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Spurgeon Speaks to Postmodernism
from the Grave

June 13th 2006 – Titled & Compiled by Dr. James White“We have to deal with a spirit, I know not how to denominate it, unless I call it a spirit of moderatism in the pulpits of protestant churches. Men have begun to rub off the rough edges of truth, to give up the doctrines of Luther and Zwingle, and Calvin, and to endeavour to accommodate them to polished tastes. You might go into a Roman Catholic chapel now-a-days, and hear as good a sermon from a Popish priest as you hear in many cases from a Protestant minister, because he does not touch disputed points, or bring out the angular parts of our Protestant religion. Mark, too, in the great majority of our books what a dislike there is to sound doctrine! the writers seem to fancy that truth is of no more value than error; that as for the doctrines we preach, it cannot matter what they are; still holding that…‘He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.'” 
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The Defense of the Gospel
…giving the reason for the hope that is in you

George Whitefield (1714-1770); After receiving ordination in the Church of England in 1736, he began preaching on the necessity of the New Birth. Severe opposition to the gospel followed swiftly.

June 6th 2006 – “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Here we have the concise encouragement from the pen of the Apostle Peter to every believer’s duty to “give a reason for the hope that is in you.” When Christ is honored as holy (1 Peter 1:13-19) in speech, deed and life, then the testimony follows the truth: “make a defense to anyone who asks…” Whether we are on Larry King Live or with our friends, family, neighbors or co-workers, we should always be ready with the Lord’s Word to give the divine reason for our eternal hope.
read the rest of The Defense of the Gospel

Holding Pastors Accountable…
Being faithful Bereans in your church

“Is the Congregation to Hold Their Leadership Accountable?”
Polity is a term that theologians use to define how a local church’s government is structured, functions, and characterizes its leader/laity relationship. Churches can take on many forms of polity. There are three that are the most common among churches: 1. some churches are pastoral lead by one man only you could say this would resemble a dictatorship or what I call a “Protestant Papacy”; 2. others are strictly lead through congregational-rule or voting on all church matters very much akin to a democracy; and 3. those who govern by what has become known as elder-rule this is a plurality of godly leaders that the church affirms to lead them. It is the last of these that I believe is the most biblical, balanced and honoring to the Lord.
read the rest of HOLDING PASTORS ACCOUNTABLE.
CampOnThis
Click on, post, share your thoughts; engage, edify,exhort, equip and educate others from a biblical world-view. IOW, join a biblical conversation of faith. I hope to see you in the blogosphere–Campi (Acts 20:24).
EMERGENTCY
a brief look at one of EC’s former/current leaders – Mark Driscoll

May 29th 2006 – (This is my response to the controversial comment thread at Challies.com on this issue.)In the past six days I have read. Confessions of Reformission Rev. – twice; listened to about twenty-five messages (via Mp3 downloads); watched several Vodcasts; and have read multiple articles on the Resurgence.com blog; all to continue to familiarize myself a bit more with a rising voice within evangelicalism and the emerging church movement named, Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA.

As many of you know, Mark’s latest book mentioned above recently drew a firestorm of comments when Tim Challies in writing a review of his tome, quoted some very shocking and odious passages involving language and detailed counseling scenarios that are not appropriate for a pastor of a church to use or to be casually tossed about by other believers. Mark is young, but not that young to know the difference how those words can affect ministry with others. Maybe to a niche audience in Seattle they play well; but to the broader landscape in the real world, they only communicate immaturity.

In light of that, several of you have emailed me and have asked, Steve, why haven’t you posted on this yet… We thought we would hear from you on such a hot topic, etc. There is one simple reason: I wanted to do my homework; meditate on what I had read and learned; try to reach Mark if at all possible to clarify some things the book didn’t; and then post appropriately. Surprisingly, there were also things in the book I found myself to be in complete agreement. I didn’t want to simply react out of a sense of outrage, shock, disappointment, etc., but to proactively respond to our brother and this book in a way that would benefit all reading this blog.

For the record, for what I know about Mark I like him and I do appreciate much of what he is trying to do for the Lord (it’s not all problematic). Apart from his casualness with superlatives and disgusting juvenile illustrations when trying to relate while preaching or writing, he does offer some helpful cultural analysis and is asking status quo churchianity to reexamine itself in light of societal shifts and biblical imperatives. That is healthy, needed, painful and necessary. (I have tried to reach him by email and phone this past week to discuss some of these things, to get to know him a bit, and to ask him questions about some of his outside the box views, but have not heard back from him yet.)

