12/31/2009

Goals

I have a habit of reflecting on life, especially around the end of the year. This year I evaluated my goals that I made for 2009 and set out new goals for 2010.

This year had some really exciting blessings and of course some other difficult matters. It was not a bad year for me. I take the advice of my friend and can successfully say that I had the best year of my life while still being able to look forward to an even better "best year" ahead in 2010. For me and my friend we do not want to be one of those people that are constantly living in the past to "back in the day," remembering the "best times of old."

A lot of it is psychological, if you want to have a good year, you can. First off plan ahead, set goals for a good future and follow through. Seek the Lord! Pray for your needs and for your next year. Stay true to your relationship with God. he loves you and wants to bless you. Although it is a relationship and it takes work. Also keep a positive outlook and don't live in the past. Remember what God has been blessing you with. Don't forget the help of good quality friends, they are essential. Life of materials and money will let you down, but good friends who are there for you are irreplaceable.

So how did I do in 2009? Did I accomplish my goals that I had set?

For the most part, yes. When I set out the goals for 2009, I was in a different place than I am in now. I was in a rut in many areas of my life. I was glad to be where I was, but I began to get frustrated and burnt-out. Fortunately God had plans to motivate me and He showed me a lot of new things that challenged and grew me this year!

This year in ministry, Pastor Bill began mentoring me personally. I changed my primary ministry from youth to a more broad ministry perspective. I began the process of becoming an ordained minister and may have even found a calling in Chaplaincy.

Wow, that was a lot of motivating yet challenging changes. Since I left teaching the youth, I still had a strong desire to teach. My pastor has began opening up opportunities to teach and preach but our church is small. Fortunately though a good friend of mine had a vision to start a worship night and felt the Holy Spirit directing him to ask me to preach at these events! So know I still have the opportunity to teach on a regular basis.

This group of guys that had the idea for a worship night also hold a Bible study for College and career age people. I have been able to develop deep friendships with each of them! That has been one of the best blessings and encouragements through-out this past year. I had been in a rut spiritually and socially since I left Ohio University because I left a world of fellowship and discipleship. I lived in an apartment of strong Christian buddies, I was part of the Campus Crusade movement and I loved it. After leaving campus, I was alone and my church is small and does not offer the same kind of fellowship and spiritual excitement for college age people. Now that fire, passion and fellowship is back! These friends have really helped me a lot in accomplishing my goals spiritually this year.

One of my goals was to become a better saver and plan for the future. I have invested in the stock market, money markets and CD Savings accounts. I purchased a newer, safer, better fuel efficient vehicle.

My biggest problem this past year: wasting time online: facebook, popurls, the oatmeal, etc.

For 2010:

It is all about fitness. And not just physical fitness but all-around fitness:
1. Physically - I need to get in Army shape if I am going to become an Army Chaplain. I started doing this late summer, but injured my ankle. I recovered from that and now it is cold outside. Now I am just being a wimp.
2. Mentally/Time management - less time online, more time sharping my mind doing other things.
3. Spiritually - more consistent study. I am starting a reading plan to go through the entire Bible within the year.
4. Prayer life - more often and less about me.
5. Purity
6. financially- continue saving, sorry Wafflehouse, whom I do love.


All-around fitness, tweeking myself.

Final thoughts, I desire to share my faith continually and begin discipleship and deep growth in the Word with those who will follow. Despite any of my plans, I desire to do God's will. Amen.

12/28/2009

Augustine as mentor review

Smither, Edward L. Augustine as Mentor: A Model for Preparing Spiritual Leaders. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic: 2008.

