Tuesday, July 03, 2018

"Fake News" & "Fake Theology" Part 3

In this last post on the matter of “fake news” and its comparison to “fake theology” (Part 1, Part 2), I would like for us to consider what impact that “fake theology” ultimately has on a church.  When Murray takes an interlude in one of his chapters about truth, he wrote that truth has a tendency to create trouble.  The trouble the comes with biblical truth is that it demands something of every person—a demand to yield desires and their desired identity to what God is calling for.  In fact, John captured the words of Jesus when he said, “everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).  “Fake theology” will never make such a vigilant, sobering call because it CAN’T!!!!  “Fake theology” is literally the opposite of what God has spoken and even demanded of this fallen world of mankind.  The curse of sin is death and yet “fake theology” wouldn’t dare to tell anyone that even if they were to ask the question as to what the penalty of death really was.  “Fake theology” leaves a lot of casualties and spiritual fatalities in its wake.  What I have been keenly aware of is the fact that for the most part, the results of “fake theology” flies under the radar for several years before its effects are seen in the veering away from biblical truth and standards that have been forsaken.  The Emerging Church (Part 2) seems so far removed from us at this point and some may not even remember the foothold it gained in a group of pastors not too much younger than I am more than a decade ago.  I had some acquaintances who bought into it completely and their lives and ministries are either entirely shipwrecked or they have become enemies of the cross as Paul described them.  But the real problem is the “fake theology” that the EC managed to weave into the church that has now become very dominant in the thoughts of far too many Millennials.  The all-inclusiveness they were pushing in areas of doctrine, questioning the authority/inerrancy of Scripture, “lifestyle” differences, and social action has created so much chaos in the minds of people that biblical truth bounces off of their hardened hearts as they cry out for their particular social or political cause. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Fake News" & "Fake Theology" Part 2

In the last post, I recommended a book by Abdu Murray Saving Truth:  Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-TruthWorld, that Pastor Tony Mansinho had sent to me.  Murray’s first chapter really struck me in the fact that just as “fake news” has played a major role in shifting a lot of public thinking even though it isn’t true, “fake theology” has enormous eternal consequences due to its lack of truth as well.  There was another matter brought up in Murray’s chapter “Confusion and the Church:  Seductions of a Post-Truth Mindset” when he described that almost immediately after the US Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage another article got widespread dissemination throughout social media.  The article claimed a lawsuit was pending that would outlaw the Bible as hate-speech in the US.  Murray said that when he started reading and digging into the story, he described that it only took about three minutes to get to the root of the details and discover that this was an error that was being passed around as the truth.  The short of it was the case had been immediately dismissed because it had no basis in the law.  Murray put it in the category of an “alarmist” untrue story that had kernels of truth which it went far and wide on social media.  It is doubtful that very few really got to the truth of the matter.  He noted that this kind of thing makes Christianity look bad especially when we know that Jesus is the very core of all truth (John 14:6) and yet we who should be following him aren’t very careful and discerning about what we teach, preach, speak, or share with others.  Murray wrote that this creates a culture of confusion in the church. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

"Fake News" & "Fake Theology"

I have no idea how I managed to get into the good graces of Pastor Tony Mansinho who pastors Calvary Apostolic Church in Pittsburgh, PA.  In about a five-month period, he has sent me more than 50 books that have been of excellent quality and not just fillers for a bookshelf.  He has also shared several pics of his personal library and it is composed of a wide range theological works that I am confident would be stimulating to any pastor-theologian.  One of the books that he sent me was by Abdu Murray, Saving Truth:  Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-TruthWorld, published by Zondervan.  I was not familiar with this author but once I started reading, the compelling nature of it did not allow it to be easily put down.  As I read, highlighted and made marginal notes, my mind began to run down the proverbial rabbit trail. 

Murray spends time developing and proving the fact that the American church has lost its ability to think critically which in turn has greatly affected her ability to discern.  Furthermore, we are not only living in a post-modern generation but a post-truth world.  “Post-truth” was the 2016 Word of the Year which was selected by Oxford Dictionaries.  It means “relating or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”  Murray notes that this word actually had its origin in 1992 but by 2016 the usage of this word had ballooned 2000 percent.  He then made the connection to the last presidential election in 2016 and how that “fake news” ramped up a very emotionally charged run for the White House that resulted in what very few thought could happen.  The facts were dismissed for the sake of the personal agendas touted by politicians and their party affiliations.  Murry points out that this is the spirit of the age.  It has created a horrible atmosphere for our country that I do not recall ever having been present.    

