19 May 2019

“...it is so just because it is there"





Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The MTP, volume 49, sermon number 2,862, "The way of wisdom." 


Image result for charles spurgeon

"I am not responsible for what is in the Book, I am only responsible for telling out what I find there, as it is taught to me by the Holy Spirit."

Let us never arraign God before our bar. It is a horrible thing for any man ever to say, “Well, if God acts like that, I do not see the justice of it.” How dare you even hint that the Judge of all the earth is not just?

He hath said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion;” so do not you say, “It cannot be so.” Is it so written in God’s Word? Then it is so just because it is there. If God has said anything, it is not right for you to ask for an explantion of his reason for saying it, or to summon him to your judgment-seat.

What impertinence is this! He must always do right; he cannot do wrong. Some have staggered over the doctrine of eternal punishment, because they could not see how that could be consistent with God’s goodness. I have only one question to ask concerning that or any other doctrine,—Does God reveal it in the Scriptures? Then, I believe it, and leave to him the vindication of his own consistency.

I am sure that he will not inflict a pain upon any creature which that creature does not deserve, that he will never cause any sorrow or misery which is not absolutely necessary, and that he will glorify himself by doing the right, the loving, the kind thing, in the end.

If we do not see it to be so, it will be none the less so because we are blind. The finger on the lip is the right attitude for us in the presence of things revealed by God, or wrought by God, as David said, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth because thou didst it.”

If thou didst it, O Lord, there is no question about the rightness of it, for thou art supreme, and thou oughtest to be supreme! There is none like thee for goodness, for love, for wisdom. Thy will ought to be—so let it be—done on earth, as it is heaven, let it be done everywhere, for what thou doest is ever best.

12 May 2019

Prophet, Priest and King

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The MTP, volume 33, sermon number 1,978, "Trust." 
Image result for charles spurgeon

"A saving trust leads us to accept Christ in all his offices." 

He is to us not only Priest to put away our sin, but Prophet to remove our ignorance, and King to subdue our rebellions.

If as Priest he purges the conscience, as Prophet he must direct the intellect, and as King he must rule the life. We must yield our will to Christ’s will, that henceforth every thought may be brought into captivity to his holy sway.

There is no whole-hearted trust in Christ unless Christ is taken as a whole. You cannot have half a Christ and be saved, for half Christ is no Christ.

You must take him as he is revealed in Scripture, Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour of men, very God of very God, the faithful and true Witness, your Guide, your Lord, your Husband, your everything.

Do you trust him so? If not, you have not trusted him at all. This is the trust which brings salvation with it—an entire reliance upon an entire Saviour so far as you know him.

06 May 2019

How to Build a Whitewashed Tomb

by Colin Eakin



Matt. 23:27: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness."

In 1942, Englishman C.S. Lewis published a book entitled The Screwtape Letters. In it, a senior devil named Screwtape details to his nephew and underling Wormwood methods for waylaying and ultimately damning his intended victim. The book is a clever and revealing look at how the actual devil, Satan, goes about perpetrating his odious work in the world. One overarching theme behind Screwtape's instruction to Wormwood is how the subtle provocation away from truth is usually more helpful in bringing souls to hell than blatant exposures to deplorable sins. Writes Screwtape to his young apprentice, "Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts . . . ."

One glance across the landscape of professing Christianity since the book's publication shows how Satan has capitalized mightily on Screwtape's insight, using incremental apostasy to poison the well of doctrinal truth and undermine the Church's message. Incremental nudges away from biblical fidelity are the hallmark of the false church, and the chief exponents Satan has employed for this task have been the contemporary equivalents of the "scribes and Pharisees" of Jesus' day, those tasked with overseeing Scriptural instruction. Christ's no-holds-barred denunciation of such false teachers was designed to expose these counterfeit religious leaders for who they really are—walking sepulchers housing spiritual cadavers.



Why "whitewashed"? Because Jesus knew what His Spirit would later inspire the Apostle Paul to write (2 Cor. 11:13-15): "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness." The "wolf in sheep's clothing" (cf. Matt. 7:13-14; Acts 20:28) has been Satan's chief ploy for deceiving the unsuspecting since the early days of the Church. Christ's diatribe in Matt. 23:27 is meant to warn of the spiritual leader housed in a sincere, winsome, wholesome-appearing, religiously adorned exterior, all the while concealing a spiritual corpse. And what was true then holds true today: nothing infuriates God more than a theologian or spiritual teacher whose noxious instruction is hidden by a veneer of respectability and charm, with just enough feints towards orthodoxy to beguile the naive. Moreover, knowing that students ultimately become like their masters (cf. Luke 6:40), Christ wanted all to know what was at stake given continued exposure to such impostors and their fetid deceit.

