January 27, 2006
Truth to tell, exposing sin is easier than applying grace; for, alas, we are more intimate with the former than we sometimes are with the latter. Therein lies our weakness.
I think this explains why so many Christians do what they do. Why we leave our wounded on the battlefield. Why we'd rather find reasons to separate from each other than find ways to work together. We'd rather expose sin.
Sometimes I think it's simply because we like to know that other Christians are sinning -- even doing things worse than what we do ourselves. We'd rather expose the preacher down the street for his financial problems than deal with the fact that we cheat on our taxes. We'd rather hear about how the televangelist was caught in sexual sin than deal with our own addiction to pornography. It makes us feel better if someone else is doing it, too.
We also do it because we get hurt when people are exposed. We're angry when our favorite preacher is exposed as a mere human, dealing with temptations daily. We feel let down, we're hurt, and we want them to pay. So we pile on. And we hunt others that have the same problem. We don't want to extend grace.
And we do it because we've been attacked ourselves. I see this in many of the comments on the IMB/Wade Burleson controversy: former Southern Baptists who are feeling vindicated now that the dogs have been loosed once again. Many of them are trying to keep their "Told ya'"s quiet, but it's clear from reading that the sentiment is there.
It's a self-perpetuating thing. We don't show grace, we aren't shown grace. We aren't shown grace, we don't show any. Somewhere, the cycle has to stop -- but we aren't willing to stop it.
January 19, 2006
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. -small";>From the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message
The autonomy of the local church is one of the distinctions that separate Baptists from most other Protestants. There is no centralized authority that has any jurisdiction over a local church -- the churches decide individually what doctrines they adhere to, what they teach and preach, what materials they use, etc.
Even within the Southern Baptist Convention, each local church is autonomous. The national Convention does not tell us what to do -- in fact, the purpose of the convention each year is for the local churches to establish the direction of the Convention as a whole.
But is it Biblical? Briefly, let me offer some Biblical support for the idea of local church autonomy. more...
January 11, 2006
Now there's a validator for your Christology. Are You Chalcedonian Compliant?
(And just so you know, I am. 100%.)
January 09, 2006
I have a folder in my RSS reader marked "Potential Topics." As I read through articles in my RSS feeds, I copy items of interest and note to that folder, on the assumption I will one day write something about the topic of that post. Unfortunately, what usually happens is that I totally forget about what I've put there until I decide it's time to clean it out. By that time, I've forgotten whatever pearls of wisdom I had to contribute to the discussion.
This is a topic, though, that really has no "window of opportunity." The Bible as our ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. The 1689 London Baptist Confession puts it this way, right at the very beginning: "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience ..."
Biblical authority is important to practical Christianity. If this book we read called the Bible has no authority over our lives, if it isn't the rule we follow, then why read it? It's not a simple book to read and understand (some Bible translators' opinions to the contrary). There are plenty of self-help books out there that claim to work, and many people lead what seem to be pretty happy lives following the precepts of Tony Robbins and folks like him. The Bible makes demands on people, it gives us rules to follow, it cramps our style. If it's just another book, then why bother?
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