Augustine as Mentor: A Model for Preparing Spiritual Leaders written by Edward Smither is a very through, well-documented undertaking that discovers what Augustine of Hippo thought about mentoring, as well as revealing who mentored him and how he mentored others. The purpose of the book is to glean methods of discipleship from Augustine and other church fathers. The book repetitively summarizes and offers clusters and nuggets of information about discipleship in the 4th and 5th Century. The book could have offered more about how Christians should apply this information in modern church.
Edward Smithers is an assistant professor of Church History and Intercultural Studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. The book originally began as a doctoral thesis. He believes “many pastors today . . . are struggling in isolation without a pastor to nurture their souls ” If this spiritual isolation impacts church leaders today then what is the solution to escape the dilemma? Augustine as Mentor attempts to address this issue looking back at the beginning of the Church (including Jesus and Paul) and focuses in on another one of its giants (Augustine) as a leader and mentor.
The book is five chapters long plus a preface, 2-page epilogue and nice index. The first two chapters deals with mentoring and discipleship in general, and specifically of mentoring in the first century among the early church. Then the book focuses in on Augustine. First by looking at who mentored him. Then looking at who and how Augustine himself mentored. This chapter was the longest, at 88 pages. It examined forty years of ministry evaluating numerous letters, books and preaching and supervisory method as examples of how Augustine discipled both subordinates and fellow bishops. Then in chapter five, looking at what Augustine thought about mentoring in both a personal and general level. The epilogue was useful, but was quite short. It is a little odd and inappropriate to have over two-hundred and fifty pages of facts and details about the matter of mentoring and discipleship then only leave two pages for reflective application. Although on Smither’s behalf, the facts do speak for themselves in many ways. The book is so detailed and well-researched clustered with so many facts about how these great men discipled and mentored, most readers find practical application through-out the book as they read. For Jesus, Paul, Augustine and his mentors and mentees all modeled the practical application through-out history. Smither is encouraging the reader to make use of their examples.
As one might assume, Smither’s greatest points deal with the principles of mentoring and discipleship. For one, Augustine believed that there was a direct correlation between sound teaching and correct living. Sound teaching is the center of discipling direction. The Word of God fits in the discipleship relationship. Smither believes that a mentor is always a learning disciple. Mentors some have a lifelong commitment to growing as a disciple through demonstrating humility and transparency. Augustine did this by his own example. While he was Bishop and a mentor; he stayed committed to ascetic living in the context of community. He demonstrated humility by inviting others' input. His pride was continually killed.
As a theologian he was more concerned with giving others a “living faith” versus “religious propositions.” As seen in his works, Augustine had continuous theological development. A mentor must be a committed mature disciple to the Lord and committed to making the discipleship relationship a priority.
When mentoring others a key component for success is the group context. Jesus mentored primarily 12 men. Among those 12 he focused in on three in particular. The context of the group and group size will play a role in how these men should be mentored. Augustine sent letters and books to councils (a small group) of men months/weeks before the council was to meet. The material he provided gave these men a resource to engage them on the topic in advance. Other times Augustine meet with his disciples one-on-one with a personal visit. And many occasions a personal letter was an appropriate form of communication.
The selection of a disciple is usually based on an existing relationship. I agree with this point in real life application, although Jesus Christ pulled off an immediate discipleship relationship with his twelve disciples without their knowledge of any previous relationship. Only Jesus Christ could successfully defy that principle.
As suggested through-out the book another principle is that the discipler is a model fit for imitation by his disciple. Not only does the mentor model but he even should look for opportunities to involve his disciple in practical ministry this is important because the discipler is aware that he will release the disciple to lead ministry. Even after the disciple is released into ministry, the mentor is a continual resource to the released disciple.
The only part of the book that delved into any kind of emotion from Smither, was the epilogue. Smither points out that in America, Christianity is unfortunately becoming Bibleless. This country is so rushed to be productive and get everything else done that the Bible and spiritual faith is neglected. Smither is emotional here because he is passionate about this topic. This is what all of his research boils down to. He realizes that the early church and the church fathers spent time together in their process of making disciples. They spent time studying the Word together in a community setting. They prayed together and ate together. Smither realizes that Western Christians need to slow down and put emphasizes on the Body of Christ (which needs each other to survive) and the Word of God which tells us to “make disciples.” These things require time but time that must be made for discipleship.

12/21/2009

Augustine as mentor excerpts

Augustine as Mentor is a book I reviewed written by Edward Smithers. Here are some points that really stuck out:

Mentoring or discipleship is the work of one Christian helping another (or group of them) grow in their knowledge and application of the teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures to realize the fullness of their salvation.

Mentoring includes guiding and helping disciples live holy. It gets messy but it is so important.

Sound teaching is a key component to mentoring/discipleship.

This book had some very good and interesting points. Not everyone would enjoy reading it because it reads like a theological/historical thesis's.I will post my review here in the near future.

12/20/2009

Christ's Mass

It is cliché to say let’s bring Christ back in Christmas but ironically that is not really the case…

This might be sermon you have heard before if you are a seasoned Christian, especially around the Christ MAS Season. Did you catch that? The word Christmas was originally known as Christ’s Mass. A phrase first recorded in 1038 AD. Which symbolizes Christ’s death as a "death sacrifice." So by saying, "Merry Christmas", we are literally saying "Merry death of Christ!" Although the celebration that looks exactly like the American “Christmas” was celebrated in the same way up to 2000 years BEFORE Christ’s birth!

That is right 2000 years…the traditions of this holiday (the tree, the evergreen, the holly, the mistletoe, the bells, the caroling and even the gift giving and charity) were all traditions of ancient middle eastern/ and early Roman pagan holidays. In fact there is reference to these festivities in Jeremiah 10. I could spend an hour going through all these traditions and explaining how they came about…it is so interesting! I personally spent a lot of hours recently studying these and I think that you would find much of the history fascinating. The main festivity was that of worshiping the sun. Other traditions were added as the years went on Santa Clause for instance was added in the fourth century. There actually was a St. Nicholas who was extremely generous in his gift giving especially t children who had been well-behaved.

Even the date, Dec 25th is not original to Christians. The sun god festivals ere first celebrated from Dec. 17-25. It was not until the fourth Century that Christians also adopted this date to eclipse the pagan festival and give people a good reason to celebrate, that being Jesus.
Otherwise Dec. 25th is a very interesting date to pick. We have to match up the Word of God with reality if we are going to curiously consider this date. The final answer is that God did not lay out a date of Christ’s birth for us to know. We do know that Caesar was collecting taxes and many people were traveling to their hometowns to pay their tribute and be counted while Mary was pregnant. (Prego). Taking this into consideration it is more likely that the Caesar would collect taxes closer to harvest when the weather is nicer and the food supply is more abundant than it is in the colder times of Dec.

