Monday, May 8, 2017

RACIAL TROPHYISM AND HOW EVERYONE LOSES WHEN THE CHURCH PURSUES RACIAL DIVERSITY


I continue to read about and observe the growing monstrosity of the occupation with racial/ethnic/cultural diversity in and by Christ’s body. The further away I am theologically displaced from this gangrenous abnormality, the more evident becomes the harm and frankly, injustice to God’s people by those hijacking Christ’s property and resources for this humanist enterprise.

Thus, I am predictably prodded to compose this essay with regard to racial patronization and ultimately, trophyism within the church and conclusively, how everyone in the church loses when God’s spiritual body is impeached with accusations of racism merely because it does not meet some arbitrary racial/ethnic/cultural census thus, is torn away from its design and mission issued by Christ which is to call all people to come to the Savior that we may be one in Christ (within the church) and instead, imposing upon and compelling God’s holy nation to conform to some worldly measure of humanism rather than the Biblical mandate to be transformed together as a chosen race (γένος/genos), a royal priesthood, a holy nation (ἔθνος/ethnos) (2 Peter 2:9), through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2).

(Yes, that was one sentence.)

Everyone in the Church Loses in the Humanist Pursuit of Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Diversity

First, let be clear. When the New Testament considers the issues of diversity it does so only with respect to spiritual diversity among those who are the chosen race (γένος/genos), a royal priesthood, a holy nation (ἔθνος/ethnos). There is no such thing as the church being charged with pursuing human diversity and that is essentially because the church is a new archetype which is purely a spiritual construct. Thus, its call by God to the pursuit of the unsaved to be saved, that they may become the new (καινὴ/kainē) creature (2 Cor. 5:17) and then when they become that new creature, to teach or disciple them in the Word of God.

It is true that the Apostle Paul wrote that within the church there is diversity to be deliberated but that diversity is spiritual diversity which is expressed in our varying spiritual gifts. He wrote to the Corinthian church about this in stating that, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:4). And here, not only should the point of the Biblical context of diversity stand out but the sameness of the shared one Spirit should as well, which speaks to our shared spiritual heritage in Christ as Christians.

But for the sake of argument…

Pitying the errant teachers of racial humanism, let’s ignore the clear paradigm prescribed by our Lord and pretend that pursuing racial/ethnic/cultural diversity is the order of the day for God’s people.

You do realize, don’t you, that in doing so that someone - actually quite a number of God’s people - will lose when this equation is applied? You do understand that, right?

Two common propositions and their injury to the church.
1. We need more blacks in the church, it is too white.
This fundamental idea which is commonly proposed by people such as Jarvis Williams and Anthony Bradley and others as I have read them, is destructive simply in its formula. God’s church, Christ’s body, is not an assembly of people based on shared human race, ethnicity or culture. It is an assembly of people based on a shared spiritual identity or person. 

In fact, as I referenced earlier and do so again, repeatedly the New Testament divests God’s people of their anthropological significance as it relates to our new spiritual identity which stems from our reconciliation to God through Christ and not only brings the power to be completely reconciled to God but consequently, reconciliation with and to fellow believers.

Our ability to relate to another believer then, is not based on reconciliation to or with his or her human properties, i.e., his/her racial, ethnic or cultural identity but on our shared spiritual identity in the shared properties which come with the new birth. These are: shared spiritual DNA, shared Father, Son and Holy Spirit and shared Word from which is derived a subsequent expression of doctrinal beliefs in the form of a meticulous consanguineous theology along with a scrupulously developed and expressed ecclesiastical/spiritual culture.

Therefore, to deliberately seek out more blacks, whites, browns or what have you, to place into a church is to fail to identify and abide by the Biblical parameters decreed by our Savior in his specific schematics given in the New Testament for God’s people, the church.

A second and just as critically related point which I will address more thoroughly next, is that such a proposal automatically defaults to the anti-Biblical view that the church is an anthropologically based (and worse) human institution which has been inaugurated for the advancement of human interests. 

How utterly heinous is such a path which only leads to the dispossession (practically speaking) of God’s people of the power given to them by Christ for the spiritual operation and triumph of believers and eventually leads to the dissolution of a local assembly as an expression and endeavor of God and is, instead, grotesquely morphed into an institution for the advancement of some human racial/ethnic/cultural cause of which pursuits belong, not in the Kingdom on the right but in and to the Kingdom on the left.

Finally, I ask those proposing such things, who, my friends, will be the arbiters of enough blacks and African Americans, enough Chinese, enough Spaniards, enough Argentinians and enough Russians? Who will tell me when the quota is filled?

And while we pursue such nonsensical diabolical schedules, remember, it is all based on the assumption that we, not Christ, know who to add to his church instead of simply abiding by his edict that, as we go we are to preach the gospel and let him, the Savior, add to the church through the Word.
2. My culture is not represented. We need to bring cultural elements of the surrounding community into the church so that the people in the community can identify with what is going on and feel comfortable and cared for and not alienated.
The way I have formulated this overture appears a bit unsophisticated but cuts to the actual point or demand being made by those insisting on co-opting the church for the advancement of racial/ethnic/cultural concerns. The decisive goal is for their comfort, not God’s people thus, the church must adjust to them and not they, to God’s church.

