Archive | August, 2010

Beware of “Professional Weaker Brethren”

My daughter, Katelynn, who is eleven, wants to start wearing make-up. I have a rule: No make-up at all until she is twelve. My wife does not agree with me. She thinks I am being legalistic. I can’t help it. That is just the way I think. I can justify it in ten different ways with my hands tied behind my back. The problem is that none of my justification is really black or white. It is one of those things that the Scripture does not speak on. My wife’s argument makes sense too. However, I have scruples about the issue. These scruples bend my understanding and create their own passions. One more year and the scruples will be gone as Katelynn will be twelve.

Make-up is not the issue. I don’t want to go there. We all have scruples. That is not really a technical theological term, though it is in the dictionary. This is how it is defined: “An uneasy feeling arising from conscience or principle that tends to hinder action.” However, when it comes to our faith, scruples are hard to deal with. You have these militating  terms: grace and liberty.

When grace and liberty clash with “scruples,” more often than not, unfortunately, the scruples win. Why? Because we are so quick to sacrifice our liberty for the sake of the “weaker brethren.” Yes, this “weaker brethren” card is often pulled and legalists love it. In fact, it is used most often by those who are legalist wearing the disguise of those who are free. It is not that this card is illegitimate—it is not as if there are not true weaker brethren—but it is abused and the result is slavery.

I remember Chuck Swindoll talking about this saying: “Be careful, there are some people out there who are ‘professional weaker brethren.’”

“Kristie, I have scruples with this make-up thing. Maybe I cannot find a verse or a solid principle upon which to rest my theological head, but you need to be sensitive  and understanding to my hang-ups for the sake of my spirituality. One more year and my scruples will be gone.”

I highlighted some key words that legalists will use to manipulate the situation. “Sensitive,” “understanding,” “hang-ups,” “sake,” and most importantly, “my.”

From the other side, liberty is so often sacrificed.

“I don’t go to the movies because I don’t want to cause anyone to stumble.”

Often implied translation: “You should give up your liberty too if you want to be spiritual like me.”

“I don’t ever drink alcohol because a weaker brethren might see me and fall into sin.”

Often implied translation:I have scruples with this issue and you should too.”

“If someone saw me befriending this person, they may think I am condoning their actions. Therefore, I sacrifice my liberty for the sake of their frailty.”

Often implied translation: “I can’t be friends with people who are that sinful.”

Okay, to the passage: Romans 14. Continue Reading →

Will Your Faith Grow this Fall?

Do you wish you could be heading to seminary this Fall? Let’s face it, God will not lead most people to seminary. What if you could still get great theological training right from your home?

Theology Program

The Theology Program was designed just for you. Learn from passionate theological teachers while interacting with fellow students. Each week you will participate in a seminary-level lecture and then come together LIVE online for discussion with your professors and fellow students.

We have had thousands go through The Theology Program. It is for you. The teaching is not watered down, but it is accessible. Our goal is for you to learn the great truths about our God, as you engage your heart as well as your mind. We invite you to join The Theology Program today!

We’re offering 4 courses this Fall. Tuesday nights we’ll be offering: Introduction to Theology; Bibliology and Hermeneutics (study of the Bible and it’s interpretation); and Soteriology (the study of salvation). We’re excited to be offering, for the first time, a course over the lunch hour! We’ll be studying Trinitarianism (study of the Trinity) over lunch every Tuesday. All our courses kick-off Tuesday, September 14th.

Click Here to Enroll In TTP Today

Discipleship Program


Elective: Critical Thinking

Discipleship Program

Want to have a great time this Fall while also growing in your walk with Christ?  We’re kicking off a brand new class called The Discipleship Program.  It’s a 10-week Bible study on Wednesday nights which covers the foundational beliefs and practices of a growing disciple of Jesus.  The study time will be from 7-7:45pm CST.  The program kicks-off in just a few weeks on Sept. 15th.  You’ll love the LIVE online classroom where you can chat with others and participate by asking questions and commenting each week. Space is limited so please register today. The cost for the entire program is $25 per person. 

Learn more and Register Here Today


Discipleship Program

Join Robert Bowman this Fall as he takes you through issues in critical thinking in 8 weeks. You can expect a clearer understanding of what logical fallacies entail, common mistakes people make when presenting arguments, and how to avoid these mistakes yourself.

Rob is a well know apologist and author of several books. His teaching approach is thorough and informative yet tangible.

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Learn more and Register Here Today



Theology Unplugged – The History and Future of Evangelicalism (Part 4)

Join C. Michael Patton, Sam Storms, and Tim Kimberley as they discuss the history and future of Evangelicalism.