Here is what I have come to know about Mark and his ministry based upon a limited acquainting of myself with him through his books, blog, website, MP3’s, and interviews:
Read the rest of “EMERGENTCY…”

The Sum and Substance
of All Theology

May 26th 2006 – “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”-John 6:37.What a difference there is between the words of Christ, and those of all mere men! Most men speak many words, yet say but little; Christ speaks few words, yet says very much. In modern books, you may read scores of pages, and scarcely come across a new thought; but when Christ speaks, every syllable seems to tell. He hits the nail on the head each time He lifts the hammer of His Word. The Words of Christ are like ingots of solid gold; we preachers too often beat out the gold so thin, that whole acres of it would scarcely be worth a farthing. The Words of Christ are always to be distinguished from those of His creatures, not only for their absolute truthfulness, but also for their profound fulness of matter. In all His language He is “full of grace and truth.” Look at the text before us. Here we have, in two small sentences, the sum and substance of all theology. The great questions which have divided the Church in all ages, the apparently contradictory doctrines which have set one minister of Christ against his fellow, are here revealed so simply and plainly, “that he may run that readeth” (Habakkuk ii.2). Even a child may understand the Words of Christ, though perhaps the loftiest human intellect cannot fathom the mystery hidden therein.
Read the rest of “The Sum and Substance of All Theology”
The New Gospel:
Appealing but Not Revealing

May 24th 2006 – By Jim ElliffIt cannot be overstated that the most pressing issue in the American church at present is the prevalence of unregenerate church members within our ranks. When the current surveys of American life place those who call themselves believers in Christ about the seventieth percentile and climbing, conservative Christians ought to finally awaken to the immensity of the problem. Deception is pandemic. It is as if a modern Constantine christianized the masses while we were asleep.

Spurgeon said, Everyone has a religious spasm or two. More spasms have been taken to be true conversion in our day than perhaps in any other day of our existence as a nation, notably within evangelicalism. We have never looked fatter. But our corpulent appearance is like cotton candy: when you melt it down, there is not much to it. Now we find ourselves struggling over the meaning of conversion. But we have not done our homework early enough and the problem is already out of hand. In message and method we have, in fact, often erred. The sowing of bad seed has produced massive crop failure yet unprecedented statistics. It is getting harder to find wheat among the tares.

It is the complicity of the evangelical church in this deception, either through misinformed enthusiasm or love for repute, that is the most disturbing. We have poured over materials on methodology for bringing people in and used our theology books for doorstops. We have entertained more cleverly than ever before and made the outside world feel good again about the idea of church. We have been quiet enough about sin to make it worth their while to show up repeatedly and perhaps even to join. We have taught them how to act Christian without conviction, to praise God without loving holiness, and, as one has said, to say Amen without saying Oh me! Is it any wonder that when our converts leave the services, they take the pastor’s hand and say, “It surely is fun to be in this place rather than ‘Surely God is in this place'”?
Read the rest of “The New Gospel…”

The Need for Discernment
in These Perilous Time – Pt 2

May 22nd 2006 – by Pastor Lars Larson PhDThe Present State of Evangelicalism
As was pointed out above, there is increasing alarm among a number of evangelical leaders about the current state of evangelicalism and the direction in which the movement is proceeding. In this section we wish to consider some of the forces which make the matter of discernment a pre-eminent concern.

We have been influenced by Society
Dockery, the first writer cited above, described postmodernism as it has emerged in secular society in order to awaken Christians of the difficult task which faces them to take the gospel to this kind of world. But he fails to point out that Christians themselves, being in the world, have bought into these ideas. In fact, evangelicalism has embraced this philosophy wholesale. There is a disinterest by most Christians, even an aversion by many, to think through matters of doctrine (teaching). Perhaps they make a little effort, struggle a bit, and then throw up their hands and respond, it is irrelevant anyway, what is important is the heart. Recently I received a letter from a lady and her husband with whom I had a discussion about the doctrines of grace when we were visiting in California. After I sent them some basic outline material and recommended some books which discussed the issues, here was her response: Have attempted to wade through the material you sent, but it is all to confusing to my pea brain. We both just accept the gospel plain and simple, and will leave the intellectual stuff to you, Lars. The problem is that the very things we were discussing concerned the nature and the content of the gospel. This husband and wife are dear friends, and they have been Christians faithfully serving for many years. But for many of those years they served in a church which had forsaken the gospel. Thankfully, they came out, but then they became a part of another church where they stayed for two years and suffered there because of the teaching. Again, they came out. They have since found a church where they are comfortable. But during this whole process they struggled with much difficulty to identify what was wrong with the churches to which they belonged. Had they done the work years ago struggling with the issues, which the Scriptures affirm we should do, they would have seen the issues much more clearly, and much sooner, moreover, they may have been able to assist others who were struggling along with them. The approach is typical of these days. You must not relegate your thinking to others. Why? Because very possibly they themselves are not thinking and they may be in error. You must learn to discern.
Read the rest of “The Need for Discernment…”

The Da Vinci Code Movie
my review
May 19th 2006 – My brief but accurate review of the book and the movie: “40,000,000 people can be wrong.”

(For other reviews: check out at RottenTomoatoes.com; and The USAToday). You’ll discover that the vast majority of the secular press is panning this film as well.

I was given a free ticket to an advanced showing of TDVC which I saw last evening. It was very long, dark (in the Batman tradition), tedious to sit through, and not as entertaining as one would think. Apart from the biblical concerns this movie generates, as a film, I’d give it two out of five stars.