But despite the myriad of Scriptural warnings to be on guard against such impostors, the sad reality is that the Church has never been so awash in falsehood as it is today. It is as if Satan has hit upon the "whitewashed tomb" as the principal means for furthering his deception and is doubling down on their production. So if a new edition of The Screwtape Letters were to be published today, we might imagine it would contain an addendum entitled, "How to Build a Whitewashed Tomb." If artifice and apostasy is to continue infiltrating the Church, then Wormwood must be updated on the furtherance of this chief armament of Satan. With this in mind, let us imagine how Screwtape might write to Wormwood today:

My Dear Wormwood,

It being some time since our last correspondence, with developments both favorable and troubling, I feel compelled to write and bring you up to date on the latest directives from our Ruler. You will recall in prior posts I emphasized to you the value of incremental apostasy in undermining our Enemy's work. And no factor over the last two millennia has been more integral to this stratagem than the ongoing reproduction of (to use our Enemy's censorious term) "whitewashed tombs." As you know, these clandestine operatives appear to be working for Him, when in reality they are working for us.

That such a strategy has succeeded through the years, and even works today, is quite remarkable. For when our Enemy walked the earth, He plainly exposed our agents then for what they are—"whitewashed tombs"—and warned in great detail how they were to be identified (Matt. 7:13-14; 23:1-36; John 10:7-13). Not only that, His inspired scribes revealed us—the instigators and motivators behind these agents—in our true form, as "servants of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Such disclosures might have spelled disaster, as the impact of our counterfeit work lies in its spiritual camouflage, and here the Holy One of Israel was drawing back the curtain for all to see. Fortunately, time, vanity and spiritual lethargy have combined to dull the discernment of mankind to His warnings, to a degree that never before have our agents been so ubiquitous, and are finding greener pastures with every passing decade.
But we cannot become complacent. Remember how five centuries ago, the tide turned against us most dramatically and severely, and many souls were lost to the Enemy forever. It is uncertain we will ever fully recover from this calamity, as even now vestiges of that so-called "Reformation" continue to befuddle and undermine our labors. Therefore, you must understand our Ruler's prioritization of false teaching as our foremost task at hand, which in turn is predicated upon the replication of our prized "whitewashed tombs," that the unsuspecting might be permanently waylaid from the Truth. So without further ado, I pass along to you our Ruler's formula for how to build a "whitewashed tomb." If you can deceive the would-be teacher of the Word with these three simple measures, you will ensure their continued reproduction for the foreseeable future:

  1. The "whitewashed tomb" will downplay the biblical description of spiritual death.

    The first task in creating a whitewashed tomb is to obscure the biblical description of all mankind as being spiritually dead. As you know, the Enemy's Word is not ambiguous in declaring this as the true spiritual condition of all people prior to conversion. Fortunately, the world finds this doctrine especially scandalous, so we must naturally exploit their sense of insult. You will find your "tombs" will readily stray from teaching truth when it is offensive to their listeners. They will be loath to inform them that all humans are born into this world as spiritually deceased "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:1-3), that they live under the contemporaneous judgment of God (John 3:18; 36), and that—apart from salvation via repentance and faith—they are headed to eternal torment in hell (Matt. 25:41, 46). Let your would-be instructor teach that humans are broken, hurt, needful, insufficient, helpless, or any other distressed condition, but never spiritually deceased. If your tomb or his audience were to learn this truth of their condition (Ps. 51:5; Mt. 8:21-22; Luke 15:24; Eph. 2:1, 5), they would then be far likelier to yearn for the new life the Enemy offers through repentance and faith. Biblical terms and phrases we have sought to quash—such as "born again"—might reemerge and wreak havoc with our plans.

    Critical to this, of course, is that our Enemy's Word must remain unopened, or if opened, then ignored. Have your minions quote mystics and spiritual sages in lieu of the Truth. And when the Word must be quoted (as you will find at times is necessary to satisfy some), the text must serve the doctrinal presuppositions of our teachers, and not vice-versa. Your tombs should offer competing understandings of straightforward but culturally unpopular passages, and disdain polemical and apologetic use of the Word as illegitimate "proof-texting." Whenever possible, have your tombs offer solace to those who find it hard to spend time in the Word, as though such activity is incidental for the "Jesus-follower" (a nice substitute for "Christian"). Favor small groups simply gathering to share their lives and offer each other support over any formal "Bible study." Above all, our subjects must remain ignorant of the Enemy's clear tactic, which He openly declared in John 5:25: "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." We must do all we can to thwart such a development, and the key is to mislead the masses away our Enemy's Word and its unambiguous truth—that all humanity is spiritually dead until some hear His voice and become alive.