Other ways to get TUP:

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  • A Short Exegesis of 2 Timothy 2:11-14 – An Early Christian Creed

    2 Timothy 2:11-14

    It is a trustworthy statement:

    For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; 

        If we endure, we shall also reign with Him;

    If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 

       If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.”

    There is strong agreement that this passage, introduced by pistos ho logos (“this saying is trustworthy”), is an early creed set to meter. In other words, this is not Paul’s original composition, but was a common among the early church. It could have been a saying or a part of a hymn. This is significant as it demonstrates early Christian dogma which predates Paul’s letter by many years.

    Each of the four lines is introduced with the conditional participle ei. The creed (or at least this part of it) seems to consist of two parallel sets of lines each of which represent escalation (climatic parallelism). I have distinguished by font and indentation here:

    For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; 

        If we endure, we shall also reign with Him;

    If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 

       If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

    In the first line, the protasis is a past tense, “If we died with him.” The second is set in the future, “we shall also live with him.” While Paul may not be the author of this creed, it does seem to represent Pauline influence. In Romans 6 Paul informs Christians that we have all died with Christ, meaning the old condemned man has been done away with, being buried with him (Rom. 6:2-3). It would then follow that the future “living with him” is not eschatological, but a present reality that follows our death with Christ. If we have died with him, we live with him becoming united in his resurrection (Rom. 6:8).

    Our “enduring” is the subject of the next protasis. It would seem that it escalates the previous apodosis, “live with him.” Christ’s life was one of endurance, so we should expect the same (Rom. 12:12; 1 Cor 12:7; hupomeno). The final escalation, paralleling “live with him” is our future reigning with Christ. 

    However, there is a turn in the creed. This turn is from one of hope, to a stern warning. The first person plural (“we”) is retained, but the protasis introduces the opposing option that people can take concerning Christ—denial. If we are to deny him, he will deny us. Our denial is the polar opposite of dying with him. Therefore, it would seem that this has to do with the progressive response of unbelievers (who neither die nor live with him), not a slip of faith like that of Peter who denied Christ three times. The fearful result is found in the apodosis, “he will deny us.” This denial is reminiscent of Christ’s words in Matt. 10:33. Christ’s repetition of this theme in his ministry demonstrates it importance in his message (Mark 8:38).  Continue Reading →

    My View About Prohibiting Alcohol

    I recently heard a preacher talk about compromise. His lesson was a good lesson in principle. The basic thrust was taken from the story of Solomon. Solomon was given a promise that if he followed the Lord as his father David did,  he would not lack a descendant on the throne of Israel. Yet Solomon compromised by disobeying God’s command and took many wives.

    The preacher used this story wisely to explain the danger of compromise. Like any preacher, he had examples that would take the eternal principle of compromise and contextualize it for our day so that we might see the immediate danger that we face (since most of us don’t have the temptation to take too many wives!). Yet the examples he gave evidenced the misplaced priorities of many in the church to misdirect the application of the principles to acts that in-and-of-themselves did not represent compromise.

    Here is the list of examples of compromise he gave and expounded upon for nearly thirty minutes:

    1. Going to the movies with an “R” rating.

    2. Listening to a dirty joke at work.

    3. Accepting a mixed drink at a party.

    This preacher focused on the pressure that often comes to participate in these actions. He said that others will think you are a “goody-two-shoes” if you don’t take part, but if you do, you will have crossed the first line compromise which is the most dangerous line to cross. Following up these examples, he encouraged the listeners with these exhortations:

    “We must obey God’s word”

    “God’s word is not about not having fun”

    “God knows best, and if he says don’t do these things, then we obey without question”

    While I agree with what this preacher said about compromise, its danger, and about God knowing best, I felt that the examples he gave were irresponsible, representing a legalistic folk-theology which is more destructive than constructive. Not only this, but as I sat there and listened, I found myself thinking, “This guy has compromised by giving these examples without qualification.”

    I want to focus on the example of drinking for just a moment to illustrate what I mean. Let me loosely quote how the illustration was laid out:

    If you are at a party and someone tries to give you a mixed drink, what do you do? You say, ‘I am a Christian and I don’t drink.’ But what if the person says come on, just one. You say ‘I really can’t.’ Then the person just tells you to hold the drink and you do. . . This is compromise.”

    From the preacher’s point of view, the person crossed a dangerous line of compromise by even holding the drink. Holding the drink will cause you to take a drink and then, as the preacher said, say, “Give me another.”