We also see that in Luke 2:8 tells us (whatever night it was) that the shepherds were in the field that night and the angel told the m about Christ’s birth. It is not unreasonable for shepherds to be out in the field year round if the weather permitted them to be outside. The winter months can be slightly colder and could potentially offer more precipitation than the summer or fall months. Even still,, the mean December temperatures for Palestine is around 40 degrees. So a warm night in December could potentially be a nice near 50 degrees. So the weather issue could go either way. So in conclusion Dec 25th is not unreasonable. But the main point is that it is not important. My point is to disregard looking for a solid answer to the question of “what day was Jesus born” and instead focus on the reason why WE as Christians are celebrating.

At this point there are several approaches I could go with this sermon and similarly different approaches to looking at Christmas in light of all that has been pointed out. Some people will try and oppose all of the pagan traditions of these holiday times and say that Christmas is a diabolical paradox because it is not focused on Jesus Christ’s birth. In fact, there are some that say that Christmas is a blasphemous holiday and are very much against it because it is more or less mocking Jesus. Then they is the more lenient, liberal approach which suggests that it is not such a bad thing that the Church wanted to bring Christ into a pagan holiday. This blending and mixing of ideas is acceptable and legitimate. That is why the Dec. date was chosen in the first place to compete with and evangelize Jesus despite pagan tradition.

The approach I am taking is a mix of the two. I have grown up in the American materialistic version of the holiday season but I also grow up remembering the reason for the season. I enjoy both giving and receiving presents, decorating the house, singing seasonal songs, and all of those little traditions but I do not let these little things stress me out. I do not make a huge deal of them and above all of these things, I celebrate Jesus Christ as Savior. I thank God that He was born and remember what He did for me. I recall the life of Jesus Christ. It is not so much a “merry bloody death of Christ” – but it is about Christ and on the other hand it is not a huge festivity where I am focused on competing to see how many gifts I get. The traditions are not sinful in themselves. Insomuch as that we remember what Christ’s Mass is all about: It is about Jesus Christ.

At some point in time Jesus Christ was born of a virgin Mary while they were in the town of Bethlehem to pay taxes and be counted for the census. When the couple arrived to the town the inn had no room for them. He realized that she was pregnant and could offer a manger/a stable. After such a long journey to Bethlehem and a wife who is in the most painful final stages of childbirth, Joseph as got to be thinking…”really? This is where my child, one who is to be called Jesus is to be born?” But being a good godly man, he carries Mary to the most comfortable spot, clears away the animals and builds a fire while saying a prayer to the Father! The Christ child is born in the humble manger. Later that evening shepherds would come and worship him directed by an angel.

Still almost two years later, a caravan of wise men would come and bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. At this point it is likely that Mary and Joe have moved out of the manger and into a house. These wise men were directed by a star. It is also likely that there were many more than “three” wise men or “kings,” as three wise men carrying three gifts might work logically it is simply not logistically sound because of safety issues and robbery. It is likely that more than three men made the trip in a caravan. These men gave a gift and did not expect or receive any gift in return except to be graced by the presence of Christ as a child.

This is the story of Christ’s birth according to the Word of God. I encourage you to check it out this week despite all the business of the holidays take time and remember Christ! Many of us are too busy planning His party to seek His will or grieve His absence. Let’s enjoy His grace and His presence as we celebrate His birthday. Let’s celebrate Christ this Christ’s mass!

12/05/2009

my ridiculous lifestyle

What is wrong with me? I got a seasonal first shift job so I am still making money since UPSF has put me "on call" for the winter. It works perfect when I am not called in but when I do work both jobs my life is ridiculous:

Here is an example:

4:30AM - wake up
- shower, pack lunch, eat breakfast/leftovers, start car,

5-5:45AM drive to work

6AM-2:30PM - Seasonal job

2:30-4:30 - Panera Bread napping and/or School work
(from 3:30-4:30 I am waiting for call from UPSF boss to see if I am working)

4:30-5 - eat dinner somewhere in Columbus ( if I am called into work, and depends on what I want) If not called in drive home

5-5:30 - drive to UPS Freight
If not called-in - eat dinner

6-10PM - work at UPSF
(or school work from 6-9PM if not called in and bed time at 9/9:30PM)

10-10:30PM - drive home

11PM-4:30AM - SLEEP

12/01/2009

Monastic living

What about monks? Why did monks like Antony (anchorites) pursue the solitude of the desert? Why did the coenobites like Pachomius prefer community? What monastic principles are helpful for present day non-monks?

Some Christians wanted to escape the contamination and distractions of the church and world so they became monks. The word “monk” derives from the Greek monachos, which means ‘solitary.’ There were two approaches to the pursuit of solitude. Solo monks wished to escape the bad and evilness of the world completely and hide in the desert to pursue holiness with God completely away with God and away from sin and man. The other method was that of the Coenobites who were monks that lived in community with one another. They also sought holiness and desired to be away from the world and its worldliness.