  2. The "whitewashed tomb" will invert the biblical order of spiritual regeneration
    Unfortunately, my dear Nephew, it is inevitable that the sinner's need for rebirth by our Enemy will surface. Sooner or later, the guilt and shame of sin will weigh on some, and they will long for spiritual regeneration which only our Enemy can provide. When that happens, it is imperative for you to invert the order of spiritual transformation. What do I mean? Simply this: humans must be encouraged to believe what they do for God makes them acceptable before God. They must be taught that one's performance for God determines their position with God, that they can belong to Him before they believe in Him.

    This is, of course, baldly refuted throughout Scripture. You know, dear Wormwood, that the prayers and other acts of service done by those who have not yet been redeemed by our Enemy through repentance and faith are an abomination to Him (Prov. 15:8; 28:9; Isa. 64:6). In fact, this is nothing other than legalism, that old tried and true tactic perfected by the Pharisees, yet still a compelling vice all these years later. This falsehood remains enticing because sinners warm to the idea that they might offer works to be approved by our Enemy, and recoil at being told they can do nothing to merit His acceptance. The endurance and flourishing of legalism explains how much of the professing Church today is bursting with spiritual activity and service rendered to our Enemy with absolutely no clue how to be truly reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:18-21).

    You might think the biblical evidence opposing this legalistic heresy is too overwhelming for our ploy to work, but think again. Just last month, a well-known megachurch pastor and popular author bemoaned to his congregation that, ". . . people are drawn to Buddhism rather than Christianity because they understand Buddhism to be a religion of practice, but Christianity to be a religion of beliefs. I don't know who defined Christianity that way, but it was not Jesus." (As you know, dear Wormwood, it certainly was. The Gospel of John is a veritable treasure trove of quotes by our Enemy refuting this teacher's statement and proving that salvation comes not from doing, but from believing; this is, again, why we must do everything possible to distract people from the Word). As you know, the world of religions that we have spawned and even now sustain are all based upon the pretense that human effort can win the Almighty's approval. As long as sinners can be deceived away from the truth that right belief must precede right practice, we will ensure their spiritual confusion and, ultimately, their damnation.

  3. The "whitewashed tomb" will ignore the biblical gospel of spiritual substitution
    Once your teacher ignores or, better yet, denies spiritual death as the default condition of all, then inverts the biblical order of spiritual regeneration by placing right practice ahead of right belief, your task is almost complete. The final nail in your whitewashed coffin is this: corruption of the true gospel through denial of penal substitutionary atonement. As you know, the Enemy has clearly stated that salvation comes from believing the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:2-3), and that the gospel basics—involving the death and resurrection of His Son—must be accepted according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:2-4). This means that those who would be saved through repentance and belief in the gospel (Mark 1:15) must understand that gospel as the Bible has described it: a gospel borne out of sacrifice by One Man to save the many through His satisfaction of His Father's just wrath against sin (Isa. 53:4-12; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). By bearing the punishment of those who would ever believe, the Son has forever redeemed them from the penalty their sin deserved.

    Because faith in this reality is what permanently severs our link with the vulnerable soul, we must obscure with full exertion the truth spelled out above. Jesus' death must be presented in nebulous terms, as the ultimate example of self-sacrifice, or as some vague and complicated form of victory over evil. Once sinners realize every sin must be punished by death, either through their own suffering for eternity or by Christ upon the cross, then the floodgates to salvation will be plain for all to see and our cause will be doomed. Fortunately, our Ruler's rebranding of the gospel around "social justice" has been a most propitious development, as it reverses the sinner's orientation from abject petitioner for mercy from God into entitled protester for recompense from man. A large swath of professing believers is now so centered on earthly indemnification that they have complete ignorance of, and (even better) disinterest in, spiritual rebirth. May such a damning perspective checkmate indefinitely the Enemy's desire to bring sons and daughters to His glory (cf. Heb. 2:10).
There you have it, dear Nephew. Use this letter to redouble your efforts in perpetuating falsehood via the development of respectable crypts. Through denial of the sinner's default condition as spiritually dead, reversal of the manner of spiritual regeneration, and repudiation of the need for spiritual substitution, you will become a master craftsman in your bid to transform today's spiritual teachers in "whitewashed tombs."