Again, just like earlier, the presupposition of the church existing to represent one’s race, culture or ethnicity is the perpetrator of the perniciousness being hoisted upon the church. Your human culture, in whatever national, state or local context you live, exists in just that, the Kingdom on the left.

Human culture is the construct by which humans, living together, collectively express themselves as a micro or macro community. But human culture is not ecclesiastical culture. Christ’s church is a new paradigm altogether which is a spiritual culture.

But what about human elements within the church that are used for the purpose of expressing our spiritual culture, shouldn’t that be something I expect to see in a church?

Commonly, this is a query which arises in debates such as this. In other words, If I am black and if my surrounding culture is primarily black (whatever that means but for the sake of time I’ll accept the notion that there is a certain and defined thing called black culture), when I walk into a church that is primarily white, I will arguably be disoriented and feel as though it cherishes white culture and its expression (again, accepting without argument such a position in order to make my point) and no doubt I will not feel welcomed or not understood with regard to my race and culture.

Do you see the elementary flaw in the thinking which I have pointed out, twice already?

The person entering a church with the assumption it exists to affirm his racial or cultural identity begins with a mistake, an error so grave and consequently ever consuming, that he will perpetually be in search of a satisfying ecclesiastical experience since to him or her, self-affirmation and not divine affirmation is the purpose of the church and every time it fails to proclaim or affirm the goodness of his/her anthropological identity, it has failed him or her. Of course we know the objective of the church is to proclaim Christ and our identity as believers in Christ and all that we have equally and commonly received and shared as a consequence of believing the gospel and being “in Christ” (Eph. 2).

And lastly, let me say that if someone succeeds in convincing a church to conform to this order of humanism and a church decides to make a number of adjustments so that he doesn’t feel the way he does (in this case let’s assume it is a black person wanting a predominantly white church to have more “black things”), again, let’s consider who loses out. And the answer to that is everybody who isn’t that black individual loses out not to mention all of those who are already there and who would like their own, special needs, met with adjustments by the church. Will the Chinese woman get the same adjustment in the future, how about the Pakistani family or the Ainu who live across the street and are visiting?

When you enter a Church…

When you enter a church, if you are a faithful believer in Christ, you are to look for spiritual things. That is to say, you are to look for what Christ and his Apostles taught us are common to all believers and are to be the pursuit of his Church.
  • Is the church a gospel preaching church which seeks to evangelize the lost?
  • Is the church one in which the Pastor knows and teaches solid doctrine, from milk to meat?
  • Is the church one that is governmentally safe and sound?
  • Do the members emphasize their spiritual identity and properties in ecclesiastical fellowship?
  • Do the members recognize you and receive you as a fellow believer with spiritual gifting given by God with the intention of you using such gifting within that assembly?
If you discover such components in a church, it doesn’t matter what the cultural context because while cultural constituents will be present in a church, they will be anecdotally so in a healthy church. That is, they will only be relative tools from the surrounding culture which are convenient for the actual or real purpose of the church which is spiritual enterprise.

For example, some communities might not have little plastic cups to use for communion. Instead, you have to use little wooden cups that are washed and the wood is indigenous only to that area. Do you suddenly feel unable to take communion because the regulars are familiar with the little wooden cups while you are familiar with plastic cups?

Or take the materials and designs for robes, if they are worn. They may differ in varying parts of the world based on what fabric is available and the social signals which are given by various color combinations and wardrobe use with its accoutrements. Are you to now demand foreign elements for your convenience or will you learn their use and greater, Biblical significance and permit yourself to be edified through these easily learned cultural values? Possibly not, however. You could be a racial narcissist of the worst order.

Remember, while they may be foreign to you they are not foreign to those using them. For you to enter into an assembly of God and demand that such references and identifiers be removed or replaced with ones you wish to install so that your human identity feels more affirmed and comfortable, is the height of arrogance. 

Seeking to disorient others to what has been and now is already established merely for your comfort and convenience instead of you learning what these things mean and their significance and abiding by them out of respect for the instituted practices which have clear and relative meaning to the assembly in their collective worship of and obedience to God, is simply and utterly atrocious and no argument exists to convince even a redeemed weasel, otherwise.

Black Trophyism – White Saviors and their Adoption Trophies

I am confident that about now some of my readers are getting nervous but you shouldn’t. Just like the sacrosanct number of 6 million Jews allegedly being gassed by the Nazis (don’t get all mad, any dork can do a minute of research only to discover that the 4 million Jews who were claimed to have been executed at Birkenau upon which the 6 million total rested, was changed to 1.4 million in 1990 and a plaque giving this new estimate was placed there in 1995 without the 6 million total ever being revised), the adoption of black children by notable white Evangelicals Bible teachers and Pastors along with their acolytes who seek to emulate their heroes, thus also bring home at least one Ebony laurel, is something we must not address and if so, we must not mention the obvious.

While I will not contend for a moment I know the heart and mind of anyone individual, I do know, statistically speaking, from decades of research on the matter and from anecdotal observation (the weakest element here but one, nonetheless), that among these racial redeemers, a good number of them are highly impressed with themselves and ultimately duped by their self-aggrandizing racial valor into the delusion that they have earned their racial street cred card along with a get-out-of-racist-jail- free card. Secretly, they hope for the day they can say to their black friend, “What’s up my nig?” and have reciprocated to them, “Nothin’ my nig.”, with it all being good, along with any number of other racial exceptions to the rule.

