Confronting the Chaos of Our Culture with the Love of Christ

Our culture seems to be described perfectly in 2 Timothy 3:2-4. It says, “Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

As Christians, what is more important than the description of the culture is how scripture calls believers to respond in times like this. The righteous are not to be afraid of bad news; their heart is to be firm, trusting in the Lord (Psalm 112:7). Yet, many churchgoers seem to be at their whit’s end as they watch it all unfold. It is as if they believe this fiery trial is something strange (1 Peter 4:12). It seems we have had it so good for so long that we have forgotten what the Bible promised us. It says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim. 3-12).” In the west, Christians need to remember that the persecution of the church was not put to death; it was only made sick, and it is beginning to recover.

If you asked many believers if they would be willing to die for Jesus, they would say “yes,” yet the sad reality is more and more church members are indicating that even after COVID is no longer a threat, they would prefer to keep watching church online. Their couch and their coffee seem to be too much to sacrifice. Besides, with the world raging around us, our home feels safer, but being safe is not our calling.

If the troubles of 2020 are causing you to lose your spiritual nerve, it would be helpful to recall Paul’s words to Timothy in light of his fallen culture. Paul encouraged Timothy by telling him to “kindle afresh the gift of God that is in you (2 Tim. 1:6). That gift is the faith God has given us through the Holy Spirit. Our lives are to be marked by his presence. Instead of cowering in the corner, we are to remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).

Now is not the time to be ashamed of our faith, we must be willing to stand with those who are persecuted, and be ready to join them in their suffering if called to do so (2 Tim. 1:8): even as a criminal (2 Tim. 2:9). Remember, when the world comes after you, they will not say it is because you are a Christian, they will make up some other charge, and they will be charges of unlawfulness which will have accompanying penal codes. Countless Christians throughout history have been locked up and even put to death in such a manner.

However, there is no reason for us to fear. Jesus has abolished death, so be strong (2 Tim. 1-10). If we are unable to look at the attacks on biblical truth in our culture through the lens of the resurrection, then it is proof that we need to kindle our faith afresh. Are you spiritually minded enough that you would be willing to suffer hardship like a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:3)?

Repentance starts at home. The Lord knows who are his, and everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness (2 Tim. 2:19). Even if the world calls us a danger to society for doing it. If we cleanse ourselves from these things, we will be a vessel of honor, sanctified, useful to the Lord (2 Tim. 2:21). As we see what appears to be the slow collapse of the culture around us, it is time for the church to be a city on a hill. It is time for Christians to be salt and light. The way we do that is not by following the world’s pattern of grasping for power. We are to confront the culture with the love of Christ. This means to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, be meek, humble of heart, and be willing to be persecuted for his name’s sake.

Why would we do that? The love of Jesus. We love our great Savior, and we love the ungodly. We understand them because we used to be them. We have been lovers of self, unholy, ungrateful, and unloving. We know that the sexually immoral, the idolater, the adulterer, and those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). More than that, we understand that such were some of us, but we were washed, we were sanctified. The wrath of God that stood over us for our sins, Christ bore on the cross as our substitute. We have been justified in the name of Jesus (1 Cor. 6:11).

Jesus has blotted out our iniquities and removed our death sentence. What else could we need? What else could we want? What else do we have to fear? Because of his great love for us, we deny ourselves, take up or cross, and follow him (Matt. 16:24). We are no longer debtors to the flesh to live according to its dictates (Romans 8:12). By the spirit, we resist our sinful desires because we have a greater love: Jesus Christ. The world is living according to the flesh, and those who live according to the flesh will die (Rom. 8:13). The wages of sin still hangs over them. We cannot, and we will not participate in their ways. We will not go back to the bondage now that Christ has set us free.

We will call the lost world to salvation in Jesus, even if many in this world hate us for it. We will continue to the point the way because it is what they need more than anything. If they must go to hell, let us make them leap over our dead bodies to get there (C. Spurgeon). Greater love has no one but this, that someone would be willing to lay down their life for them (John 15:13). As we share in the suffering of Christ, our pain will be a present reality of how much he loves them. There is no wrath or torment that man can throw our way to make us move. There is no peace this world can offer that can compare to the peace of God and the eternal glory that awaits.