Content wise, it stays pretty true to the book. It comes as no surprise that it is pure unadulterated fiction not to be taken seriously. Its historic assertions on the most basic of issues (Constantine, The Nicene Creed, scriptural accounts, etc.) are so distorted that to give any meaningful analysis of it would be inadvertently to elevate its status to a credible work worthy of such careful examination which this work does not deserve (even the audience wasn’t completely buying it which I gathered from their very meager reaction at the films conclusion).

Matt Lauer this past week on The Today Show was in France doing a series on TDVC; and even he, with just a tertiary analysis, discovered many historical flaws and inconsistencies as to not give it any real merit.

In short, TDVC is Gnostic in its foundation and claims, and as a movie is not terribly compelling.

We all know Tom Hanks to be a brilliant actor and Ron Howard a very gifted director, but this usual winning team, in this film, falls flatter than J-Lo in Gigli. Hanks gives a fairly wooden performance and feels out of place throughout. It’s easier believing that Darryl Hannah is a Mermaid in “Splash”, that there is a place called “Oz” over the rainbow, or that Indiana Jones really did find the ark of God than believing the claims made in TDVC. The experience of watching this movie is kind of like listening to the Caner brothers: it is wearisome, nonsensical, arduous, historically twisted and in the end is unproductive.

There have been many Christian authors who have written extensively and thoroughly on “unmasking TDVC” that I don’t need to repeat those same arguments here (my friend, Dr. James White, does an excellent and thorough job here; and Dr. Al Mohler gives a very solid biblical response here).

But how are we as Christians to respond in the aftermath of this film?

Four things:

1. Dan Brown is not to be taken seriously on any level regarding the Christian faith (Col. 2:8-10). Don’t give him the fuel or the platform for his historic revisionism, mystic dribble, sacred feminine agenda, and theological fiction.

2. Satan has always attacked the authority of God’s Word; the character of God; and the gospel, person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is nothing new and as old as the garden of Eden. But, how do we confront such attacks? With the truth of God’s Word (read 2 Cor. 10:1-6).

3. Every believer needs to be able to give a reason for the hope that is within him or her with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15-16). Know the Lord and His truth deeply; you don’t have to be an expert on TDVC to address it with your friends, family or co-workers at your place of employ. Know Christ; be an authority on the once for all delievered to the saints faith (Jude 3); when asked, give a clear witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. Pray that the Lord will grant you an opportunity, because of the talk generated by this film, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to your neighbors, friends and family. Take advantage of this media/cultural happening to witness the truth about the Lord to others. And may I encourage you to pray for Dan Brown and all associated with this film, that their hearts would be made receptive soil to “hear” the Word of Christ–the genuine gospel (Romans 10:14-17); that they would be given godly sorrow to repent of their sins (2 Cor. 7:8-12); be granted saving faith by God’s sovereign grace to come to salvation; and to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Eph. 2:8-9; Romans 10:9-10).

Now, if its fiction you want that is entertaining, may I suggest Mission Impossible III?

Guard the Trust,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

The Need for Discernment in These Perilous Time – Pt 1
May 18th 2006 – This past two weeks of ministry has taken me to some wonderful and interesting places.

I was privileged just three days ago to play golf in the Marine Toys for Tots Golf Classic at the beautiful Mount Vernon Country Club in Washington, D.C. The Lord blessed us with great weather, great fellowship, and some fine golf as well.What a joy to be have been a part of this great outing for the third year in a row. Lt. General Cooper (retired) announced at the beginning of this year’s tournament that last year’s Golf Classic raised $160,000.00 and they were on track to do just as well if not more this year. In addition, Toys for Tots is also one of the top fifty philanthropic charities in the world with 2005 donations of $150,000,000.00. Toys for Tots is a tremendous charity which does valuable work for children all around the world.

Then two weekends ago, I had the privilege of ministering outside the Boston area in Leominster, MA at the First Baptist Church. The senior pastor, Lars Lawson, was a gracious host and come to find a very gifted theologian and pastor/teacher as well. He is a dedicated under-shepherd of Christ and we enjoyed some rich and rewarding conversations. To be in the “neighborhood” where men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and D.L. Moody once ministered was very inspiring. Though time didn’t permit us to visit some of the historical sites attributed to these men, it was a joy to encourage all who came out of God’s Word and worship in song.

On Friday evening and Saturday morning I was part of a conference where they had assigned me four topics to teach: Reforming music; Reforming worship; Reforming evangelism; and Reforming fellowship. This wonderful church holds dearly to the 1689 London Baptist Confession and have stood firm among much opposition to the truth claims of Scripture. It was an honor to partner with them in ministry.

I had asked Lars if he had done much writing and for permission to post some of his articles from time to time on the blog and website. He graciously agreed and sent this article to me as what I hope will only be the first of many contributions from him here at COT. His first installment at COT is on the issue of discernment.There is almost a “famine in the land” when it comes to finding books that have been written about this subject of discernment; but yet it remains, IMHO, one of the great and pressing needs in the body of Christ today.

Here is part one of his excellent and much needed article on the issue of discernment. May your hearts be encouraged by his powerful insights and words.

Grace and peace to you,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7
Read the rest of “The Need for Discernment…”