Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thinking Like Paul

When you talk with someone about the doctrine of salvation (soteriology), do they accuse you of making God seem unjust? Or unrighteous? Or not fair? If they don't, then there may be a problem.

In Romans 9, Paul is laying out his understanding of how God works salvation in people's lives and knows it is a hard teaching. He even does us the great favor of anticipating his readers' objections. After verse thirteen's proclamation that ""JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED," Paul knew people would be puzzled and supposed the following imaginary objection: "What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!"

He follows this up with an explanation of how he could possibly say something so shocking about God's stance towards Isaac's two sons: "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."

Then, in verse sixteen, Paul writes "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy." Again, the person that makes this biblical statement today will be castigated and will be charged with denying the absolute free will of man in salvation. It will be argued that if salvation is all of God, then how can God possibly punish those who never accept Christ?

Again, Paul anticipates this and provides yet another imaginary argument, writing, "You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?'"

Now, here is the question I ask of you: when you explain your understanding of God's role in the salvation of humans, do you ever have anyone complain that your view makes God seem UNJUST or UNFAIR? If not, perhaps it is because your understanding of salvation is at odds with Paul's!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bush, our Theologian-In-Chief

In an interview with ABC News, President George W. Bush reveals why religion and politics make very strange bed-fellows. Bush does pretty well up until the 1:30 mark and then he turns sharply towards heresy.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wall Street Journal Tackles Rick Warren

Suzanne Sataline, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, wrote an article on September 5 that takes on the biggest of targets: Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Life/Church phenomenon. Her thesis is as follows:
Mr. Warren preaches in sandals and a Hawaiian shirt, and he encourages ministers to banish church traditions such as hymns, choirs and pews. He and his followers use "praise team" singers, backed by rock bands playing contemporary Christian songs. His sermons rarely linger on self-denial and fighting sin, instead focusing on healing modern American angst, such as troubled marriages and stress. . . .

Christians have long divided over efforts to adapt and modernize their faith. Some believers worry that purpose-driven techniques are so widespread among Protestant churches that they are permanently altering the way Christians worship.
You can read more here.

The Baptist Press rebuts the article here.