Archive | Christianity

Ten Thoughts about the “Billy Graham Rule”

Earlier today, I saw an interview on CNN about a Christian politician who practices the “Billy Graham Rule” (watch above). It is an awkward interview to watch, but it illustrates the cost to men and women who are making a good-faith effort to avoid compromising situations. This is by no means everything that can or should be said about the so-called “Billy Graham Rule.” Nevertheless, I thought I would update something I wrote previously on this topic. I personally believe that the rule is wise and ought to be pursued with rigor by Christians who are serious about holiness and witness. So in that spirit, here are ten brief reflections on this particular discipline: Continue Reading →

Spurgeon on the “Business” of Prayer

“Some brethren get up in our prayer meetings, and say some very good things; but what they really ask for, I am sure I do not know. I have heard prayers of which I have said, when they were over, ‘Well, if God answers that prayer, I have not the least idea of what he will give us.’ It was a very beautiful prayer, and there was a great deal of explanation of doctrine and experience in it; but I do not think that God needs to have doctrine or experience explained to him. The fault about the prayer was, that there was not anything asked for in it. I like, when brethren are praying, that they should be as business-like as a good carpenter at his work. It is of no use to have a hammer with an ivory handle, unless you aim it at the nail you intend to drive in up to the head; and if that is your object, an ordinary hammer will do just as well as a fine one, perhaps better…

“When I pray, I like to go to God just as I go to a banker when I have a cheque to be cashed. I walk in, put the cheque down on the counter, the clerk gives me my money, I take it up, and go about my business. I do not know that I ever stopped in a bank five minutes to talk with the clerks; when I have received my change, I go away and attend to other matters. That is how I like to pray; but there is a way of praying that seems like lounging near the mercy-seat, as though one had no particular reason for being found there. Let it not be so with you, brethren. Plead the promise, believe it, receive the blessing God is ready to give, and go about your business.”

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Two Guards, Praying and Watching” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 38 (London: Passmore & Alabaster), 206-207.

Amazon bans books on “conversion therapy”

I am a Christian. I hold to what Christians have always believed about sexuality—that the only legitimate context for sexual activity is between one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. Any other kind of sexual activity—including the homosexual kind—is against God’s design for His creation and is prohibited by scripture. I also believe that we are all sexual sinners of some sort. 

Nevetheless, I affirm that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. I deny that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

This is all standard fare Christian doctrine. It is the unbroken testimony of the Christian church for its entire 2,000-year history. And I think—if I understand this news story correctly—it is a perspective that Amazon has banned (or is about to ban) from the books that it sells on its site. Let me explain. Continue Reading →

How a Christian Patriot Might Love His Wayward Country

I love G. K. Chesterton’s reflections on what it means to be a Christian patriot. If you have never read it, I encourage you to read “The Flag of the World” in his classic work Orthodoxy. Chesterton contends that love of one’s homeland is not like house-hunting—an experience in which you weigh the pros and cons of a place and choose accordingly. He writes:

A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration.

We do not choose our homeland. It is something that we are born into. Thus our acceptance of our home is not like a house that we can leave when we tire of it. It is like the love we have for our family: Continue Reading →

The PCA General Assembly Affirms the Nashville Statement

Last night I stayed up until after 1am watching the annual General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The debate went into the wee hours of the night because the assembly had several measures before it relating to sexuality and gender identity. The most controversial measure was Overture 4, which is titled “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration.”

Overture 4 is remarkable not only because it affirms the Nashville Statement, but also because it calls on the PCA to use the Nashville Statement in discipleship materials produced by the denomination. Here are the relevant lines from the overture: Continue Reading →

LGBT Pride Month as Religious Observance

Joe Carter has a really important article about LGBT Pride Month as a religious observance. You need to read the whole thing, but here is the heart of it:

Because the LGBT agenda of normalizing homosexuality and transgenderism conflicts with Christianity (at least in its non-apostate forms), to “eliminate prejudice” requires anathematizing the beliefs of Bible-believing Christians. In the future the celebration of LGBT views will likely be compelled. But for now, every American is simply required to choose a side.

This is why LGBT Pride Month is also, as my colleague Betsy Howard says, a form of Passover. In the original Passover, the Israelites put the blood of a lamb on the doorposts so that God would “pass over” their house and not bring judgment upon the people within (Ex, 12:7-13). Today, the American people fly a rainbow flag, wear an “ally” pin, or change their social media avatars to show they observe LGBT Pride Month. In doing so, they show they’ve bent the knee to the LGBT cause and will not incur their wrath that will be poured out those who are not “affirming.”

We should expect such submissive behavior from corporations, who have uncritically adopted “woke capitalism.” We can also expect it from government agencies, such as U.S. embassies, since they are often overseen by LGBT-affirming presidents, like Clinton, Obama, and Trump. Corporations and governments can be absolved for showing their support for anti-Christian causes. But what excuse do Christians have?

Why do so many professed believers adopt a symbol that shows the world they are opposed to God’s Word? And why do we overlook such displays of idolatry by those who claim to be both LGBT “allies” and our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Seriously, read the whole thing. The most disconcerting thing about Pride month is not that unbelievers are acting like unbelievers. That is no surprise. The most unsettling aspect of all this is how many professed Christians are accommodating themselves to this idolatry. They fly the rainbow flag in their yard or on their car or Facebook profile. It is as if they don’t understand that following Christ cannot be reconciled with celebrating sexual immorality, that there is no fellowship between light and darkness (2 Cor. 6:14).

Joe’s final question is the correct one. I hope believers who are teetering on the brink of LGBT affirmation with soberly consider it. He writes:

We do not love our neighbor when we tell they can continue to engage in unrepentant rebellion against God. We cannot continue with the “go along to get along” mentality that is leading those we claim to love to destruction. If we truly love our LGBT neighbors, we must speak the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31). We may have to accept the fact that those who have fallen away may not ever return, but we shouldn’t lead them to hell because we are too craven to tell them the gospel requires repentance.

We must choose whom we will serve. Will we love our neighbors and stand with the only wise God, or will we hate our LGBT friends by allying with the foolish idol-makers of LGBT Pride Month?

That is the question that no Christian can hide from.

Divine Discipline

Better to learn in the gentle classroom of God’s word than in the hard chambers of his discipline.

“So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is righteous.’ When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, ‘They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some measure of deliverance, and My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak. But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries. They will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.’”

2 Chronicles 12:6-8 [emphasis mine]

Complementarianism? What’s in a name?

Over the last several weeks, the evangelical interwebs have been astir with debates about women preaching and complementarianism. I have noticed in much of this discussion that there seems to be much confusion about what complementarianism is. As a result, some of us have been trying to address this confusion in hopes of shedding some light on the matter (see here, here, and here).

But that is not my purpose in this short post. Rather, what I would like to do is make a brief historical point about the origin and referent of the term complementarian. While it was common for older commentators to point out that Adam and Eve were a complement to one another1, the exact term complementarian did not appear in theological discourse until the late 1980’s. Some writers have therefore given the impression that the entrance of the term into the lexicon marked out a theological innovation—a peculiar expression of baby boomer theology that is soon to peter out when the baby boomers are no more. In this kind of analysis, the term reduces to a sociological descriptor rather than a theological one. Continue Reading →

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