Of course, this is how you end up with imbecilic stuff like this from men who, with their advanced degrees (some of them, at least) demonstrate the wisdom of a ten-year old.

Remember Rachel Dolezal? I’ll say this for her, she has more credibility with regard to racial reconciliation and/or whatever racial bridge building is being attempted by her than any of these Evangelical paragons of racial nirvana.


I won’t go so far as to say this about these men but they remind me of men, just like them, who love black trophies, tokens and symbols but aren’t actually interested in going black. You do realize that, right? 

Their interest is in converting their black trophy into a reflection of themselves but with all the benefits of having invested one’s self into black concerns.

Now, in all fairness but more importantly, as a matter of Biblical principle, these EEO Caucazoid Church Commanders shouldn’t be interested in going black, as Rachel Dolezal desires. However, nor should they be interested in going white, or brown or yellow or whatever color one offers as a representative of a race or ethnicity.

Why?

Because that isn’t the purpose of Christ’s church. He didn’t establish her to rectify racial, ethnic or cultural problems, injustices or inequities, real or perceived. She, the church, is a new paradigm and her crown is that of spiritual royalty. Her children are all birthed the same, through the gospel and raised the same, through a Spirit-filled life which abides in and is fed by, the Word!

But that isn’t why these cowards don’t go black like Rachel Dolezal, whose actions at least match her rhetoric. They don’t go black for two reasons:

Theological Ineptitude (Possible Cowardice) Mixed with Imposed White Guilt – these men are so theologically incompetent with regard to the issue of race, cultural and ethnicity and as it relates to Christ’s church that instead of rebuking these merchants of macabre racial theology, they attempt to yield to it from a position fear stemming from possessing no significant theological rebuttal along with false white guilt. Adding to this is the threat of being labeled a racist by these pirates and presto, ignorance and fear wins the day while God’s church is ravaged by error.

White Preference – there is a reason almost all of these kinds of men will never be found living with their families (apart from it being providentially or financially forced) in any predominantly black neighborhood or eating at restaurants that are predominantly black or engaging in any real personal black social construct most of the time and so on and so on, as it relates to the black universe.

Why?

The reasons why is because they generally prefer all things fair and light. Shocker, I know. Imagine that, people preferring what looks, sounds and behaves similar to themselves. Indeed, they pretend to admire rappers and black culture and black theologians but let’s be honest, they aren’t moving to their neck of the woods nor are they going to start importing them into theirs anytime soon.

The problem, of course, is that while I am honest enough to tell you I prefer most things Caucasian/Anglo/white, they won’t. Thus, to them it is a shocker when people say such things. They are liars, to themselves and to us.

Which brings me to my final area of concern.

Churches, Seminaries Black Tokens and Trophies

As I just said, these Masters of ecclesiastical enterprise both don’t have a Biblical response to the iniquitous agents of racialized theology nor do they really like black things all that much, other than at a distance. But because they are not honest with themselves in admitting any of this, all that is left for them to do is try and fabricate the appearance of their full acquiescence to the racialized theological nonsense while trying to dip their toe in the river as if to convince the men on the other side, they are seriously on the way over.

Enter…the tokens and trophies. (For the uninitiated, a black token is the minimum required, usually kept at some distance, of blacks to silence accusations of outright racial prejudice/racism and given while a black trophy is when you told the token real close on certain occasions and agree to handle it in public so as to give more than the minimal impression of racial enlightenment but to show to all doubters how grand your racial advancement is, so much so you want the world to know by hugging your black trophy. Of course, all of this is said with the acceptance of the lie that one is a default racist in the absence of black or brown people in your institution but I am accepting that error for the moment for my larger point.)

Possibly and to their credit, their poor but still existing theological instincts tell them that this racialized theological Trojan Horse scheme is in error thus, they give what they believe is minimally required adherence. 

On the other hand it could be because they don’t like the idea of being fully immersed in the ink well and taken over by a bunch of blacks running their churches and seminaries which is why they prefer black tokens and trophies. I don’t know but what I do know is that the trophyism practiced by these Gospel Coalition type churches, which receives all kinds of kudos, belies their claims of any genuine conversion to the racialized program being insisted upon by groups like the Reformed Blacks of America or the Reformed African American Network.

What I believe is really being hoped for is a satisfaction with tokens and trophies by these leftist Afrocentric theology groups and their leaders. Of course, if you are a student of history you know that this will never be enough and frankly, shouldn’t be if one has been foolish enough to concede their heretical points of racialize theology as valid. If you tell these radicalized racialists they are right, then how dare you forbid them on their next point!? That, my friends, is even worse in their minds than a complete rebuff.

And this is why you have, with these Seminaries and related churches, an installation of tokens and trophies to visible but ultimately, insignificant positions. They are trying to appear to do a lot but truthfully, they are not. Now and then at churches, for example, you will find a bit more of a representation of blacks and browns but generally, in the institutional positions of real power and persuasion, you will discover mostly whites and will for a long time. But the time will come when it will be taken over and become a liberal social justice institution existing for some racial, ethnic or cultural cause and no longer a spiritual one.

And guess what will happen when the neighborhood becomes predominated by these Afrocentric theological leftists?