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

Dr. Colin L. Eakin
PyroManiac

Dr. Eakin is a sports medicine orthopædic surgeon in the Bay Area and part time teacher at Grace Bible Fellowship Church's Stanford campus ministry. He is the author of God's Glorious Story.

04 May 2019

Pastor: Stick to Praying and Preaching

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon



The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. This week's selection is from sermon 2189, "A Call to Prayer and Testimony," originally preached in February 1891, about a year before Spurgeon went to heaven.

t. Augustine desired to be always found aut precantem, aut predicantem; that is, either praying or preaching; either speaking to God for men in prayer, or speaking for God to men in his ministry. Ministers of Christ especially should give themselves, not to the serving of tables, but to the ministry of the word and to prayer. For us to give ourselves to getting up entertainments, to become competitors with theatres and music-halls, is a great degradation of our holy office. If I heard of a minister becoming a chimney-sweep to earn his living, I would honour him in both his callings; but for God's watchmen to become the world's showmen is a miserable business. God keep all of us who are ministers of Christ from entangling ourselves with the things of this life! The proverb says, "Stick to your last, cobbler"; and I would say—Stick to your pulpit, minister! Keep to your one work, and you will find quite enough for all the strength you have, and even more.

C. H. Spurgeon

03 May 2019

The Legalistic Pragmatism of Certain Social Justicians

by Hohn Cho



s someone who is not on Twitter but keeps abreast of it, let me point out that it has been a pretty crazy week for the Christian social justicians. For this blogpost, we'll be discussing a particular tirade by one Bradly Mason. Now, as someone who does his best to avoid responding to mere "someone is WRONG on the Internet" situations, since Mason appears to have relatively limited influence—just like me, I'd add, before anyone falsely accuses me of looking down on him—normally I'd be inclined to just let it pass. But given that portions of and references to his tweetstorm have been enthusiastically liked or retweeted with approval by many more prominent figures, including Thabiti Anyabwile, Anthony Bradley, Jemar Tisby, and Ekemini Uwan, and as of this writing has almost 200 retweets and over 1,300 likes, I think it's fair to say that he has struck a nerve.

That fact alone exposes the Proverbs 29:11 emotionalism and James 1:20 unrighteous anger which all too often drive so many of the social justicians' arguments, sadly. Certainly they don't appear to be driven by biblical or logical considerations, given that Mason cites zero Scripture despite 23 tweets, and quickly retreats from a slanderous bailey (naming many honorable men and groups[*] in response to the specific question, "Who is defending white supremacy using the Gospel?") to a still-indefensible motte (merely relegating those men and groups to a place of "making conservative evangelicalism a pretty safe place to harbor [white supremacist] views" and claiming they "defend White Supremacy") within the very same tweetstorm, incredibly. And during the course of his unsupported and unsupportable accusations (because none of the people or groups he names are "defending white supremacy" as they, in fact, overtly oppose white supremacy, and have said as much, and thus the claim is false), he also manages to airily dismiss many legitimate concerns raised by faithful saints, and set up and knock down over a dozen straw men, all while engaging in some of the most egregiously uncharitable heart-reading that I've seen in a long time.

Rather than get into a point-by-point rebuttal, I'm opting to highlight two overarching themes that I see in many social justicians' arguments. First, their claims and calls to action are often legalistic in nature, specifically the type of pharisaic legalism that elevates the heavy burden of man-made rules and lays them on people's shoulders per Matthew 23:4.

I find this to be an ironic phenomenon, given that social justicians often accuse their critics of being fundamentalists characterized by legalism, among other things, but the reality is that far too often, they themselves are the ones attempting to bootstrap generalized scriptural principles which do not speak to the time, place, or manner of how they ought to be applied, into extremely specific extra-biblical requirements. One example would be Anyabwile writing in the Washington Post last year about evangelicals' supposed "complicit silence" regarding President Trump (whom I did not support in 2016, by the way, but he is in fact the President, and thus for American Christians, Titus 3:1-2 applies), a terribly-reasoned piece which I previously critiqued here.

In that light, let's consider Mason's "motte" argument, specifically that the brothers and groups he accused are "making conservative evangelicalism a pretty safe place to harbor [white supremacist] views" and elsewhere that they "defend White Supremacy". This is a serious charge, and as is often the case with "social justice" rhetoric, its main support appears to be the author's opinion, specifically that the accused here too often dare to express concerns about the faulty or at times even non-existent Scriptural rationales of the social justicians, as well as the naturally dangerous fruit likely to result from such unbiblical trees.

