.
Enroll now
Bibliology &
Hermeneutics
Course Description

Instructor:
C. Michael Patton, ThM.
Online meeting dates: Tuesday 8pm – 9pm EST, Jan. 13th – Mar 17th ,2009
Course Requirements: Minimum 3 hours per week – online class time,
reading assignments and viewing course videos.
Enroll now
Trinitarianism
Course Description

Instructor:
C. Michael Patton, ThM.
Online meeting dates: Tuesday 9pm – 10pm EST, Jan. 13th – Mar 17th ,2009
Course Requirements: Minimum 3 hours per week – online class time,
reading assignments and viewing course videos.
Enroll now
Soteriology
Course Description

Instructor:
C. Michael Patton, ThM.
Online meeting dates: Tuesday 10pm – 11pm EST, Jan. 13th – Mar 17th ,2009
Course Requirements: Minimum 3 hours per week – online class time,
reading assignments and viewing course videos.
Enroll now