Friday, July 3, 2020

Liberty

I’m writing this mere days from the Fourth of July. That grand day we celebrate our liberty in these United States. Or, the day we used to celebrate our liberty. Maybe I’ll watch virtual fireworks online which seems fitting to celebrate my virtual liberty. In 1828 Daniel Webster, in the dictionary that bears his name, defined liberty in a rather robust way. The entire definition wouldn’t fit in this column, but we can boil it down to it’s Latin roots, which  means free. Liberty is freedom from restraint, whether physical, or mental. It’s being free from the control of others. In Title 27 CFR 555.11, the Federal Government defines fireworks. There are different categories and depending who you are, what you are doing with them, and whether you have obtained a license from the ATF, will determine if you have the freedom to celebrate your liberty. 

Liberty is a gift. It’s something everyone wants for themselves and most people want to take away. To live with liberty means you can’t make everyone look, think, act, or believe like you do. I love liberty. But liberty comes at a cost. There is a price paid to get it, there is a price to have it, and a price to keep it. Our forefathers paid a price to give us this country and the freedoms we have. They are not my gods or saviours. They were not perfect, but I don’t need them to be perfect. I’m not either. We are learning now there is a price to keep it. There is also a price to have liberty. Liberty is dangerous. 
 
I was at the park recently to watch my boys play an outdoor, socially distance recital. It was nice to hear the kids playing music. Someone, in order to protect the kids (what about the children!) took away the seats to all the swings at the park. Our government hard at work to protect us. It was a sad sight, all those chains hanging from the swingset. But soon after, there were some little rebels who made their way from the concert to the playground and went straight for the chains grabbed hold and started having a blast. Was it safe? Nope. Could they have gotten the virus, or broke their arm, or skinned their knees or struck by lightening? All possibilities. But liberty is dangerous. Maybe these kids will have the courage to fight for their liberty, if we have any left to pass down to them. 

The Lord Jesus, the King of Kings, came to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1). The Lord pronounced the blessed Jubilee of the soul and set those bound by sin free to walk in the light and liberty of the New Covenant. King Jesus gives liberty. Men try to squash it or take it away. But I’m Christ’s freeman, free from the condemnation of the law and free to live in Him. Free to serve him and free to love God and neighbor. Christ's liberty doesn't make a man selfish but in the Spirit we don't use freedom as a cover for sinfulness but to live for God's glory. Some people use their liberty to be jerks. So is the answer to stifle speech? I would much rather know what people really believe by hearing what they have to say than try to be the conscience police. 

The liberty of conscience we have in this country is a Baptist Heritage. That's dangerous. I believe you have the right to believe how you want. I will also take that same privilege for myself. I'll stand before the Lord Jesus Christ one day to give an account to him for my life and my words so I had better judge myself how I use my liberty. Is that safe? Ask Paul how safe being free is and how much it cost him. They took they liberty of his body but not his soul. Once you beat a man on the inside, he's beaten all together, no matter how strong and tough he is. The Romans, the Jews, the religious preachers beat Paul's body and hurt him all they could from the outside, but they didn't' whip his Spirit. To be free is dangerous because you'll loose friends. You'll loose opportunities. You can't be faithful, free, and popular with everyone. But being popular with everyone has a price all its own. 

Jesus set me free. The Lord Jesus lived to do the will of the Father and didn't care what men thought of him. My King gave me eternal life why should I bow the knee to the ungodly dictates of a pagan world? Why should I now have my conscience molded by ungodly infidels as to what is right or wrong? 

Let freedom ring. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Interesting Times



Secondary Issues
There are issues in the Scripture that have more weight than others. It's really impossible to deny (Matthew 23:23). It's also not debatable that you are not supposed to fight over matters of conscience (Romans 14:1). 

Then why are there so many fights? I believe it is because no one thinks they are the weaker brother and everyone appeals to Romans 14:14. I don't think I'm the weaker brother now. I didn't think I was the weaker brother 15 years ago on some matters, but looking back I know that I was. In most fights, I think we could define a secondary issue as, "any matter which I do not find important." 

For example, SBC President, J.D. Greear masterfully plays the secondary issues card. He recently said, "The flip side is the rancor and divisiveness of that 10%. They are focused on secondary issues, that you just have to wonder what that means about their priority and their love of the priority issue, the gospel."