Both approaches do have their flaws. While I respect their purist for holiness I think that the monks miss the mark in other areas. For solo monks like Anthony, where does evangelism come into light? Whom is witnessing your relationship with God? Are we not called to live as ‘salt and light?’ Are we not to live “in but not of the world?’ Where does Jesus say flee this world completely? Yes we are to die to ourselves but not die of our fellow man. Also on that note, are we not also called to have fellowship with the body of Christ? Are we called to ‘continue meeting together? Is not the body of Christ dependent upon the other parts of the body?

For the Coenobites…the same questions that I just scrutinized Anthony with apply except the last two. Instead though I have replacement questions. In light of living amongst other monks, would not pride begin to set in once monks felt that they had arrived at perfection? Once they have gone out of their way to live without evil and sin, there is pride, a sin… Ironic, huh? Also even if this group was a decent group of monks, then all you really have is a group of monks who set themselves apart from the world. Again, aren’t we called to be a light to the world and not hide our light in the darkness of the dessert?
There are some excellent concepts and principles that non-monks, even Western Christians can learn from. While these monks may have error on taking pursuit and holiness too far, we today in America are in error on not having enough purity and holiness. We walk and sometimes enjoy crude Comedy Central humor. We accept half naked people dancing and displaying themselves in our “popular music” We are entertained by rated R movies were cursing, sex and violence are the acceptable norms. I am not trying to offer a solution to all this. I admit I am clustering a lot of things together just to make this simple point, but the point is that we also are called to “be holy, just as I am holy.”

Another principle of monastic living is the idea of surrender. The monks had to give up all their goods and submit to authorities before becoming a monk. They had to die to themselves daily. They had to fast two or three days a week. They had to sacrifice all of their time. They had a lot of surrendering to do. In America, all we think about is what can we achieve? What can we gain/profit? Especially during the holidays/Christmas… American Christians are trained to be materialistic even before they are Christians ( from birth!) So this is another difficult thing we must learn to control.
The concept of time and community of monastic living is something Western Christians really need to consider! The monks had quality fellowship and quality relationships with one-another. They had quality discipleship because they invest a lot of time and effort in their discipleship practices! America is so rushed that we are becoming a Bibleless Christianity. This country is so rushed to be productive and get everything else done that the Bible and spiritual faith is neglected. The early church and the church fathers spent time together in their process of making disciples. Making disciples requires time. When quality time is spent developing a disciple if that time is sent in the Word of God, then Sound doctrine follows. No post-modernism crap!
Another great concept that you do see in great American churches that we also saw in monastic living is the idea of entrusting others with ministry. A ministry is never one person’s, except the Lord’s. Part of discipleship is encouraging and helping others to reach their full potential. They will be able to use their spiritual gifts to continue the ministry.

11/28/2009

How do we "do discipleship" with with all people?

I have a heart for certain people and I do not know how "disciple" them. The traditional ways of meeting with them on a regular basis to get into their life, to pray with them and read the Bible together does not seem to be attractive to them....


- People who do not care about spiritual things, who do not want to talk about faith (if they have any at all). How do you evangelize this person?
- Ty
-Dustin
-People who are way too busy.
-People who are not committed.
-People who are annoying and hard to love.
- People who have been rejected by the church before.


Should true discipleship be narrow (Jesus really focused on three and then 12 then the masses. He used "concentric circles" of those who wanted to be disciples....)


I love these people. I want to see them grow their respective faiths. I have tried to show them why getting into the Word together is so important, yet they always have excuses. Maybe they are too busy or have bad priorities but what can we do to help these kinds of people? (And the others mentioned above?)

11/21/2009

Seasonal Work

Reasons for the employee to work hard:

Leave a good impression for future FT hirings
It is only for a season, I will get through it
Extra money! (If they like me they will keep me)
Setting a good example, being a good Christian

Reasons for the employee to not care:

It is only a seasonal "second job," I could call it off today...
It does not matter it is only a temporary job...who cares
Extra money! (I get paid by the hour)


Reasons for the boss to treat them poor:

They are just temps, who cares
This is there job, they do what I say no matter how ridiculous! Weekends are mandatory!

Reasons for the boss to treat them well:

They are extra needed help
They like them, want to help them out

11/16/2009

working on the Lord's Day

What do you think about working on the Lord's Day?

My brother, who may or may not kill me if he know I was using him as an example, although he never reads my blog anyways, always works for a pizza company on Sunday evenings.

I've never cared for him working on Sundays. I believe in resting and worshiping our risen Savior on Sundays. While my brother does rest and worship at church in the AMs, it is still working on the Lord's Day isn't it?

But then I would also be guilty when I choose to work on school projects and homework on Sunday evening also...right?

What do you think?

11/14/2009

My "PC"

Most people who know me, know that I try not to be insensitive, (especially when it comes to race and 'diversity') but but when it comes to my faith and politics, I can be bold and blunt. Although today at work I was very politically correct(PC) and it felt weird...