In other words, if one disagrees with certain social justicians, or even declines to speak out on the specific topics they want with the specific frequency and strength they want, one is coddling white supremacists and defending white supremacy. Somehow. I guess. Even if some of the accused are not even white. Even if most (all?) of the accused have overtly preached and written against the evils of the sin of partiality pertaining to ethnicity and otherwise, and are supportive of things like interethnic marriage to such an extent that they are abhorred by the execrable kinists.

Look, that isn't "defending white supremacy" by any rational standard. The reality is that the accused attack white supremacy and are flatly opposed to it. Their "crime" is simply that they don't make opposing it the absolute center of their ministry, and are unwilling to just shut up and let the social justicians say whatever they want, unchallenged, as they unbiblically bind others' consciences with legalistic appeals, or even worse, confuse the Gospel with a Galatian addition of "wokeness" as a fundamentally required work. And in the exact same way, I believe all of the accused are pro-life and anti-abortion, but vehemently oppose anti-abortion extremists such as Abolish Human Abortion when they go overboard with their legalistic appeals and anti-biblical ecclesiology. Indeed, there are many similarities between the AHA zealots and the social justicians, and the comparison does not reflect well on either group.

Mason's argument is completely irrational and illogical, and again, it's absolutely legalistic. Because each of the accused, in his own stewardship, is ultimately accountable to the Lord—as well as his elders or fellow elders—for how he chooses to prioritize his public and private words and actions, and if Mason's (or Anyabwile's, or Bradley's, or Tisby's, or Uwan's, who all supported and aligned with Mason in some fashion) measuring stick for "woke" holiness is counting public comments opposed to or supportive of the social justicians' poor theology, well, they might as well break out their hemline-rulers and book bonfires.

At the end of the day, I'm aware of no biblical command to preach or speak out publicly (or tweet, for that matter) on any specific topic with any specific frequency, with the exception of course being the Gospel per 2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Corinthians 9:16, Acts 10:42, Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 1:16, as the accused have so often pointed out and emphasized in their ministries. This is true even for whatever major current event might be happening in any given week. Whether and to what extent a pastor decides to talk about 9/11, or an abortion bill, or a tragic mass shooting, or whoever the perpetrator of that mass shooting might be, is a matter for that pastor's own stewardship, and he will have a greater accountability for it per James 3:1. But when another person makes sweeping and censorious accusations about an entire swath of faithful men and ministries based sheerly on that person's perception of that stewardship and prioritization, well, James 2:13 gives me genuine concern for that person.

Meanwhile, for all of us as we decide if and when and how to speak, genuine care should be taken to avoid the real danger of virtue signaling to an outside secular world that is increasingly hostile to Christians...except of course those Christians eager to promote the latest worldly styles and fads, especially if they're willing to bash other groups of faithful Christians as they do. As Matthew 6:5 states, those virtue signalers already have their treasure, in the form of book deals, conference speaker gigs, Washington Post articles, and perhaps most commonly, the praise, admiration, and Twitter likes and retweets of countless social justicians, liberals, academics, celebrities, media figures, and cool hipsters whose only reactions to biblically faithful positions such as young earth creationism, traditional marriage, penal substitutionary atonement, and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ are the ridicule and revulsion reserved for uncouth, unwashed, unenlightened fundamentalists guilty of unspeakable thought crimes unfit for public discourse.

Before you call me an alarmist, this is already happening to Christian business owners, professors, and students. And it will continue happening, and will only get worse. And although it's unsurprising to see the faithful remnant besieged by torch- and pitchfork-carrying secularists, the saddest part to me is wondering who among my currently faithful professing brethren will end up offering them aid and comfort, or even joining their ranks.

This brings me to my second overarching theme, which is the pragmatic nature of so much of the social justician discourse. Again and again, I see concerns raised by people like Mason about the pragmatic ends of this or that action, rather than the biblical means on how to get to a particular end. I perceive over and over such a great concern for the temporal, that the spiritual is often neglected or treated as an afterthought. But as we know from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, we do not wage war according to the flesh, and in fact there is great importance in casting down arguments and opinions that are raised against the knowledge of God. This passage would seem to emphasize the importance of making sure that our means are indeed in accordance with what God has revealed in His Word, before rushing off to try to achieve some end. I would think one way to do this would be having a civil discourse.