The world may do terrible things to the Church, but, in a fallen world, times of trial and persecution are often when the gospel shines the brightest. Persecution will indeed blow away the tares among us. I fear many professing Christians have forgotten our calling. They have lost the plot and traded it in for a life of pursuing earthly pleasures. In times of trouble, we will see many go out from us because they were never really of us (1 John 2:19). At that point, we will not hate them for their betrayal; we will see their lost spiritual condition, love them, and call them to find salvation in Jesus in the same way we do for all the lost. The chaos of our culture is not a threat to our witness; it is a prime opportunity for it. Indeed, all who desire to live for Jesus will be persecuted, and through it, our great God will be glorified as we confront the world with the love of Christ.

-D. Eaton

Recognizing the Glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God. Psalm 19:1

When we look at the universe, we wonder at the magnificence. We stand in awe as the massive spheres move perfectly in their orbits. We stand amazed at the power of our sun and realize it pales in comparison to many other stars, let alone the vastness of it all.

There is, without a doubt, a glory announced by the universe that causes us all to marvel, but we must realize the glory that is declared is not the glory of the universe; it is the glory of God. The experience we have is true knowledge of the Lord Almighty. Now, we must not misunderstand this, the verse in the Psalm 19 does not say that the universe is God. In fact, it is clearly distinct from him in this passage, but the Glory that we are experiencing is our Father’s. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1: 20).”

This is where the natural man steps in and attempts to suppress that truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Many naturalists say it should be enough for us to marvel at this world and all its complexities without any appeal to God, and this is what we should expect them to say since the natural progression from trading the truth of God for a lie, is to begin worshiping the creation instead of the creator (Romans 1:25). This is exactly what they are doing when they ascribe the glory that belongs to God to creation itself.

As for believers, we have every reason to rejoice and praise our Father who made it all. All we need to do to get a glimpse of His splendor is slow down, look around, and with childlike wonder, recognize glory of God.

-D. Eaton

Fertility is Not a Disease

The sexual revolution has so altered the worldview of many, that we now often treat fertility as a disease. It devastates lives, there are prescriptions to keep its symptoms at bay, and there are surgical procedures to cure it altogether.

To our culture, it seems that fertility has its most devastating effects on women. Men only suffer from its effects tangentially through the pain it inflicts on women. Men can more easily side-step virtue and walk away if the manifestation of the disease becomes too much to bear, but women do not have that luxury.

For women, fertility has ruined careers, helps hold the glass ceiling in place, and, before the technology was invented to end its tyrannical reign, it even kept women from fulfilling their purpose in life by forcing them to neglect their careers and devote time to nurturing their families. Thankfully, to the secular mind, science has overcome this atrocity. If the unthinkable happens, we can now have the life-ruining cancer removed at any neighborhood Planned Parenthood.

Sexual pleasure has become the god of our culture to which all other gods must bow. One of its contenders is reproduction itself. We must separate the pleasure of sex from reproduction and fertility, or there can be no sexual freedom. “My body, my choice” is the battle cry of a generation who, whether they realize it or not, are rebelling against their natural design. Nature, not the patriarchy, is what our culture hates most.

Let us not be naive; this treatment of sex and fertility is the end of a long line of pathologies that have plagued society for centuries. Absent fathers, the breakdown of the family unit, divorce, and pornography; all of these often stem from the same root. That root is the desire to have sexual pleasure without constraint. It is impossible to lay the ax to the root of the sexual revolution without also laying the ax to the root of these as well. This shared foundation is why many people are, rightfully, often charged with hypocrisy when they stand against abortion but have no problem with the casual sex culture.

This desire to have sexual pleasure without constraint has culture suppressing the truth of not only biblical revelation, but also science. In order to be able to justify the extermination of the child, we must classify the child in the womb as either not a human in its natural course of existence or not alive. It is impossible to deny either scientifically, yet, on the altar of sexual autonomy, logic and truth must be sacrificed.

Is it possible to use birth control in a way that does not lead to the conclusion described above? Yes, but we are reaching the bottom of the slippery slope that exists in a world where we hold the shackles of our created nature in contempt, and the technological abilities to side-step those realities coexist. Birth control will only ever be properly used within the confines of marriage in a world that understands that we have been created by a good God who knows what is best for us. A world where we understand that moral restraint is a path to human flourishing. What our society calls constraints, are God-given structures to show us the path to sexual fulfillment.