That’s right, a new institution in the Ecclesiastical suburbs will have arisen and we are right back where we started from. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we will tell the truth and insist on the truth with both parties.

The Answer

The answer lies in the Bible. For some, it seems, the Bible is simply not enough. But for others, they thirst and may I give you some water.

The day you decide to see the construct of the church as Christ intended, is the day this racial, ethnic and cultural census counting will end for you and emancipation from the enslavement of humanism within the church, begins.

You will understand what it means to be reconciled to your brother in Christ, without insisting on placing the unbiblical and damnable impediment of racial, ethnic or cultural reconciliation in the way of Christ’s fellowship between believers.

Further, you will be able to properly evaluate the spiritual fitness of a congregation through a Biblical spiritual barometer and not a humanistically racialized one which is seeks to enter God’s church through racial piety.

Let me be clear. Outside of the Kingdom on the right or the church, we do have the Kingdom on the left in which exists the divine institution of civil government or civil establishment of collective government along with the smaller divine institutions of family, marriage and the self. And on that side of the two-Kingdom design of humanity for this age, the age of the church, your race, ethnicity and culture and many other anthropological/human properties are critically important and relevant to your personal identity along with your community/cultural and state identity. And it is here where these human properties are affirmed in the varying contexts where their relevancy rises or falls with respect to importance.

So do not imagine for a moment I am suggesting your race, ethnicity or culture are null and void or of no importance or consequence. They are, but in their proper context which is in the Kingdom on the left, that of the world or human government.

But when it comes to the church and God’s people, if a man is fit for ministry it will have nothing to do with his race nor will his race be of any consequence to him in that regard. Rather, it will have to do with his spiritual fitness which will be comprised of his moral, ethical and theological soundness which will result in the church’s moral, ethical and theological soundness ending in their spiritual fitness, no matter the race of the man or his flock because, in a healthy church, it will be the spiritual race with a spiritual objective.

More on which to chew and may the eyes of many readers be provoked toward the light.

Monday, April 17, 2017

THEODICY AND THE ANGELIC CONFLICT: WHERE ARE THE THEOLOGIANS?

For many disciples of Christ and consequentially those forming a personal theology (which we all form as Christians whether we understand that we do or not simply by virtue of how we live) the issue of theodicy - essentially why God permits and rules as he does with emphasis on why evil is permitted is expression in light of God's omnipotent power - eventually appears on the landscape of their lives and frequently integrates itself into their existence. From this, the Christian is compelled to ask a number of reasonable questions.

Several of these are as follows (in some form or another):
  • Why did God create man? 
  • Where did evil come from?
  • Why did God create man so weak that he could succumb to evil?
  • Why was it a fallen angel that tempted mankind and caused him to sin against God?
It is not uncommon to read or hear the answer to the first questions being one which states that man was created for God's glory. And with that, I have no qualms, the Bible states that much.

But what is begged, here, is that to assert man was created for God's glory is to force the question, why? Why did God decide his glory needed expressed via mankind's creation?

Was there an issue with his glory? Was God not getting the expression of his glory as it should be? 


Or course the answer to that is no, there was nothing wrong with God's glory being expressed or needing man to add to its expression.

So, then, why? What was going on?

The truth is that mankind's creation is a response to a previous event and it is of no coincidence or anecdote that both human history and the final judgment of Satan and mankind are co-terminus.


Why?

Well, the books I have shown at the beginning of this article explain, in great theological detail and with excellent documentation, the relationship between the fall of Satan and 1/3 of the heavenly host and mankind's creation, Christ's incarnation and our eventual eternal reign as co-heirs.


I encourage you to read and learn about the Angelic Conflict and its theological implications as well as explications. 

A final note - Donald Grey Barnhouse is one of the authors in the three books posted. I find it rather interesting that The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals loves to point to him as a theological anchor yet, few, if any of the members ever venture into the theological water contained in his book, The Invisible War.

Monday, April 3, 2017

THE COST OF FAILING TO WORSHIP AT THE ALTAR OF ECCLESIASTICAL RACIAL CORRECTNESS: AN OPINION PIECE ON BEHALF OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH AT LARGE

(The above is a parody of the sad, sad development which many are now witnessing as Evangelicals within the Evangelical church)

The nasty and abhorrent weaponizing of racial issues and in particular, some of its language, has now come full-force into the church as an acceptable practice in order silence objections and rebuttals. And the numerous Evangelical/Protestant voices which would ordinarily be expected to not only refute but rebuke the awfulness of this doctrine and its practice, are now self-suppressed and, as best I can tell, are hiding out - at least for the moment - at Coward’s Cove. I suspect this is lest they, too, be battered with the slimy, disgusting, reprehensible and demonically devised ordnance of the racist/racism label if they dare come to the aid of their comrade and more importantly, the truth.


Withdrawal is understandable when it involves one individual against company and when he likely realizes there is going to be little in the way of immediate and substantial assistance from those who claim to be colleagues with courage in a case where he has been whipped with the racism label by a squad of approved theological/ecclesiastical untouchables. What is not reasonable, however, is a group or groups, with substantial power, influence and God at their right hand (Psalm 16:8) while armed with God’s Word voluntarily muzzling themselves on such an occasion. There is little sympathy and comprehension regarding the silence of a man’s alleged peers, especially from well-funded and well-supplied legions.