Instead, sadly, we have pieces like Mason's, and a general lack of interest in having a substantive discussion. Everyone I know on "my side" of the argument, including the accused, is eager to have a discussion about what the Bible says on this or that "social justice" topic, but the usual response I've seen from social justicians is crickets. And while I fully acknowledge the possibility of confirmation bias, based on my own personal experience in the church on this "social justice" issue, I believe I'm north of a dozen times recently when my attempts to engage in (highly civil) discussions have been met with silence, unfulfilled promises to respond later, in two cases a decisively dismissive attitude, and in only one case an actual conversation over lunch that turned out to be both profitable and enjoyable. And I've observed from afar a similar ratio in the tireless efforts of Neil Shenvi.[**]

When I compare this track record to some higher-profile spats in the secular world, rife with declarations that look like, "go educate yourself, I'm not going to do your homework for you" (a seemingly curious response, if one is truly interested in advancing one's preferred position within the marketplace of ideas), or "I'm sick and tired of repeating myself all the time" (a more understandable sentiment in the secular world, perhaps, but less so for Christians called not to weary of doing good in Galatians 6:9), I'm grieved by the similarity of the responses.



More and more, my impression is that many Christian social justicians are simply not interested in having a discussion (much less a debate) with the brothers and sisters who respectfully disagree with them. Instead, it seems as though the desire is simply to proselytize to build their coalition and then declare victory, with any opposition either ignored, or smashed down with a sledgehammer of presumptuously misappropriated moral authority. And when this happens, honest disagreement is often recast as hatred or slander, sadly, and people who earnestly hold differing biblical convictions are dismissed, or even worse, cast out, as adherents of a truncated or incomplete Gospel...or even as defenders of white supremacy. Because apparently, it is not good enough for many social justicians to simply separate and do ministry in different ways, as Paul and Barnabas did, but precisely because the social justicians are seeking pragmatic or even political goals, the movement must grow. And suddenly, personal convictions become "Gospel issues" and individual Christian liberty is turned into the legalistic requirements I described in my first theme, above.

Instead of such political pragmatism, what the church truly needs is more godly, Gospel-proclaiming Christians concerned for the individual souls of the lost, and not more armchair politicians. And this is true regardless of whether their arms might sit on the right or left armrest. Indeed, some of the social justicians go on and on (and on and on) wondering how any professing Christian could ever support certain policies supported by the Republican Party or even worse, President Trump, displaying an astonishing lack of self-awareness as they do so. Because the reality is that they're doing the exact same thing as the people they decry, merely from the opposing political viewpoint.



I'll leave it to each individual Christian to decide whether or not one party or the other is more supportive of his or her most important biblical principles and convictions. Speaking only for myself, however, I can't bring myself to vote for any party that would continue to maintain the horror of abortion as a fundamental right. This is my own personal bright line litmus test, my speaking up for the most voiceless and oppressed of all, as nearly a million babies a year are still being murdered in the US alone. It is every bit as shocking and immoral, if not more so, than the evils of hereditary slavery based on the color of one's skin with origins in man-stealing. Thankfully, that evil was abolished over 150 years ago...and yet our modern tragedy of abortion continues. The social justicians often speak about the importance of moral clarity on certain societal issues. I agree, and that's precisely why I personally believe all other societal issues—even some good ones, some important ones—pale in comparison to the very lives of countless unborn children.

Once again, however, the differences in temporal priorities that individual Christians might have are precisely why I and so many other like-minded brothers (like the accused) and sisters emphasize the importance of Gospel proclamation, over any other social or political matter. Because the eternal state of each individual unsaved man or woman is something we all ought to be able to unite on, and of far greater importance than any temporal issue, however dire. I'm glad to be confident in that stance from so many of the accused. Indeed, I know the majority of these men and leaders in three of the groups personally, and they abhor and clearly teach against the sin of partiality both generally as well as specifically pertaining to ethnicity. So just as Mason's "motte" charge is completely baseless legalism, his "bailey" charge is simply outrageous calumny. And he and the people cheering him on ought to repent of it and retract it.

Hohn's signature



* Mason specifically accuses the brethren Justin Peters, John MacArthur, James White, Phil Johnson, Doug Wilson, JD Hall, Josh Buice, Tom Ascol, R. Scott Clark, Darrell Harrison, Burk Parsons, and in a follow-up tweet Samuel Sey and Voddie Baucham, as well as the groups Sovereign Nations, Alpha & Omega Ministries, Grace To You, Pulpit & Pen, Reformation Charlotte, Aquila Report, American Vision, and Ligonier Ministries.

** If you're not familiar with Neil, you really ought to consider checking him out, and his research partner Pat Sawyer as well. Neil's website is chock-full of excellent, biblical takes on a wide variety of topics (including perhaps most notably, these days, critical theory), and his Twitter feed is the type of graciously edifying, Christ-honoring engagement that I would aspire to, were I ever to take the plunge onto that medium.