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Old Man Pentecost

The New Year, 2018, has brought along its share of nostalgia, hope, and a bit of retrospect as to how far down the road I have come.  Some of the looking back could be due to a pretty significant health event that I endured this past July although thankfully I have made a near full recovery.  Even though I spent a number of years working in the medical field and was constantly made aware of the fleeting nature of life in others, it was brought home to me in a far more serious way when I was on the other end of a surgeon’s care.  Perhaps another reason that 2018 is a significant time for me is because it is the year that thirty years ago, I along with my wife were compelled to make a decision that entirely changed the direction of our lives.  In 1988, I attended my first Because of the Times, which is a minister’s conference hosted by the Pentecostals of Alexandria and led by Senior Pastor Anthony Mangun. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Book Recommendation - Text Driven Preaching: God's Word at the Heart of Every Sermon - Daniel L. Akin et al

I have long grown accustomed to the understanding that very few people really understand what is involved in truly good preaching.  Not motivational, encouraging, self-help ‘grab yourself by the bootstraps’ and just do it preaching but heart-felt, Scripturally-driven, Holy-Spirit anointed preaching.  It is this kind of preaching that not only will the preacher know that he has been on fire for God but the hearers of that message will realize that it is far more than just a time block that has been filled with religious routine.  But the challenge from getting to from a simple biblical text to that point of powerfully speaking for God has a lot of hindrances, snares, and traps that every preacher will at some point find in his sermon preparation.  Because I have now been preaching for almost thirty years, I find one of those ways that I can improve is to read books about preaching. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Recommendation--How to Understand and Apply the New Testament (Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology) by Andrew Naselli

I am always in the hunt for books that will help me to become a better expositor.  The longer that I preach the more convinced that I become that the best method for preaching is simple verse by verse preaching.  The matter of going through the Bible and allowing the power of God’s Word to speak for itself.  It requires discipline, attention, and time but the dividends that are repaid to the preacher cannot even be added up in this life.  However, to be an effective expositor especially if you do not have a seminary training in original languages will necessitate ways that will help you to overcome this.  I am one of those preachers who did not have a real deep exposure to original Greek in fact I only had one year of it and no Hebrew at all.  Admittedly there are times that I sorely wish that I would have had the necessary training in the original languages.  That is why good books (tools) are so crucial for our preparation to preach.  Good preaching is always hard work! 

A book that I can heartily recommend to those who are moving down the path of becoming an expository preacher is fairly intense but don’t be intimidated by my assessment of it.  In fact, if you look at the Table of Contents there might be a bit of hesitation to purchase this book.  But I would encourage you to purchase How toUnderstand and Apply the New Testament—Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology by Andrew David Naselli.  Just as a point of reference, Naselli, was a research fellow for D. A. Carson for a number of years and it is obvious that Carson’s impact on him was very advantageous.  This book helps to establish Genre, deal with Textual Criticism, compare Translations, work through Greek Grammar, prepare a Diagram, build the Historical-Cultural Context, and do Word Studies.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Thoughts on Brooks' Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices--Part 1

My appreciation for the Puritans seems to grow every year.  A couple of things moved me toward my interaction with the Puritans; one was a person and the other was book.  The person was a retired pastor, Ernie Jolley, and the other was a book that he gave to me.  It was written by Ralph Turnbull, The Minister’s Opportunities, which had a chapter about the priority of study and another on the minister’s library.  In those chapters, Turnbull really stressed finding out who the Puritans were and to begin to read after them.  I took Brother Jolley’s advice and started reading his recommendation of William Gurnall’s massive work, The Christian in Complete Armor, and I took a chance at what Ralph Turnbull recommended with Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

