Monday, February 8, 2016


Today we have in Christianity a major emphasis on importing the sights and sounds of the culture around us into the church and integrating it into Christ's society so as to affirm the people in whose midst the church exists thereby, somehow, attracting them to Christianity. Part of this collective, in my view, is The Gospel Coalition who go as far as suggesting there is something racist or bigoted about not emphasizing, affirming and importing human culture into the church, as I have read them, repeatedly.

Let me suggest to you the view of Justin Martyr, an early church leader and prolific writer of whom we have many of his works. This is not to propose that Martyr wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as did the writers of Scripture but in reading his works, there is yet to be a Christian man or woman walking away from such an endeavor and not confess this was a man of great wisdom and doctrinal thinking.

In his “Discourse to the Greeks” Martyr stated:

Do not suppose, ye Greeks, that my separation from your customs is unreasonable and unthinking; for I found in them nothing that is holy or acceptable to God.
As well: 
And your public assemblies I have come to hate. For there are excessive banquetings, and subtle flutes which provoke to lustful movements, and useless and luxurious anointing, and crowning with garlands.
I encourage you to read the entirety of the translated document found here along with other early works of church leaders. 

Imagine Martyr Saying This Today

Of course my point is clear and Justin Martyr, I believe, serves us all well as an antidote to those who love their human identity with its culture more than that of Christ and his culture which stems from his Word and Spirit.

So imagine what Martyr would face from the likes of The Gospel Coalition, Russell Moore and beyond, in making these statements about a people, today, at least as I envision. He would be castigated and thrown out of any circle of self-proclaiming gospel loving, Christ honoring group. He would become the enemy, the bad man while this collective wags its righteous finger and rebukes Martyr for his intolerance, bigotry, racism and ungodly social phobias.

The truth is, sometimes whole cultures offer little, if nothing, that honors God. This is politically incorrect but then Justin Martyr wasn’t pledged to Cosmic Diabolicus, he was pledged to Christ and his views showed this.

Music Which Provokes Lustful Movements

Some, maybe many, Christians have argued that music is morally neutral and these arguments are based on the fallacious idea that morality only has to do with the volitional agent and all tools are simply based in context and in and of themselves, are nothing. Apparently someone forgot to inform the rather wise and holy Justin Martyr.

Like a fool, he recognized music which provokes sinful desires but even more precisely, "lustful movements" or gyrations. Whether he was attaching a label of immorality or not, he knew it was sinful, sensual and inappropriate. But of course we know better, now don’t we, and nothing is off limits for the church. 

God forgive us in our ignorance, arrogance and defiance of wisdom.


Anonymous said...

I would assume in 'hating their public assemblies' your modern-day Justin Martyr would have the conference season in mind. The expense, the receiving honour from one another of the pastor celebrities, the books, CD's and DVD's and social media coverage, the encouraging of group-think. That might have been Strange Ire to Martyr!

Now I have nothing against conferences as such, but they do seem to me to follow the secular commercial model of setting out the latest innovations and marketing techniques, with men boasting of their achievements and success and keynote speeches; and even Christian conferences preach to the choir (as it were) in allowing only one viewpoint to be expressed. Confirmation bias. Are they Reformed? Fine, but not if a godly Arminian is automatically excluded, even if he has something very useful to say at the conference.


Alex A. Guggenheim said...

I have to admit that I did not have in mind the Neo-Calvinist/Neo-Reformed, or any other, Christian Conference paradigm but your application of the principle stated by Martyr, is devastating.

Thank you.