28 April 2019

Avoid whine


Image result for Charles spurgeon

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The MTP, volume 53, sermon number 3021, "Landlord and tenant." 


"Yes, you were grumbling this morning: that was not rendering a worthy recompense for benefits received." 

Shall a living man complain? There are some who do little else but complain. They complain of the times, of the weather, of the government, of their families, of their trade; if, for once, they would
complain of themselves, they might have a more deserving subject for fault-finding.

The Lord is good, and doeth good, and let his name be blessed. Let us, as his people, avow that, though he slay us, yet will we trust in him; and if he make us groan under his heavy hand, we will even weep out his praises, and our expiring sigh shall be but a note of our life’s psalm, which we hope to exchange full soon for the song of the celestial host above.

Praising and blessing God in life, practically by obedience, and heartily with gratitude,—this is the rent which is due for the house in which we dwell.

22 April 2019

A Chosen Race, A Royal Priesthood, A Holy Nation

by Hohn Cho



n March 29-30, the organization Sparrow Women, which claims as its mission, "We want to pursue racial harmony by equipping women through Sparrow Resources, by partnering with churches and organizations in the training of leaders, by unifying women through Sparrow Conference, and by pursuing justice and mercy by partnering with like-minded non-profits," held its annual conference. A discussion at the conference with Ekemini Uwan, a "Nigerian-American public theologian," became the subject of controversy, particularly after Uwan made comments such as, "whiteness is wicked" and that people should "divest from whiteness." (An unofficial discussion transcript retweeted by Uwan can be found here.)

In response to some respectful pushback, which Uwan rejected as an attempt to "mansplain" her, Uwan proceeded to double down with her "whiteness is wickedness" claim. Putting aside the seeming bravado of her Twitter feed that included hiring an attorney (which I'm sure is different from the biblical criticism that James MacDonald rightly received for suing other believers in violation of 1 Corinthians 6 because oppression, or something), putting aside the factual and historical disagreements I have with her presentation, putting aside even the massive semantical confusion relating to the word "whiteness" in its common meaning (which would be assumed by most people) versus its sociological critical race theory meaning (which Uwan never even overtly or fully defines, although Neil Shenvi does a good job here, despite the grave risk of mansplainin'), two things stand out to me about Uwan's presentation.



First, I continue to be amazed when professing Bible-believing Christians forward the notion that worldly theories and terminology from humanistic realms such as sociology and critical race theory ought to be adopted by other Christians. If we truly believe 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that Scripture equips us for every good work, and 2 Peter 1:3 that we already have everything we need pertaining to life and godliness, and indeed, that the Scripture is sufficient, then we should be able to recognize readily that grafting a oppressor/oppressed lens onto everything is at best an unprofitable recipe leading to bitterness, discontentment, disunity, unforgiveness, and an overly temporal rather than eternal focus, and at worst the overt heterodoxies of liberation theology.

According to Scripture, it is not the worldly-wise sociology Ph.D.'s who have the truth, it is the worldly-foolish—yokels and bumpkins who cling to the divine power and wisdom of one Book, rather than the ever-expanding reading lists of secular books assigned by Uwan and her fellow travelers. This message is crystal clear in the classic passage on the topic, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, in addition to numerous other verses such as 1 Corinthians 2:6-8, 1 Corinthians 3:18-20, Colossians 2:8, James 4:4, and 1 John 2:15.

Far too often, sadly, contemporary Christian social justicians seem enamored of currying the world's favor, particularly its academies and professors and intellectuals and entertainers. After all, to take any other path would be to risk being branded as a racist or narrow-minded religious bigot, attacks which have become so routine and vicious that even many faithful Christians are hesitant to stand up for the self-evident truth (reflected in Article XIII of the Statement on Social Justice, -ay) that—with zero regard for the cultures' outward appearances—cultures which are either founded upon or closer to a biblical worldview are better than those cultures antagonistic to or further away from a biblical worldview.

Ultimately, in light of the woeful state of biblical literacy among typical professing Christians, I would submit that the time spent on Uwan's secular reading list would instead be far better spent reading the Bible, and solid systematic theologies, and even Christian biographies about martyrs and heroes and heroines of the faith. To be clear, by saying this, I am not advocating for Luddite paranoia, but rather a maintaining of wise priorities. Why spend so much time chasing after the wisdom of the world, when the perfect Scriptures that we have ready access to, with more solid biblical resources now than at any other time in human history, overtly warn in Colossians 2:8 against such empty and deceptive philosophies as the traditions of men and principles of the world?



