Saturday, June 28, 2008

No Surprise: Evangelicals Deny Solus Christus

Christ alone.
Solus Christus.

That was the watchword of our Protestant forefathers almost five-hundred years ago. Twice as long as the existence of the American government.

It meant that only Christ was the Savior of the world. That Christ alone could and does save sinners. This was just a short-hand and positive way for the classical Protestants to deny that there was any other person or way to heaven: neither our works, someone else's works, philosophy, good intentions, sociology, politics, sports... "So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs,
but of God who shows mercy" (Rom. 9:16).

Now 57% of Evangelicals polled (amongst 35,000 adults) deny that proposition. But then they've been denying it for years, decades even.

For instance, reflecting on what I was taught as a teen-ager:
  1. Pagans who never hear the Gospel can live by the "light of nature" and enter heaven.
  2. Infants who die enter heaven by virtue of their supposed innocence.
  3. Jews in the OT had to obey the Ten Commandments as grounds for eternal life.
I suppose other readers could come up with more well-established "exceptions". These are exceptions that classical Protestant creeds did not accept. No one enters heaven because they are innocent; and no one can earn their way to heaven through their own creative religious ways ("light of nature") or even through God's own Ten Commandments (Gal. 2:15ff.).

With these exceptions (and the pointed lack of historical and biblical training in many churches) it is no wonder many Evangelicals accept other ways to heaven: they already did. We are just following our leaders: Billy Graham & Joel Osteen.

For that matter, why not join the mainline churches--they've denied the exclusive and singular way to heaven for a few generations. The word "Evangelical" is becoming more and more meaningless--stretched beyond recognition. Eventually, many Evangelical churches will unrecognizable from those mainline churches.

Then maybe many will wake up surprised, ready to hear the true Gospel that should have never been a surprise to begin with.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Evangelicals Biblically Illiterate

A new Pew research (MSNBC summary) polling 35,000 adults has uncovered what many cynics (like me) have suspected all along: Evangelicals are Biblically illiterate.

57% of Evangelicals believe one can be saved outside of Christianity ("their faith isn't the only way to eternal life").

57% of self-proclaimed Evangelicals deny that Christ alone saves sinners.

57% of "I'm-a-conservative-Christian-not-Roman-Catholic-or-a-cult-member" adults have never read, heard or simply ignored Galatians 1:9:

"...if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed."

This is incredible. It is also quite predictable. At least from a classical Protestant point of view. On the other hand, this number is higher than amongst the cults such as Mormons and JWs.

How shameful. Cults have more confidence in their way of salvation than Evangelicals.

I suppose those 57% will join the Mormons or JWs some day--or at least their children. Why not? There are other ways to heaven after all.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Living With 4$ Gas

Fred now has to decide between gas and groceries.
Jane is caught between driving to work and paying for medical bills.

Welcome to a new style of living.

Americans are feeling the pinch with 4$ a gallon at the pump. And the pundits are pulling out the stops, blaming, analyzing and using any and every reason for this economical crisis. The above illustrations come straight from conservative talk-show hosts.

Liberals blame the greedy, filthy oil companies (and by extension the greedy, filthy Conservatives). Conservatives blame bad government policy (and by extension bad Liberals). This means that laws must be passed to stick it to the oil companies or the bad policy makers.

But what if these policies do too little too late? What if the cause is complex and has one key component: human consumption.

How then should we live?

Scenario 1:

Fred could continue to live an in-to-our-neck debt lifestyle, with a new SUV, a new house, a new tv, cell-phone, cable, newspaper, weekly get the idea. And he will whine about having to buy less food, going further into debt, and having less savings. Of course, since gas is so expensive, priority driving is a must: yes for little league; no for Sunday worship. A priority of savings comes to the fore as well: yes for the new tv in two years (instead of one); no for next week's tithe.


Scenario 2:

Jane could sell the new car and buy a cheaper model, live in a rental, use an old tv (or chuck it), live with a technologically challenged land-line phone, stop paying for cable, dsl, newspapers...and that weekly latte (you get the idea). And she will whine a little less about having to buy less. She'll have more money for the more important things in life. She might even be able to attend little league and Sunday worship (but will choose the latter over the former in a pinch). In a good church situation, she could even get monetary aid.

The old American values of thrift, savings and hard-work are withering away with the very Gospel that birthed them. Will we return to living life God's way or the way of satisfying the flesh?

This gas problem will not go away. And it will be used of God to test His people's sanctification: will we live God's lifestyle or mammon's?


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Problem with the Republicans

I don't normally critique politics--not because I can't but because I find too much politicking amongst Christians (too much stress and worry to be precise) and too little concern over genuine Reformation.

But once in a while some good critique comes along. Like the latest Imprimis. A secondary article by Dick Armey (Whatever Happened to the Contract with America) hits dead-on the current Republican problem:

"One day I found myself in a House leadership meeting, and I realized that we were coming to town each week and doing things we weren’t supposed to be doing. We justified this by telling ourselves that we needed to hold on to the majority in order to do the things we should be doing (emphasis mine).

In the end, the Republican Congress—in the two or three years leading up to the Democratic victories in 2006—had utterly forsaken its commitment to liberty and limited government, with the often active acquiescence of the White House. This brings me to another one of Armey’s Axioms: “If it’s only about power, you lose.”

The Republican majority, having forgotten the lessons of 1994 and having committed themselves only to the next election, not only failed their country but lost their power."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Teasers from "The Devil's Delusion"

Recently, I had the privilege of hosting Professor Alan Strange (Mid-America Seminary) at my home. While relaxing in the evening, I noticed he was reading a black-covered book with red horns on the front.

"Interesting book for a minister to read..." I amusingly thought to myself.

But after Alan read a few lines from the book, I was hooked.

The Devil's Delusion is a tour de force skewering "atheism and its scientific pretensions" (as the subtitle states). Written by David Berklinski--a mathematician, philosopher and a self-described secular Jew--the book expresses a well-trained mind, ready for intellectual battle and some fun too.

"Fun?" you naturally ask. Yes, just read on:

Sly barbs:

"It is wrong, the nineteenth-century British mathematician W. K. Clifford affirmed, 'always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.' I am guessing that Clifford believed what he wrote, but what evidence he had for his belief, he did not say." (47)

Incisive & funny:

"[a theory trying to reconcile the wave-particle mystery of light] has not, however, explained the connection between the quantum realm and the classical realm. 'So long as the wave packet reduction is an essential component [of quantum mechanics],' the physicist John Bell observed, 'and so long as we do not know when and how it takes over from the Schrodinger equation, we do not have an exact and unambiguous formulation of our most fundamental physical theory.'

If this is so, why is our most fundamental physical theory fundamental?

I'm just asking." (94)

He's not all fun and games, however:

"Neither the Nazis nor the Communists, he [Dawkins] affirms, acted because of their atheism. They were simply keen to kill a great many people...

[In Eastern Europe during WWII] an elderly and bearded Hasidic Jew laboriously dug what he knew to be his grave.

Standing up straight, he addressed his executioner. "God is watching what you are doing," he said.

And then he was shot dead.

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe...and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing.

And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either.

That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society." (26)


After reading the book, I thought, "let the unbelievers duke it out for a while."
The local atheist club is probably tired of me by now.
I'll just buy a few of these books for them.
And let them chew on it awhile.