At work they had "mandatory Saturday and mandatory Sunday." For one thing I was a little angry because when they hired me on, they knew that I worked at UPS Freight on Saturdays and that I go to church every Sunday (yes, one of those guys). Having Sundays off was "not a problem" for the person who hired me. And he made no mention of this "mandatory Saturdays and Sundays." Although apparently there was "limited" communications (hilarious inside job if you know where I am working) between the hiring staff and the actual managers. So I called off of work at UPS Freight so that I could be a good seasonal employee (besides the fact that I made more money and got more hours at the seasonal job.) While these mandatory weekend days are not every weekend, I was still shocked that nobody told me about this in advance!

Anyways..."My PC" event this morning to boss: "I will not be at work tomorrow (Sunday) because I have a leadership role at a spiritual institution that I am committed to...."

Could i have been any more vague? I knew that my boss could not deny a committed spiritual zealot from his service. And if he wanted to challenge the truth to the statement all he has to do is "google" my name - it will appear on my church's website, my blog/facebook - both which show the passion I have for my church.

Anyways in case my boss is reading this post. I will leave it at that. I just needed to reflect and thought that this political correctiveness on my part was entertaining, liberal, odd and not like me at all! I honestly feel weird abut that statement although it is true.

10/10/2009

Do you watch Chad Vader?

I recently found out about Chad Vader, brother of Darth, from a new friend and I am addicted to this series. If you have never seen any of them you can watch all of them in under 2 hours, it is great!



9/12/2009

"Light Duty "Irony

If you know of me in real life you know that I recently sprained my right ankle. It is fine now but at work my boss has not let me do any regular work since the doctor has put me on "restrictions."

This has been quite annoying, boring and challenging because the type of work I am doing is boring, annoying, not my regular work and actually painful. You see at UPS Freight, my job description is simple: move skidded freight from one door to another on a forklift as a dockworker.

My boss will not let me move freight while the doctor has me on restrictions so he has been making me sweep the dock, sweep the dock pad, pick up trash, fix the chains, check the fire extinguishers, pick up cardboard and generally clean the dock. In other words I have been on my feet and on my ankle for hours straight. (Instead of being on a forklift for hours.)

I do not blame my doctor really. He is helping my ankle heal by restricting me. I do blame my boss. I understand that he is protecting the company and attempting to obey the doctor's orders. Although hi honestly think he does not know what he is doing because I am on my ankle MORE these past weeks of "light duty" than I have ever walked on the dock at this job! It is ridiculous.
Being on my ankle a lot has been painful.

I have complained about it and told him straight up that I think that he is taking the idea of protecting the company too far and actually hurting my ankle/making it worse than if I was working normally.

My boss will say it is for the good of my ankle but it is not helping.

9/03/2009

Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election (Bibliography and Appendix A)

Appendix A

Arminianism

Calvinism

1. The decree of salvation applies to all who believe on Christ and who persevere in obedience and faith.

1. Total depravity.

2. Christ died for all men.

2. Unconditional election.

3.The Holy Spirit must help men to do

things that are truly good (such as having

faith in Christ for salvation.)

3. Limited Atonement. (Christ's death for the elect.)

4. God's saving grace is not irresistible

It is possible for Christians to fall from

grace.

4. Irresistible Grace.

5. Perseverance of the saints.

From:

Tangelder, Johan D. “The Doctrine of Election.” From the Pastor's Desk. (1989 - 1993). Retrieved from http://www.reformedreflections.ca/pages/pastor-desk-index.html accessed on July 29th, 2009.

Bibliography

Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Mi: Zonderzan, 1994.

Patton, Michael. “Introduction to Theology – Workbook.” (presented as part of class material at The Theology Program, Frisco, TX, November 2006), Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/content/files/TTP/IT/IntroductiontoTheologyWorkbook-Jul-2006.pdf.

Yarnell III, Malcolm B. “Assessing the ‘TULIP’ of Calvinism.” SBC LIFE. (2009). Baptist Press. Retrieved from http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=22971 accessed on Aug. 1st, 2009.

MacArthur Jr, John. “Is the Doctrine of Election Biblical?” Adapted from The Body Dynamic. (1996.) Christian Art Distributors. Retrieved from http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/GTYW02.htm accessed on Aug. 1st, 2009.

Towns, Elmer L. “WHAT SHOULD SOUTHERN BAPTIST DO WITH CALVINIST?” The Baptist Banner, March 2009, Vol. XXII, No.3.

Tangelder, Johan D. “The Doctrine of Election.” From the Pastor's Desk. (1989 - 1993). Retrieved from http://www.reformedreflections.ca/pages/pastor-desk-index.html accessed on July 29th, 2009.

Patterson, Paige. “Happy Southern Baptists and the Tricky Track.”SBC Today. (2005.) Retrieved from sbctoday.com/files/trickytrack.pdf accessed on July 20th, 2009.

Thompson, Philip E. "Baptists and "Calvinism" : discerning the shape of the question." Baptist History and Heritage, Spring 2004. (April 01, 2004). accessed July 11, 2009.

Hinson, Keith. "Calvinism resurging among SBC's young elites." Christianity Today 41, no. 11. (October 06, 1997): 86. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 1, 2009).

Walker, Ken. "TULIP Blooming." Christianity Today 52, no. 2. (February 2008): 19-19. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost(accessed August 2, 2009).