To what do I allude?

I refer to a recent incident at what I view as Biblically unsound and truly spiritually counterproductive organization, Reformed African American Network and specifically from one of their podcasts, namely, the Truth’s Table Podcast, at which Todd Pruitt - a Presbyterian Minister and member of the Mortification of Spin blog/podcast effort (whom are, themselves (MOS), members of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals) – offered a critique of a podcast by the Truth’s Table members resulting in Todd Pruitt being assigned racism charges by the little Triumvirate who rule there.

In Todd’s words, where he wrote a response to the more than abominable reaction by Truth's Table in charging him with racism, he states at MOS under a blog post entitled No More Unto the Breach:
Much to the disappointment of many good friends I have made the decision to remove a critique I posted last week of a troubling podcast.

I was naive. Actually I feel quite stupid. When I saw the charges of racism being leveled against me just moments ago I decided immediately I would not subject my family or the church I serve to such wickedness.

Any of the dozens of pastors I heard from who were deeply troubled by the podcast are certainly welcome to speak out. I will not blame them if they don't. 

I've never been accused of being a racist before. When you see such a filthy charge in print it is stunning and sickening. I understand why it is such an effective tool to silence dissent.
In 2012 I wrote a blogpost warning about this and that it is coming to a church near you. It was titled, Reformed Blacks of America: A Closer Look at What is Really Being Promoted, A Christocentric Ecclesiology/Theology or Racially Narcissistic Afrocentrism? You would be Surprised and it is Coming to a Reformed/Calvinist or Evangelical Church Near You:

Well, it may not have come right to Todd’s church, but it has arrived at the doorstep of his life and ministry like the disease it is and he has robustly rejected the cataclysmic organization’s maliciousness as any kind of friend of him or his church.

Sadly, Pastor Pruitt was forced, tactically it appears, to express his repudiation in retreat. As I suggested earlier it was likely in knowing he is surrounded by pusillanimous leaders who feign fortitude with diminutive bullies but when the foe is Goliath, they run for the hills.

Awaken and Repent of your Dishonor, you Men of God

I can see no other way than to describe this as the modern monster for the Evangelical/Protestant church. Others and I, but not many, have written about the malady of Race Based Special Interest Theology invading the church. I have been called many names in doing this. Fine, I take them as they come because it only demonstrates a refusal by those derogating, to engage in debate. Ultimately, this means they do not have the truth as their interest rather, an agenda which they are unwilling to have scrutinized. That, my friend, is the work of lies and deception and we know who the father of that is.

If you are not sure how this contaminated fountain managed to be hooked up to the once theologically definitive and well-filtered water of the God’s Word in the Evangelical/Protestant church, it did so on the backs of American social racial policy which was turned from a civil/social argument to a moral one during the 1960’s. This was achieved through Martin Luther King and others who co-opted the Old Testament narrative of the enslavement of God’s people, the Hebrews, and Pharaoh’s refusal to give them their Divinely assigned right to freedom and pursuit of the grants given in the Divine Covenant to them from God. Thus, to deny civil rights was not simply a civil issue but suddenly it became a moral one through sloppy theology mixed with humanistic ideology.

Out of this began the misplaced admiration of using the church and its ministers as vehicles for civil rights efforts which was combined with the past failure of ecclesiastical racial discrimination (an error) which, when further mixed with a massive accumulation of endless white guilt foisted upon society as an incurable past offense (the wound that never heals) and the subsequent social black license granting the freedom to constantly accuse anyone challenging any effort by a black or other minorities, with racism, we have now permitted entrance into the church, a Frankenstein demon (with devastating practical results) perpetually equipped, by way of appallingly timid men, with an armament against which there is deliberately no defense.

Wake up, you fainthearted and poltroon so-called Commanders of all that is ecclesiastically right, before you authorize this theological Ogre to endlessly ravage God’s people. Arise and adjudicate with integrity and as champions of God’s truth!

What on God’s green earth is wrong with you Canonical Captains who are ostensibly Divinely titled to protect the flock? There be wolves spreading poison in the name of theological and spiritual nutrition and you stand there, with your boots welded to the ground by the solder of fear? Shame on you.

Peter and Paul – Pay Attention my Friends

The Apostle Peter instructs us in 2 Peter 2:9:
But you are a chosen race (γένος/genos), a royal priesthood, a holy nation (ἔθνος/ethnos), a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
It is true, we are not a white church but we are not a black church, either. To be clear, we, the church, are of one (γένος/genos) and of one (ἔθνος/ethnos). Peter makes it clear that any form of human racial/ethnic interests being forwarded by the church is in conflict with this protocol. We are to identify within the church, collectively and as individuals, with regard to our unique spiritual properties. In other words, our human racial and ethnic properties are simply rendered anecdotal and our spiritual identity/person is preeminent and transcendent.

Paul magnifies this in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new (καινὴ/kainē) creature (κτίσις/ktisis); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
That means our spiritual and ecclesiastical identity is to be based in something not existing before which Paul makes clear, is that which we receive when we are born again (our spiritual resurrection hence, the spiritual man) which is our spiritual identity. The basis, then, for our fellowship and ecclesiastical/spiritual camaraderie cannot be via our human or anthropological person but the new person in which we all share the same race/ethnicity which is the chosen and spiritual race/ethnicity, the same doctrine or thinking which is God’s Word and the same culture, which is Christ.