This post may raise more questions than it answers, but hopefully by framing it this way, it will help us pause and think through the state of our culture a little more deeply. Until we fall in line with the word of God, we will continue to rebel against our Creator’s good intentions for our lives. In our revolt, we curse our blessings and pursue our demise, but praise God, since we have all fallen short, for those who place their faith in Jesus, he will forgive their sins. He will wash them, and they will be whiter than snow. From that point, he will begin to conform us to his image where we will glorify him and enjoy him forever.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! -Psalm 127:3-5

-D. Eaton

deities of decay

Truth is our creation:
new dogma.
Gender is a feeling.
Identity, desire.
Bigotry.
The wealthy are evil.
Their riches, our ambition.
The free market creates kings,
the government needs more power.
Sacrifice to save our mother.
The fetus, unnatural.
Patriarchy.
The only sin is sin.
“God is dead.”
His decomposition,
our deities of decay.

-D. Eaton

The Best Books I Read this Year

Out of the 60 books I read this year, eight were given five-star ratings. Here are my favorites regardless of the genre and in no particular order.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon  Autobiography: The Early  Years 1834-1860 Volume 1  -     By: Charles H. Spurgeon The Autobiography of Spurgeon – Vol. 1 – Charles Spurgeon

This book is significant in length and full of thoughts of a man filled with the Spirit of God. Not only will you learn more about his story, but it will be delivered to you in a way that exalts the living God. If you are one to underline or make notes in your books, be sure to have a pen ready because this book is full of great spurgeonisms.

Image result for Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus - Nabeel QureshiSeeking Allah, Finding Jesus – Nabeel Qureshi

I pick up this book because I was moved by hearing of Nabeel’s untimely death near the end of 2017, and I am so glad I did. Not only will you be moved by a beautiful true story of conversion, but, along the way, you will also pick up several apologetic arguments delivered in an accessible and engaging way. As a fellow Christian, I was given a glimpse into the heart of my brother in Christ as the Lord patiently called him to himself over the course of several years. I highly recommend this book.

Image result for The Letters of John - Colin KruseThe Letters of John – Colin Kruse

Ligonier lists this book as their number one commentary on the letters of John, and I can see why. Even if you don’t agree where he lands on every issue, Kruse’s clarity and precision are unmatched. This commentary is perfect for anyone who will be teaching through the letters or simply studying alone at home.

Image result for The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen - Sinclair FergusonThe Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen – Sinclair Ferguson

I picked up this book because I wanted to learn a little more about a man of faith I admire, and I ended up being ministered to. Sinclair Ferguson presents some of the biblical truths that centered John Owens life in such a way that it had me rejoicing in those truths as well. It is a short and easy read, and you won’t be disappointed.

Image result for Voices from the Past - Richard RushingVoices from the Past – Richard Rushing

A little over a year ago I received Voices from the Past, edited by Richard Rushing, as a gift, and what a gift it was. This devotion is a collection of writings from great Christian writers like John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, and Thomas Watson et. al. If you are looking for substance in your daily reading, this is the book for you. Rarely will a day go by where you are not given something that spurs you on in godliness. It will comfort you where you need to be comforted, and it will convict you where you need to be convicted.

Image result for The Gospel Come With A Housekey - Rosaria ButterfieldThe Gospel Come With A Housekey – Rosaria Butterfield

What an encouraging book this is. I enjoyed this book more than her autobiography, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. In this book you will be challenged to put your gospel love into practice by opening yourself and home in a way that focuses more on the people present than the usual way it is done, being more attentive to our homes than the people to whom we are ministering. This book will challenge you.

Image result for The Diary of David BrainerdThe Diary of David Brainerd – David Brainerd

This is not a book to read quickly. I read it over the course of a year. Since these journal entries, some sections will start to seem repetitive if you try to read it in a short time, but if you read it over a more extended period, you will be able to marinate in the mindset of this godly man. You will be reminded daily that we are part of something much bigger and we should be redeeming the time.

Image result for four laws of executionThe Four Disciplines of Execution – Chris McChesney and Sean Covey

I tend to read several business books a year in the desire to be better at my job. However, few of them end up making it to the top of my list. This is one of the few. If you are responsible for leading a team to accomplish big things, this book will help you get it done.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter – Liz Wiseman
  • The Saints Everlasting Rest – Richard Baxter
  • Dragon Teeth – Michael Crichton
  • And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

 

 

10 Arguments Thoughtful Atheists Won’t Use

10 Arguments Thoughtful Atheists Won't UseThrough countless discussions surrounding atheism, it has become apparent that someone has been feeding bad advice to atheists. Since the following errors are repeatedly made, this partial list has been populated to warn atheists so they can avoid these pitfalls. If you are an atheist and hear any of the following advice, realize that these arguments are not good arguments.