Hansen, Collin. "Young, restless, reformed : Calvinism is making a comeback--and shaking up the church." Christianity Today Sep 2006. (September 01, 2006). Christian Periodical Index, EBSCOhost (accessed August 1, 2009).

Jones, Jim. "Tiptoeing through TULIP." Christianity Today 53, no. 4. (April 2009): 13-13. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed July 11, 2009).

McKibbens, Thomas R. “Disseminating Biblical Doctrine Through Preaching.” Baptist History and Heritage Spring 1984. (April 1984).Accessed on July 11, 2009.

Weaver, Douglas and Finn, Nathan. “Youth for Calvin: Reformed Theology and Baptist Collegians.” Baptist History and Heritage, Spring 2004.Accessed on July 10, 2009.

Nettles, Thomas. “SOUTHERN BAPTIST IDENTITY: INFLUENCED BY CALVINISM.” Baptist History and Heritage, Oct. 1996.Accessed Aug. 1, 2009.

Wood, Ralph. "What Ever Happened to Baptist Calvinist?” Review and Expositor, 91 (1994).

NASB (New American Standard Bible.) La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation, 1995.

Sproul, R.C. “Double Predestination.” Ligonier Ministries: renewing Your Mind. Retrieved from http://www.the-highway.com/DoublePredestination_Sproul.html , Accessed on Aug. 10, 2009.

Handy, Robert T. "The Baptist family : a heritage of faith." Review & Expositor 84, no. 4. (Fall 1987): 589-598. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed July 11, 2009).

Secondary:

Richards, Wiley W. “SOUTHERN BAPTIST IDENTITY: MOVING AWAY FROM CALVINISM” W. Baptist History and Heritage, Oct. 1996.Accessed Aug. 1, 2009.

Briggs, John. “The Influence of Calvinism on Seventeenth-Century English Baptists.” Baptist History and Heritage, Spring 2004.Accessed on July 10, 2009.

Elwell, Walter. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mi: Baker Academic, 2001.

9/02/2009

Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election (8)

Conclusion

Baptists are free to be Arminian, one-point Calvinist, or even five-point Calvinists. Baptists have the free will power to choice. When it comes to the doctrine of election, Baptist can find reasonable Biblical grounds to the idea that God desires to save all men and also Biblical argument that God only saves “an elect.” Like the other 4 points of Calvinism, there is some wiggle room in-between the two extremes of “human free will” and “double predestination.” In fact, the Bible advocates a modest, middle ground.

Throughout Christianity’s history, people from both sides of the argument have inspired division and conflict because of this man-made argument. "[T]he greatest tragedy is when adherence to TULIP leads to division in churches and prevents them from cooperation and urgency for, a passion toward fulfilling the Great Commission.[1]" Young Calvinists value theological systems far less than God and his Word. It is more important to evaluate the Word of God and let it speak for itself. "Southern Baptists are first, last, and always followers of Jesus Christ, not John Calvin."[2] Let each man evaluate the Word of God for himself and decide according to God Word. After fair Biblical treatment and in light of grace, one will come to decide that the Calvinistic doctrine of election is the most Biblical one.



[1] Malcolm Yarnell III, “Assessing the ‘TULIP’ of Calvinism.” Pg. 1.

[2] Collin Hansen. "Young, restless, reformed,” pg. 38.

9/01/2009

Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election (7)

Biblical Solution

Elmer Towns is honestly on to something. There is room for middle ground. Christians need to be cautious of any extreme view. The most Biblical solution is not an extreme view of hyper-Calvinism or the complete concept of “free will”. These are man-made concepts. Within the five-points of Calvinism there is a lot of wiggle room. Any given person who is seeking a “biblical solution” for Calvinism may decide to agree with Calvin on one point to a small degree and then completely disagree with another one of his points completely. While another person might decide that the most “biblical solution” is complete acceptance of all five-points in Calvinism! It is a false dichotomy to leave only two options: Calvinist or Arminius.

God elects people to salvation by His own sovereign choice and not because of some future action they will perform or condition they will meet. BUT... Election does not exclude human responsibility or the necessity of each person to respond to the gospel by faith. Admittedly the two concepts don’t seem to go together. However, both are true separately, and we must accept them both by faith. We may not understand it, but rest assured—it’s fully reconciled in the mind of God[1]. Both are biblical! Calvin is correct saying that God takes the initiative to save sinful sinners who cannot save themselves. The point of argument is to what degree do man work with God?

John Piper brings an interesting point to the table. "You may never feel the weight, you will never feel the wonder of grace, until you finally relinquish your claim to have any part of your salvation," he said. "It's got to be unconditional."[2] If man is fallen and can only be reconciled by God, meaning God takes the imitative for salvation (Arminius might not agree with me up to this point[3]) then it follows that election and grace are unconditional. God chooses who He pleases. It is a free gift. Man did nothing to earn it, in fact, man is the one who chose to be fallen, man chose to sin.