Finally, John writes in 1 John 1:3-4:
what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
Ecclesiastical/Spiritual Fellowship is Spiritual

The basis of fellowship between believers is their spiritual person with its spiritual properties given to us in Christ, in spite of what the modern pestilence of Race Based Special Interest Theology says which is forwarded by Reformed Blacks of American and (RBA), Reformed African American Network (RAAN) and The Gospel Coalition through its very visibly celebrated personalities such as John Piper, Al Mohler, Tim Keller and Russell Moore and a host of ministerial sycophants clinging to the every word of their Gurus as volunteers in the Echo Squad.

Your silence, men who know with certitude that this is error and others whose spiritual instincts are disturbed enough not to re-broadcast the destructive narrative of Race Based Special Interest Theology, is simply unacceptable. You are responsible, whether you like it not, to speak up and intervene for Christ’s people. Those who are now either being slayed by its malignant mouthpieces or friends watching friends suffer such abuse, is all a shameful impotency as you act as mutes with unwilling hearts to devote yourselves to the theological formula needed to combat this heinous solecism. Your ignominy does not go unnoticed, if not now, certainly on that day our Savior will examine your works.

An Answer to Embrace

No one Christian Bible teacher can have every answer but what I have stated above is a fundamental theological prescription which stands on its own with easily drawn implications and applications.

God’s church, his people, will and do come from every single human genetic group on earth as we see in Rev. 7, in the description of the church triumphant. And that is a descriptive reference to inform us that it was not just the Hebrews but for all men Christ came to save and provide a new life, a spiritual life which provides communion with him and his children. Thus, here on earth, when a man or woman believes the gospel, he or she enters into a new body, Christ’s body. They are a new creature.

This is the preeminent message and paramount identity upon which new believer’s spiritual life, nay his or hers whole life, rests. So to add the leaven of social conquest to the purity of spiritual conquest and the related doctrines for our walk with Christ and together as a church, is malfeasance dear ministers.

How can we actually fellowship together as one body when humanly/anthropologically based special interests and fractures are actually promoted as a way of ecclesiastical/spiritual life? There is no such thing as black theology, white theology or Asian theology. African theology? No. Turkish theology? No. Russian theology? No.

It is only Christ’s theology. One Christ, one doctrine, one family and one source of our unique and shared spiritual DNA.

Yes…

I get that there are social conflicts but that is the point. Those are social conflicts. Those are left kingdom pursuits. It is true that the Bible can inform the kingdom on the left but it certainly stops short of dogmatic prescription on almost every matter other than moral issues and doubtless, left kingdom quests are not the calling of God’s church. She is the kingdom on the right, a spiritual body with a spiritual mission.

Which is why, as I covered earlier, the issue of racial civil rights was deliberately equated to a moral issue. 

If something is morally wrong the Bible is clear and dogmatic, but in the case of racial/ethnic social interests and conflicts (whatever they be) the Bible is not dogmatic by any stretch so when we (and we have or allowed ourselves to accept this theological claim by others) manufacture a way to make these issues fall under the category of a Biblical absolute morality, then all we have to do to silence someone is call them a racist. Of course, no such equivalence exists in the Bible nor in any historical theology but this is exactly what has been done and now accepted by the Evangelical church.

It is a painful process to wake up from deception when you have swallowed it so eagerly with your ego fully invested. But when the terminating machine knocks at your door demanding you or your offspring, well, wakey-wakey time either arrives or the eternal grave of denial is dug.

Do you oppose civil rights? Are you a closet racist?

I do not oppose anyone seeking civil rights and if I agree that the rights they seek are legitimate, I will not only embrace their efforts but participate with them, at times, if my life permits such a use of my resources. Whatever label that earns me in your mind, so be it. Either you wish to have a dialog or debate or you prefer the easy route of posturing and the devilish treachery of defamation.

And yes, I believe the general efforts by blacks and other minorities for equal rights was constitutionally legitimate.

However…

What I do not accept, on the other hand, are the pendulant excesses in response to past exclusion and mistreatment in some cases, which exists in today’s social formula in approaching black/white relationships and all other more broad civil constructs with conflict which is to disgustingly assign with presumption and malice, the guilt of racism toward those objecting to the voice of a racial/ethnic minority when an objection is raised. The reprehension of such a practice cannot be overstated.

And sadly, nay, more than sadly, rather with miserable despondence, we have in today’s Evangelical/Protestant church, men and women who are proud of such arrogance and antipathy as they swagger from church to church and blog to blog online, casting the dark shadow of racial accusation and guilt, day and day out. They trade in the diabolic merchandise of recklessly imputing unhallowed shame.

Where oh where are the men of God who will quit fearing this ungodly corner of leprosy and bring the cure of sound theology which our Savior provides in his Word? Where are the men of spiritual vibrancy able to cast out such theological brutes and rebuke these rapidly coagulating racial militants within the church?

I suppose they are simply too afraid. God help us.

*Rarely do I ask this but if you have read this and believe it to be a fair and considerable challenge, please share it. The church is truly being ravaged by this issue.