1. Use a false analogy and believe that because you compare theism to believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster that you have made a good argument.

2. Apply absolute standards of morality that atheism is unable to produce, and argue that Christianity is an immoral religion.

3. When you are having trouble answering an argument posed by a Christian theist, simply throw out a red herring and say, “well even if this were true, it doesn’t prove the existence of the ‘Christian’ God.”

4. Confuse assumptions with arguments and assume that simply because you explain phenomena from a naturalistic perspective that it constitutes an argument which must be true.

5. When arguing against the Christian God, simply say that you only believe in “one less god” than most people, as if that has no other implications, and does not require you to defend an atheistic understanding of cosmology, anthropology, ethics, philosophy of history, philosophy of politics, philosophy of science, and epistemology.

6. Refute yourself by making statements that suggest that metaphysics are a waste of time while presupposing abstract first principles and the true nature of reality.

7. Contradict yourself by arguing that we should only believe things proven by empirical evidence without proving it with empirical evidence.

8. Borrow from the Christian worldview and use logic like it is a universal, transcendent, unchanging reality when atheistic naturalism cannot account for universal, transcendent, unchanging realities.

9. Beg the question and argue that there is no evidence to believe in the existence of God because all the evidence that is produced, fails to pass the standards of evidence which have been constructed from your belief that God does not exist.

10. Contradict yourself and argue that human beings are robots, puppets, and machines programmed by natural selection in a closed system of cause and effect, and then argue for free thought and moral agency.

For more on this, we spent and an episode of the Apologetics.com radio show discussing these arguments. You can find the mp3 at the following link 10 Arguments Thoughtful Atheists Won’t Use.

 

Take A Stand Against Error – J. Gresham Machen

Men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end.

Some years ago I was in a company of teachers of the Bible in the colleges and other educational institutions of America. One of the most eminent theological professors in the country made an address. In it he admitted that there are unfortunate controversies about doctrine in the Epistles of Paul; but, said he in effect, the real essence of Paul’s teaching is found in the hymn to Christian love in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians; and we can avoid controversy today, if we will only devote the chief attention to that inspiring hymn.

In reply, I am bound to say that the example was singularly ill-chosen. That hymn to Christian love is in the midst of a great polemic passage; it would never have been written if Paul had been opposed to controversy with error in the Church. It was because his soul was stirred within him by a wrong use of the spiritual gifts that he was able to write that glorious hymn. So it is always in the Church. Every really great Christian utterance, it may almost be said, is born in controversy. It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of truth.

J. Gresham Machen-

The Mormon Challenge to Seeker Churches

“[Approximately] 75-80 percent of Mormon converts come from specifically Protestant background. A well-known saying within LDS circles, based on the average size of a Baptist church in America, is “We baptize a Baptist church every week.” Whatever the actual figures are, the fact is that far more people convert to Mormonism from evangelical churches than vice versa. Second, given the current levels of biblical and theological literacy in evangelical churches and the kinds of converts produced by certain segments of the church growth movement, I am skeptical that evangelicalism is growing in the right kind of way to stave off groups like the Mormons. An increasingly theologically illiterate laity and an entertainment-focused pastoral ministry opens wide the doors of opportunity for Mormonism and other heterodox movements to attract converts from our churches.”

~Carl Mosser The New Mormon Challenge~

Understanding Moral Dilemmas 3: Graded Absolutism

We have been looking at how moral absolutists understand moral dilemmas. So far, we have covered an introduction to moral absolutism, non-conflicting absolutism, and conflicting absolutism. We will now, in this final post on this topic, look at a graded absolutism

Graded Absolutism (GA)

The last way to address moral dilemmas is to argue that there is a hierarchy built into God’s moral law, and at times, some laws supersede other laws which is meant to handle these conflicts. This view is called graded absolutism. It is held by theologians such as Norman Geisler, Stephen Mott, and Millard Erickson.