Some objections that come up are: Is election fair? Think about it this way. Sin is punishable by death. All men deserved death and punishment. The fact that God chooses to save even some of us is demonstration of His grace. Secondly, who are we, mere humans, to decide if what God does is fair? If God ultimately decided to create some creatures to be saved and others not to be saved, then that was his sovereign choice. Ultimately, grace is not fair either.[4]

Another objection is that God wills to save everyone, right? While it is true that God desires to save everyone according to 1 Tim. 2:4 and 2 Pt. 3:9, there is one thing that God desires even more than that, His glory. God will do what most glorifies Himself. Men might not ever understand or know what brings God the most glory.[5] Arminians ask, “If God chooses to save some people from the beginning of time, why do evangelism?” But this question can be turned right back at them, “If God wills to save everyone, why do evangelism?” here in the Arminian argument, it sounds like God is going to do all the work, magically everyone will be saved. This sort of thinking leads to universalism. Karl Barth turned the doctrine of election into a thing of joy when he discovered that the entire world, no matter what religion, was elected in Jesus Christ.[6]

With a complete Biblical and moderate, not extreme, understanding of Calvin’s teachings many of these objections go away. "I felt like Calvinism was more than abstract points of theology," said Cochran, 25. "I felt you would get a much bigger view of God if you accepted these things, an understanding of justice and grace that would so deepen your affections for God, that would make you so much more grateful for his grace.[7]" For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.[8] It is not about what man can do or does. Man does not earn salvation. God gives it by grace. This Calvinist and Biblical way of thinking, in the context of a personal relationship with God should spur evangelism. It is this understanding of grace in light of the doctrine of election that Baptists need to get back to, much like the when J. T. Daggs wrote his Manuel of Theology.



[1] John MacArthur Jr. Is the doctrine of election Biblical? Adapted from The Body Dynamic. (1996.) Christian Art Distributors. Retrieved from http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/GTYW02.htm accessed on Aug. 1st, 2009, pg. 1.

[2] Collin Hansen. "Young, restless, reformed,” pg. 37.

[3] Which is ironic, in my own personal opinion, I am not sure how Arminius does not see that. –He chooses not to! The one who advocates “free will” cannot understand that free will got us into total depravity and in need of reconciliation. But this is another argument for another paper on Total depravity!

[4] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. Pg. 681

[5] Ibid, pg 683.

[6] Ralph Wood, "What Ever Happened to Baptist Calvinist?,” pg. 597.

[7] Collin Hansen. "Young, restless, reformed,” pg. 38

[8] NASB. Eph. 2:8,9.

8/31/2009

My talk on humility

My talk from Community 242 worship Night in Lancaster, Oh on Humility from the book : "Cross Cultural Servanthood" by Daute Elmer:


Tell me what you think. It is pretty short and sweet.

Alex

Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election (6)

Current Trends

Some general statistics regarding theological trends show that Calvinism is growing among younger Baptists who are coming out of seminary. [1] [2] The number of Calvinist faculty dramatically increased [starting in the 1980s and] over the next 20 years.[3] Many current professors/faculty earned spots in the more conservative Universities during the Southern Baptists’ “inerrancy battles.” The theologically conservative Calvinists were well-suited for the jobs and their influence has made the "newest generation of Southern Baptist ministers... the most Calvinist we have had in several generations.”[4]While only 10 percent of Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) pastors identify themselves as Calvinists, nearly 30 percent of recent seminary graduates do. [5] Universities and churches are realizing that these Calvinist followers are the most theologically accurate compared to their Arminius colleges.[6] There is a trend for studying the great and former Puritan thinkers and pastors. Part of the reason why college-age Calvinists are excited about dead Puritans is because it is mostly Puritans who have fueled this latest resurgence of Calvinism. Among the Puritans, Edwards is most popular.[7]

With all that said, there is also another trend among some of the SBC leaders. These leaders do not consider themselves Calvinist and are wary of Calvinism. Frank Page worries that extremists could undermine the SBC's emphasis on outreach. [8] William Estep considers Calvinism “logically anti-missionary.” Estep went on to say that it robs Christians of responsibility for conduct and is marked by intolerance, divisiveness and naughtiness. [9] Elmer Towns, who is cautious like Estep and Page to see Calvinism at work in SBC, gives conflicting data in his article. On one hand, “churches pastored by Calvinists tend to have smaller attendance and typically baptize fewer persons each year.[10]” Then on the other hand, Elmer points out that Calvinists have the same statistics as non-Calvinistic Southern Baptists. There is no significant difference between the two groups. Other research shows that it is not just Calvinist Baptists churches that are “losing zeal for evangelism.” In fact, Evangelical Churches in America failed to gain an additional 2% of population in the past 50 years. No county in America has a greater percentage of churched people for a decade. While the population in America has increased 11%, church attendance has decreased 9% in that ten year time span.[11] The point is that American evangelical churches, as a whole, are struggling with evangelism. It is incorrect for these SBC leaders to put a larger amount of blame on Calvinism, while their own churches are ironically and hypocritically struggling similarly with evangelism in this post-modern age.

There is no significant difference between the evangelism occurring in Calvinist versus non-Calvinist churches. In fact, the research by Ed Stetzer at LifeWay seems to indicate that Calvinistic churches say they are conducting personal evangelism at a slightly higher rate than their non-Calvinistic peers.[12] It is admirable that Towns, Estep and Page are concerned about evangelism. For the most part they desire to fight against extreme views of Calvinism. Elmer Towns is anti-extreme “anything.”