Monday, March 27, 2017

TITUS 3:5 - TAKING OUT THE LUTHERAN TRASH: BAPTISMAL REGENERATION



The immense theologian, Martin Luther, came to faith long after his Catholic baptism via his enlightenment by God of the gospel following his considerable search for justification before God Almighty. Subsequent to Luther’s great awakening at age 36, he ministered in blitzkrieg fashion, much of it in the way of theological formulas - the law and gospel paradigm being most prominent - which were to aid in the transformation of the church in her worldwide arousal to justification by faith.

In his own spiritual arousal within Catholicism, it was not the intent of Luther to issue an invalidation of the Catholic church but of her errors. This background to Luther’s thinking and disposition is critical in understanding his theology.


What I mean is that Luther, much like all of us, no matter how greatly we might find unique spiritual edification from our peers and embrace sound doctrine, will ultimately reflect some element(s) of our time in history - some a little and others exceedingly - which will be planted in our theological expressions no matter how close to theological chastity we come. And this is the case with Martin Luther.

Though Luther sought to remain in the Catholic church, it was inevitable that those who followed Martin Luther’s fundamental teaching on justification by faith in Christ alone and apart from personal merit, would be compelled to form a new ecclesiastical body. And in forming that Protestant or ecclesiastically reformed body away from the Catholic church it was not without bringing some theological ghosts or as my title presents, refuse.

And I say all of this to qualify my topic regarding the theological litter that somewhat, unavoidably, was transported by Luther, Melanchthon and Chemnitz and company and embraced by the Lutheran church’s line of teachers and disciples. I realize that calling it rubbish is a bit harsh sounding, possibly you might prefer baggage or apparitions, which I alluded to a moment ago. That is fine diplomacy but I’m not so shy or reticent thus, coerced by the obligation to couch it in friendly terms seeing that on this occasion, the circumstance of baptismal regeneration, so much damage has been done.

While Luther did carry with him out of his spiritual regeneration many critical theological treasures which I do not hesitate to acknowledge and praise and look forward to meeting him in heaven and happily state rather effortlessly that he, no doubt, will measure greater reward than I, still, I must address the fact that he also bore a number of problematic theological ideas and one of those was the Catholic teaching of the sacraments, though he kept only two, which forward the claim that participating in the sacraments is a means of grace by which one may be saved and in particular, baptismal regeneration.

And so, today, I want to tackle only one text which I hope will be part of a number of posts addressing the errant doctrine of baptismal regeneration.

Titus 3:5

One of the favorite passages cited by Lutherans in appealing to baptismal regeneration is in Titus. Chapter three and verse five states (NASB):
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
And in pointing to this text Lutherans famously believe it is somewhat plain in supporting their theological idea. Essentially, it is the word “washing” which is their pivotal qualifier since it is predicated with “he saved us, not on the basis of deeds but…by the washing”. In their mind this washing must be identified as the water baptism performed by the church.

What Lutheranism Gets Correct

Before I chastise Lutheran theology I want to acknowledge some positive fruit, here. Lutheranism rightly points to the clarity of the text that human merit is absolutely null and void with respect to our receiving Divine approbation in salvation. Only through God’s provision, which comes through God’s mechanism - which we can only receive by faith - are we given Divine justification. Only God can and does cleanse us through His agency. This sweet Lutheran honey must not be overlooked in spite of the mishandling of a segment of the text which has given credence, in their minds, to baptismal regeneration.

Let’s Start with the Obvious

Simply upon the immediate and plain reading of the text we encounter the unmistakably conspicuous problem of claiming this refers to water baptism. The text is referring to an act by the Holy Spirit. Water baptism, on the other hand, is an act performed by a human being.

Two texts help us compare the difference.

Matthew 28:19-20 contains the command from Jesus to the Apostles to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” To whom is the command to baptize given and to what baptism does this refer?

The answer, of course, is that the baptism is a water baptism and the ones who are to perform this action are not the Holy Spirit but humans.

Acts 8:34-38 tells the story of the Eunuch who was reading Isaiah and Phillip coming along to explain the gospel to him. At one point they come to some water where the Eunuch asks to be baptized where the following is occurs:
36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Again, who performs the baptism, what kind of baptism is it and further, on what basis is the baptism performed?

Phillip performs the baptism. But notice that he insists on faith in the gospel, first, before baptizing the Eunuch.

Comparing…

The text in Titus refers to a washing by the Holy Spirit. The water baptisms in Scripture always have the washing or baptism, being performed by humans.

These two contexts are not the same. The only means by which one can assert that Titus is referring to water baptism is to impose onto the text or read into the text (eisegesis) something that is not there. Generally, it is an assumption by Lutherans that this must have in view water baptism primarily because the word “washing” is there.

Forcing the Bible to Match Theology…

One of the common problems with pledging allegiance to a school of theology is that once the oath is made, consciously or unconsciously, an individual will be compelled to produce artificial textual interpretations of Scripture to make it match their theological mottoes. This is quite common with certain Augustinian/Calvinist formulas which I have referred to in the past and here, in Lutheran theology, we see this practice on this occasion. But I will confess, it is far less in Lutheranism than in any other Protestant theology I’ve studied and many Evangelicals are guilty of this in their own proprietary formulas in greater numbers than Lutheranism.

The Grammatical Problem

Having examined the most immediate issue, let’s look at the related and more precise grammatical issue which is the second element for consideration.