The graded absolutist starts out with the explanation that some laws are weightier than others (Matt 5:19), and some commands are greater than others (Matt. 23:23). This position can be explained quite simply when we think of civil disobedience. According to scripture, we are to obey the civil government, but what if that civil government commands us to worship a false god. Built into God’s absolute moral law of obeying government is the idea that we should do it only if it does not contradict God’s law. This is because obeying God is much greater command than obeying the government.

In the case of the midwives who lied in Egypt or Rahab who lied to hide the spies, the proponent of GA says that God actually deals well with them for their lying (Exodus 1:20). In these situations the greater command, to which lying must yield, is the protection of human life. GA differs from the conflicting absolutist in two ways. First, the conflicting absolutist says you must choose between the lesser of two evils, and second, when you do it you have sinned. The graded absolutist says you must choose between the greater of two goods, and when you do it, even if it involves violating a lesser good, you have done something commendable. The proponent of GA does not merely say that in a situation like this that lying is allowed in the sense that to do it is to be held innocent. They go further and say that the lie is virtuous, and to not do it would be wrong.

In the case of the mother with the tumor (see previous two posts), they would say that to try and save the mother is the greatest good because you seek to save both in spite of the minimal percentage of success in protecting the child. To attempt to save both lives even at the cost of losing one is the greater good than letting one die without any effort to save them both.

Strengths of this position

1) It has quite a bit of scriptural support for its graded view. Even the Ten Commandments seem to be listed in order of weight.
2) It sees God’s moral law in its entirety as absolute without waiver or conflict. The conflict only happens between specific commands.
3) It can answer many difficult passages in the Bible with ease, such as David eating the “bread of the presence” (see Mark 2:26)

Weaknesses

1) It wavers on the absolute nature of specific commands.
2) It can appear to be a lesser version of situational ethics.

I realize these short posts cannot answer all the questions, but I hope you have found them helpful in priming the pump when it comes to understanding moral dilemmas as a moral absolutist.

D. Eaton

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Understanding Moral Dilemmas 2: Conflicting Absolutism

So far we have covered a basic introduction to moral absolutism, and we have looked at how non-conflicting absolutism handles moral dilemmas. Today we will consider conflicting absolutism.

Conflicting Absolutism (CA)

Another way to deal with moral dilemmas is to admit that they do exist and try to deal with them head-on. This is the position of the conflicting absolutist. This position is held by theologians such as Helmut Thielicke, John Warwick Montgomery, J.I. Packer, and E.J. Carnell. This position is also known as ideal absolutism, as it believes that ideally God’s laws do not conflict, but in this fallen world there are times when they do. They also conclude that part of the conflict is due to a lack of understanding on our part. This fallen world creates ambiguity.

This position is probably the easiest to explain. When confronted with a moral dilemma, such as the midwives lying to protect the children or Rahab lying to protect the spies (see Joshua 2:1), what we must do is choose the lesser of two evils. In these two instances lying is the lesser sin than failing to protect the life of your neighbor. In these situations what we must do is admit that we had done wrong, repent, and ask God for forgiveness. In both of these situations, God praised the women, not for their lying, but for their faith and doing the best they could in such a terrible situation.

In the case of the mother with a tumor (see previous posts), it would be a greater sin to let the mother die without any attempt to save them both since we never know for certain if the child will die. Though the chance of losing the child may be 99.9%, to not attempt to save the mother would be the greater sin. If the child dies, we must then ask for forgiveness.

Strengths of this position,

1) This view makes another strong attempt to stick to absolutes.
2) It’s not afraid to face moral dilemmas head-on.

Weaknesses

1) It begins to weaken those absolutes by stating that they can be ambiguous in this fallen world.
2) What do we do with the scripture that says Jesus was tempted in every way as we are? Does this mean that Jesus was tempted in a way that He had to choose between two sins, thus making him a sinner? Or was he not tempted in this way thus making the “tempted” verse untrue.
3) This verse also seems to go against the idea of repentance. To repent is to ask God for forgiveness with the notion that we will do our best not to do it again. But in this case, we would have every intention of doing it again if faced with the same situation because it’s the best decision we can make.

It seems this is the weakest of all three positions, but I do not consider J.I. Packer a lightweight, in fact, I enjoy most of what he has to say. I have not read him on this particular issue which makes me wonder if I’ve missed something in my studies. But after reading Thielicke, this is the understanding of this position as he presents it.

In the next post on this topic, we will deal with the most controversial but probably the most logically consistent position: graded absolutism.

D. Eaton

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