Thursday, April 06, 2017

A Morning in Thomasville with Ben Weeks

Recently I have spent a bit of time revisiting the Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.  One of the things that Bunyan seems to stress during the story is the need for friendship and fellowship along the way to the Celestial City.  Two of the more constant companions that Christian kept with him were two men, Faithful and Hopeful.  The way is difficult but through the avenue of friendship, Christian and his companions find the way to be much easier.  For more than ten years, I have been friends with Ben Weeks, pastor of Truth Harbor in Lake Park, Georgia which is just outside of Valdosta, Georgia.  He is a Christian gentleman of the finest sort and he has a renowned preaching ministry that has been widely received in all sorts of national and international venues—conferences, camp meetings, marriage retreats, and pastoral anniversaries.  For the last decade we have met at various times in Thomasville, Georgia, which is about half-way between Dothan and Valdosta to eat at Sonny’s BBQ and other little hole in the wall restaurants there to talk about the Bible, matters of theology and doctrine, preaching, church life and sometimes just the mundane insignificant things that take place in life. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Characters from Pilrim's Progress -- Great Heart

Over the last several posts, I have tried to analyze some of the characters of Pilgrim’s Progress that was written by John Bunyan in 1678.  We have visited with Ignorance, Evangelist, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Valiant for Truth, and Mr. Fearing.  These travelers will be ones that we meet along the way in our trek toward the Celestial City.  Bunyan’s observations of people in the 17th century still hold true for much of what we see in our times as well.  You can see for yourself that these people along the way very much fit into the category of Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poem about being a lifter or a leaner.  A lifter is someone who makes deposits of encouragement and hope into your life.  A leaner is one who great withdrawals and they will do so until you are literally sapped of emotional and spiritual strength.  Great Heart falls into the category of a man who was not just a lifter, he was a very heavy lifter.  He fills the role of a pastor whose calling and job it is to guide pilgrims to the shore of the river crossing that will lead to the Celestial City. 

He is a man who represents to us the hard work and necessary discipline that is required to do this great job.  There are some other pastors that Bunyan writes into the story as well.  Obviously, Evangelist fits the role of a pastor and he appears all throughout the life of Christian but there are specifically four others besides Evangelist and Great Heart.  Their names are Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Desire.  These four keep their watch from the mountain tops in the steep ranges where sheep are cared for in the pastures.  They care for the flocks and help the pilgrims primarily in two ways.  They use the alternating tools of hope and fear as they lead their charges.  They speak of hope when they mention the end of the destination that will have great glory.  They sometimes resort to using fear by warning of some well laid temptation will lead them to turning back to the cities and towns they came from.  Pastoral ministry in our day has never been more critically needed because of the great spiritual and moral drift and dire need for revival.  There are Great Hearts scattered all over God’s Kingdom who are literally carrying entire churches on their shoulders.  It is only in their absence that one really senses how important they are to us. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Characters from Pilgrim's Progress -- Mr. Fearing

To revisit Pilgrim’sProgress over the last couple of weeks has been a wonderful experience.  In one of the previous posts, I mentioned that I had originally been introduced to this fine book by Pastor John Harrell in Bridge City, Texas.  For years in Bridge City, the church has been shepherded by Brother Harrell’s preaching and praying and woven all through those years were numerous illustrations that he would pull from this book and masterfully use them in his sermons.  If you have never read Pilgrim’s Progress, my question is this:  What doth hinder thee?  Perhaps that is a humorous way to express it but in all seriousness, the book opens up the mind an awareness that human behavior is no different in the 1600’s than it is in 2017. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Characters from Pilgrim's Progress -- Valiant for Truth

There are aspects of John Bunyan’s famous allegory Pilgrim’s Progress that have more details as you read on through the second portion of it concerning Christian’s wife and children who flee from the City of Destruction.  As their story unfolds, we read about some events that Christian went through but is not as detailed in the first half of the story as he is relating a first person account.  The story told by one of those characters in the second half is who I want us to visit with now.  The character is Valiant for Truth.  What a powerful name that Bunyan picks out for this young man, this young soldier, this young minister.  Bunyan is playing off Jeremiah 9:3 where the weeping prophet notes that there are some who aren’t valiant for the truth.  One of the chief characteristics of John Bunyan is pointed out by Charles Spurgeon and it is observed very clearly in this segment of the allegory.  Spurgeon noted that in reading all of Bunyan’s works and actually having read Pilgrim’s Progress more than 100 times, he said that when you read Bunyan, “he bleeds bibline.”  That means that his writings are so loaded with Scripture that you cannot help but notice how familiar that Bunyan is with the Word and he brings forth its application to us in a very helpful way. 

"Fake News" & "Fake Theology" Part 3

In this last post on the matter of “fake news” and its comparison to “fake theology” ( Part 1 , Part 2 ), I would like for us to conside...