A comparison text from Ephesians

The word, “washing” comes from λουτροῦ (loutrou) which commonly means either a bath or to bathe (ritually or for actual bathing of the body), depending on the use as a noun or verb and is often translated under the context of an ecclesiastical “baptism”. However, it also can have a spiritual context and not one of water.

A passage which uses the dative, neuter, singular form is Ephesians 5:25-26:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Instantly, what we must observe is the use of the word “washing” apart from water. In this text, Christ has washed or cleansed with the Word of God. Hence, we have a gravitational use of cleansing/sanctification by Christ for one’s justification described as washing apart from baptism but with the Word (the Gospel) which, when believed, is the agent of cleansing.

Why Point out Ephesians?

While Ephesians is not the sole reference to washing in the Bible and in fact, is in the minority with reference to its use in the context of spiritual washing, it is important because of the claim by many baptismal regeneration proponents in asserting that the washing - when salvation is mentioned (or its elements) - must refer to a literal act thus, their appeal to water baptism in Titus.

Therefore, in response to any such theological pleading, especially here where we have washing not merely in the context of a non-water event but, in fact, one in the context of the spiritual washing which produces salvation, we must denote that water is nowhere in sight, rather, it is the gospel which washes.

This Ephesians passage uses the dative to identify the means of sanctifying (her – the church) and having cleansed (her – the church) which is “by means of” using the Word to wash her. In essence, it is using the dative to identify the means of the church’s sanctification and cleansing, which is by being washed, not with water but with the Word of God.

The main point here, ultimately, is to illustrate a clear spiritual use of the word washing, in association with spiritual cleansing or sanctification which results in our salvation. 

The Genitive in Titus along with verse six

So, now to the main passage in question in Titus. Normally one isolates Titus 3:5 in formulating the argument of this passage being about water baptism. I am going to include verse six to magnify that mistake after I focus on the genitive. I believe the reader will appreciate what verse six brings, mostly in the way of qualifying verse five and enlarging the obvious.

Titus 3:5-6
5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

1. The main portion for consideration regarding grammatical properties is the phrase in verse 5, “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Here, the genitive case is used.

The term “genitive” is much like our word genesis. It points to some kind of origin. In the noun, it points to the noun as being either the origin of an action or having some kind of significant relationship to the action of the verb.

There are many kinds of genitives which are only, at times, slightly differentiated and often disputed. In this case we have what is primarily one of three kinds of genitives: 
  • a descriptive genitive (which refers to the verb belonging to the noun)
  • a possessive genitive which is almost the same but more directly identifies the noun as being the undeniable source of the action of the verb
  • a genitive of relationship which attaches a significant relationship of the noun to the verb. In all three cases, they fall under the greater taxonomy of adjectival genitives.

Ultimately, then, what stands out is that the actions of λουτροῦ/loutrou (washing), παλινγενεσίας/palingenesias (regeneration) and ἀνακαινώσεως/ anakainōseōs (to make anew – referencing the new spiritual species 2 Cor. 5:17, the new man in Colossians 3:10) are all actions “of the Holy Spirit”.

It is not a human baptizing with water in any way nor may the text be said to reference water, apart, that is, from what we term eisegesis or reading into or importing into the text what is not there. This washing is simply and undeniably an action of God the Holy Spirit.

Yes, it is a baptism but not a water baptism, rather the spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit who washes us, regenerates us and makes us new in the new birth. Which brings me to the next verse, often ignored in water baptism appeals that should bring the context into obvious clarity.

2. Verse 6 states, “Whom he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior”. Immediately what do we see? We see this is precisely the context the Holy Spirit being poured upon us. This is the spiritual pouring, by God, of the Spirit which occurs when one believes the gospel!

You'd think I might have more to say on this point but actually, that is it. Why? Because it is so overwhelmingly prima facie, at least in my view, in qualifying the context.

Conclusion

While I appreciate the numerous contributions of Lutheran theology and note that a considerable lot of its good and excellent properties are under attack today, still, it brought with it out of Catholicism, some defective elements. These elements are ones which I believe injure the Lutheran church, severely.

Often in Lutheran churches you will hear, not an emphasis on believing the gospel but on being baptized. It is used, in my view, as a vehicle to avoid the hard questions of genuine faith. It is also a means of qualifying people for membership so that souls may be added to the ecclesiastical roll but not necessarily to the divine one.

I am not saying that ultimately, no one is ever simultaneously saved when they are baptized but it is not because of the baptism rather, it is because of the illumination of God the Holy Spirit regarding the gospel of Christ and that person’s understanding of what Christ has done that saves him or her because of his/her faith in that truth. 

Water baptism does not somehow force upon an individual a willingness to believe and the exercise of faith apart from one's own desire to believe and be saved. However, it can occur that one believes while being baptized but such simultaneous events, I believe, are rare and this is to say nothing of the most egregious claims of Lutheran theology namely, that of infants believing the gospel via water baptism.

Anyhow, this is not meant to be an extremely scholarly effort but as usual, a pedestrian one. One, however, which I believe is fundamentally unimpeachable with regard to the basic structure and properties of the text which, in order to overcome and make the argument for baptismal regeneration, one is forced to ignore these structural components of the text, explain them away, attack the messenger or amp up their mic and silence their theological opponent.