[1]Douglas Weaver and Nathan Finn. “Youth for Calvin: Reformed Theology and Baptist Collegians.” Baptist History and Heritage, Spring 2004.Accessed on July 10, 2009, pg. 40.

[2] Ken Walker, "TULIP Blooming," pg. 19.

[3] Collin Hansen. "Young, restless, reformed,” pg. 37.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Keith Hinson. "Calvinism resurging among SBC's young elites," pg. 86.

[7] Collin Hansen. "Young, restless, reformed : Calvinism is making a comeback--and shaking up the church." Christianity Today Sep 2006. (September 01, 2006). Christian Periodical Index, EBSCOhost (accessed August 1, 2009), pg. 38.

[8] Ken Walker, "TULIP Blooming." Christianity Today 52, no. 2. (February 2008): 19-19. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost(accessed August 2, 2009), pg. 19.

[9] Keith Hinson. "Calvinism resurging among SBC's young elites," pg. 87.

[10] Elmer Towns, “WHAT SHOULD SOUTHERN BAPTIST DO WITH CALVINIST?,” pg. 3.

[11] Statistic provided by Prof. David Wheeler, presented in His Evangelism 565 class.

[12] Elmer Towns, “WHAT SHOULD SOUTHERN BAPTIST DO WITH CALVINIST?,” pg.12.

8/30/2009

Baptists, Calvinists, Doctrine of Election (5)

History between Calvinists and Baptists

Interestingly enough, the first split among the Baptist denomination was over the issue of unconditional election and limited atonement. In 1620, Particular Baptists split off from the General Baptists.[1] Another interesting “first” is that the first group of Baptists in America in the year of 1639, was Particular, immersion Baptists.[2] Particular Baptists, later to be thought of as “reformed” Baptists, have been around for quite some time. Many of great Baptist pastors in the past considered themselves to be Calvinist. Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Fuller and William Carey, to name a few of the more popular/famous names.[3]

An interesting note is that Particular Baptists described election primarily as a corporate reality. The Baptist Catechism (1683/84) was patterned closely after The Westminster Shorter Catechism. Notice the wording of the Westminster on election, "God having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life." Now read the wording in The Baptist Catechism, "God having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected a people to everlasting life.[4]" God is free. God's people are free under God, but not free from the means God has chosen to save them.

In 1742, the Philadelphia Association formally adopted the revised Second London Confession of Particular Baptists of 1689.[5] This confession zealously promoted the five-points of Calvinism among Baptist churches in America while advocating baptism by immersion only.

In May 1845, 327 delegates met in Augusta, Georgia, and formed the Southern Baptist Convention on the basis of congregational representation.[6] Many of the first Southern Baptists held to the five-points of Calvinism.[7] Others did not find Calvinism acceptable, and in the late eighteenth century, Benjamin Randall led in gathering Free or Freewill Baptist congregations.[8]

J. L. Dagg's “Manual of Theology” published in 1857 clearly aligns with the order and content of the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. Dagg employs all of his mental, spiritual, and theological powers in an impassioned defense of every aspect of the doctrines of grace. The doctrine of election in light of God’s grace “tends to produce precisely that trust in God, that complete surrender of ourselves to him, to which alone the promise of eternal life is made. Should we persist in our resistance to the doctrine?[9]" J.L. Dagg kept the Southern Baptist movement on track to following a Calvinist understanding of the doctrine of election.

Preaching, according to McKibbens, is what brought both Calvinist and Arminius Baptists together in the 18th Century America. General Baptist teaching was becoming dry, intellectual without any warmth. While particular Baptists teaching was verging on scary, unbiblical hyper-Calvinism. The new preaching style, “New Evangelical Calvinism,” began with Andrew Fuller who once said, “Trusting in Christ is the duty of every sinner to whom the revelation is made." In New England alone, Baptists grew from perhaps fifteen hundred baptized members in 1740 to 21,000 in one generation.[10] This style promoted evangelism. The old problem of the sovereignty of God versus the freedom of will, which had drawn a sharp line between Particular and General Baptists, was largely solved when the New Evangelical Calvinism joined hands with the American frontier.[11]



[1] Robert Handy, “The Baptist family”, pg. 590.

[2] Ibid, 591.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Philip Thompson, “Baptists and "Calvinism" : discerning the shape of the question." Baptist History and Heritage, Spring 2004. (April 01, 2004). accessed July 11, 2009, pg. 73.

[5] Ibid, 595.

[6] Ibid, 596.

[7] Keith Hinson. "Calvinism resurging among SBC's young elites." Pg. 87.

[8] Robert Handy. “the Baptist family,”pg.595.

[9] Thomas Nettles, “SOUTHERN BAPTIST IDENTITY: INFLUENCED BY CALVINISM.” Baptist History and Heritage, Oct. 1996.Accessed Aug. 1, 2009, pg 40.

[10] Thomas McKibbens, “Disseminating Biblical Doctrine Through Preaching.” Baptist History and Heritage Spring 1984. (April 1984).Accessed on July 11, 2009, pg. 3-8.

[11] Ibid.