Step one, you have to know someone else's heart. So if you disagree with Greear, you are unloving and don't focus on the gospel. Of course, what this implies is J.D. is on the right path with the right spirit.

Step two, is very subtle. There would be unity, if that pesky 10% would just get in line. Why do they have to be so hard headed. He singled them out as a minority, inconsequential group of people who don't fall in line, they are destroying the SBC and the unity that comes if you are truly following the gospel, like JD. 

But, he made a blunder. It was almost perfect play. In order to take the high ground, you can't appeal to specifics. You have to be very vague in the the standard of unity. But once he appealed to the basis for unity, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, he stepped in it. So if that's the basis of their unity, and that's what they've agreed are important issues, then he has to live by them, right? Or are they Secondary Issues?


Woke Word of the Week.
I used to like The Gospel Coalition. That was before they became, as Phil Johnson said, more Coalition than Gospel. They have a podcast publishes a sermon of the week. Recently, it was one on Racism. 


You can search it out if you want to listen to it, but I'm not going to link to it. But there were a couple things I found interesting. One, he called out Billy Graham for holding segregated revivals. I didn't know that, so I looked it up and sure enough he did. But, what you didn't hear in this "sermons" was that he also stopped.
In the 1950s, the majority of southern white evangelicals worried that civil rights activism was a communist fifth column designed to win the Cold War by destroying racial harmony in the segregated South. Many white evangelists, like Billy Graham, accommodated that paranoia by holding segregated revival meetings in the South. However, Graham's racial views started to shift as he spent time overseas. He realized that segregation horrified global Christians, gave the Soviet's a gift-wrapped opportunity for propaganda, and was not supported in the Bible.

Graham's first integrated crusade was in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1953. After the ropes cordoning off the black section of the auditorium were removed, Graham told the ushers who threatened to put them back up, "Either these ropes stay down or you can go on and have the revival without me." From then on, Graham permanently adopted the policy of holding only integrated revivals.
He went after men running for SBC president for encouraging people to vote for "conservative, racist, republicans". Then, called out black preachers for not preaching what he thinks they ought to preach (ie, George Floyd, racism, etc). So much for their stand on exposition

Exposition
Speaking of exposition, Kevin D. Williamson wrote a good piece in National Review about the nonsensical LBTQ Supreme Court decision. 
This is not jurisprudence. This is magical thinking. The law says whatever the wizards in the black robes say it says, and they are not very particular about distinguishing between what it says and what they think it should say. If a few lawyers can pretend to be persuaded by an argument, and everybody who wants the outcome it would produce also can pretend to be persuaded by it, then who are you to hold out? Did you go to law school?

And so we must rely on the ladies and gentlemen in Washington to interpret the scriptures for us. Can we trust them to be honest brokers and evenhanded? Consider that the day before yesterday, gathering for a church service was a crime against humanity and getting a haircut in Georgia was to offer human sacrifice to Mammon. And then — poof! — gathering in gigantic crowds of non-socially distanced, sweaty protesters chanting and looting and rioting and burning was an absolute necessity for the survival of democracy and the cause of genuine justice. Consider that the right to keep and bear arms, which is actually found in the Constitution, is severely limited (unless you are leading a left-wing militia uprising in Seattle!), but the right to an abortion, which is found nowhere in the Constitution, is considered virtually absolute. “You can’t see the emperor’s new clothes? Well, we know what you are, then!”
You can read the rest HERE. It's really rather strange that we give these non-elected individuals the power to change our country however they see fit. It's not a legal question but an epistemology issue. Mr. Williamson, a Roman Catholic, I suppose, misses the irony that he opposes men and women in robes interpreting the law for them, does allow for men in robes to interpret the Scripture for him. It's also somewhat ironic, that many Christians who opposed exposition of the Scriptures from the pulpit are pretty angry over the fact that the Supreme Court made a decision by leaving the original intention of the law and finding new meaning and application. 

From the OED

Simony, n. The buying or selling of ecclesiastical or spiritual benefits; esp. the sale or purchase of preferment or office in the church. Also sometimes more generally: trading in sacred things.

Etymology: < (i) Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French symonie, simonie (late 12th cent.; French simonie ), and its etymon (ii) post-classical Latin simonia the buying or selling of ecclesiastical or spiritual benefits (11th cent.; frequently from 12th cent. in British sources) < the name of Simon Magus , who offered money to the Apostles in return for receiving spiritual gifts (Acts 8:18–19)