To the extent we do opt to read such chaff, it should be with a testing and discerning eye, comparing every truth claim and assertion against the Word per Romans 12:2 and 1 John 4:1. My own experience has been that secular materials tend to be of greater benefit when they are based upon observable and repeatable science relating to God's natural revelation, hard data gathered and analyzed using proper and objective methodology, and universally understood truths about human nature that the Bible would affirm, and far less benefit when they start moving into the social sciences and humanities, particularly when viewed through the increasingly leftist lenses of today's academia. So hard neuroscientific studies based on brain scans could be far more compelling than soft psychological studies that increasingly can't even be replicated; but even those would likely have more value than the humanistic religion of critical race theory that Uwan appears to endorse so heartily.

Second, Uwan proposes that instead of "whiteness" people ought to focus on ethnic identity, even going so far as to claim, "It's like 'Oh, I'm just being a Christian' not knowing that their Christianity is also mediated through whiteness, and ours is mediated through our Blackness, through our ethnic identity, so we have to be careful about that." I suppose it's an interesting concept, but it's also a completely unbiblical one.

We have precisely one mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), and His name is Jesus Christ! And as Christians, our identity in Christ is our first and foremost and primary and increasing identity. John 3:30 aptly states, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Every other group identity pales in comparison to our Christian identity, and our unity in Christ is a reality and a command that must overwhelm any other tendency toward tribalism or factionalism, which we must actively resist. Think about it, Christ told us plainly in Luke 14:26 that our Christian calling could require us to leave behind even immediate family, how much more so must we leave behind ties of far less importance, such as ethnicity or class or tribe or political party? Consider verses such as these:

Romans 10:12-13, "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'"
1 Corinthians 12:13, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
2 Corinthians 5:16-17, "Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
Galatians 3:28-29, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise."
Colossians 3:9-11, "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him-a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all."
1 Peter 2:9-10, "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY."

The theme of these verses could not be more clear: in Christ, all of us are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We are unified in Christ right now, in the present, and all other temporal distinctions, all other recognitions of the flesh, are unimportant distinctions, so unimportant, in fact, that when compared to Christ, they are not even distinctions at all.

This truth is brought out even more clearly in Acts 6 and Galatians 2, two of the passages most often cited by social justicians in support of their position, ironically. In Acts 6, we saw a conflict in Jerusalem where the native ethnic majority Hebraic Jews were neglecting the distribution of charity to the widows of the ethnic minority Hellenistic Jews. Meanwhile, in Galatians 2, we saw a conflict in Galatia (near what is now central Turkey) where the ethnic minority Jews were arrogantly keeping themselves separate from the native ethnic majority Gentiles (many of whom were of Celtic background, interestingly).

In both of these conflicts, we see the clear call to crush down the importance of our ethnic culture, and to elevate our unity in Christ, which is what truly matters. This reality is true regardless of whether it's a majority group or a minority group acting wrongly! The answer is the same, repent and cut it out. (And by the way, nowhere in either conflict is there any evidence of reparations being made after the fact. The solutions were to be diligent in ensuring a fair distribution of charity, and to sit together in unity.)

Neither do the descriptive passages in Revelation (as opposed to the prescriptive passages I cite above) which state matter-of-factly that Heaven will have people from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue equal some kind of ethnocentric mandate. Indeed, when we look at a passage such as Revelation 7:9-10, we see that the focus of that passage is on worship of the Lamb and not at all the ethnic makeup of the worshippers. In fact, upon closer examination, the most noteworthy aspect of the worshippers is that they're all so astonishingly unified, even (gasp) uniform in many ways, standing in the same position before the throne, wearing the same white robes, waving the same palm branches, and saying the exact same thing, in unison. These descriptive passages are hardly a justification for elevating the importance of ethnicity. In fact, they speak far more to the elevation of our unity in Christ!

The dangers of emphasizing ethnicity in comparison to the vastly more important unity we share in Christ are manifold, and I think Pastor Todd Pruitt of the PCA put it extremely well when he said, "Tribalism and ethnocentrism are easy and enticing. Kinism and Black Liberation Theology wallow in this sinful mess. Reject them for the sake of Christ and his church".

It's a call I pray that the leaders of the faithful church universal, in particular, will heed, and heed soon. Sadly, with the steady drumbeat of the outside world demanding obeisance to its leftist secular values, and all too many church "leaders" either remaining silent or even enthusiastically agreeing with them in some cases, I have not been overly encouraged. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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