    The assumption behind this illustration is that drinking an alcoholic drink—especially a mixed drink—is the sin that we must avoid at all costs. This is where I think this preacher has compromised himself. He has given in to the temptation of setting up a legalistic standard. He has built a wall of protection around a sinful act and the wall itself has become the object of sin.  Drinking an alcoholic drink—even a mixed drink—is not a sinful act (much less holding a drink compromise).

    Instead of listening to this, I would like you all to take a few theology courses:

    “Under the Law Again” 101, room 314 – 1pm-1:15

    “How to Scare Sin Out of People” 201, room 500 – 3pm-4pm

    “How to Return to the Oldness of the Letter” 301, room 225 – 6am-10am (once a week)

    “The Pharisees Were Right – How Evangelicals are Antinomianism Historical Revisionists” 1100 (doctrate level), room 220 – 5pm-until you get it! Continue Reading →

    Two Charts on the Literature of the Bible

    I worked on these all night last night. Feel free to use.

    I could not find any visual aid in distinguishing among the prevalent types of literature represented in each book, so I made one.

    As well, I could not find any chart that breaks down the books according to percentage. I had to put my math cap on to do this. Here it is.

    Review: Logos 4, Bible Study Software

    There are a lot of things I would do differently if I could see the future. I have a collection of cassette tapes that are useless. Had I known that cassettes would only be in vogue for just a few years, I would have waited. We want to invest in things that are going to last.

    What does this have to do with Logos Bible Study Software? In short, you will never have buyers remorse. Your investment will never go bad.

    I have been a Logos user (and fan) since the nineties. In fact, I have used just about every Bible study software out there. Some are like the cassette. Useful. Around for a while. But now gone. Logos is the real deal. It has not only been around since the beginning (relatively speaking). Its not going anywhere. No, not because they are marketing and business sharks. I know the guys at Logos and their heart is for the Lord. It is going to be around because they know what they are doing. They are making Bible study more accessible. Its that simple.

    I recently upgraded to Logos 4. There were a lot of things I “put up with” in the prior versions simply because, even with all the hangups, Logos was the best way to build an digital library. However, the programmers of Logos 4 must have been reading my mind. Version 4 is absolutely incredible. Why?

    Faster: I can search my library of thousands of books for a word or phase in seconds. For example, I just searched for the phase “semper reformanda” (meaning “always reforming”). In .20 sec I got 89 results in 51 resources. Amazing.

    Cleaner: This comes with efficiency. With every release, Logos become immensely more powerful, yet they are able to make the experience cleaner and more efficient.

    Study area: This is my favorite (okay, second favorite—the “faster” is my favorite). The environment for study is hard to critique in any negative way. They have done a tremendous job with the tabbing system, personalization, and memories of my studies. I can have ten Bibles, six commentaries, three lexicons, cross references, as well as sermons available online about the passage open all at once (and that is not even the limit). The key thing is that I never lose my focus in the study. Everything just builds efficiently around the passage. Continue Reading →

    My Biggest Gripe with Word/Faith Theology

    For those that don’t know, I was at one time an adherent of Word/Faith theology.  I considered it to be a legitimate representation of the Bible’s prescription for exercising our faith. It was not uncommon for me to recite certain passages of scripture as the basis for a verbal declaration of desired outcomes or an expectation that God would move according to the level of my faith.  Such passages included

    Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit

    Mark 11:23-24 – Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.  Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

    Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

    James 1:6-7 – But he must ask in faith without any doubting , for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.

    Needless to say, I have since learned that a consideration of faith in correlation to the complete witness of scripture does not yield the formula of faith that supporters of Word/Faith theology promote.  That is, that faith is the conduit through which God moves on behalf of his people and words must align accordingly.  It is a syncretist philosophy that attempts to blend metaphysical principles of positive confession and the idea that such confessions can yield corresponding results.   Moreover, it is used to support the idea that blessings come in the form of some type of material gain that is believed to be an appropriate symbol of favortism of God.

    The passages listed above are commonly used to support this idea but they must be evaluated in their literary and cultural context sourced in the authorial intent of the overriding message of God’s revelation in Christ and his ultimate plan for history.  The association of confession with belief does not yield a formula of faith that gets results but rather aligns the heart towards an appropriate response towards God, his plan and purpose that is recognized in prayer.  Faith is not an abstract concept of hope placed in whatever we desire, but a necessity of trust in what has already been revealed.  Jesus’ words must be considered in context of his redemptive plan and purpose.  One of my fellow bloggers over at Theologica wrote a really nice piece here on the substance of faith. Continue Reading →