Thursday, February 11, 2016

Prata's Potpourri: Discernment, Lent, Sinclair Ferguson, Jesus Calling, battling bitterness, more

Here in North Georgia we have run the gamut with weather. Snow flurries so pretty and swirling the bus driver at our school said it was like being inside a snow globe. Then we had a harsh freeze and temps in the low teens with bad wind chills. Yet today things bounced back with sunny and warm air and the forsythia is popping out. I love the early spring here in the south (early compared to my previous abode in Maine). Once last week in a warm spell, I heard peepers.

Peepers are tiny frogs, which according to Wikipedia,
is a small chorus frog widespread throughout the eastern USA and Canada. They are so called because of their chirping call that marks the beginning of spring. 

Spring means Easter and Easter means to Lent or not to Lent. The Lenten season began yesterday.

Lent, yes or no? By 9Marks
Five reasons not to observe Lent by Entreating Favor
Origins of Lent at Grace To You

In this day and age of apostasy, hatred, and brutality- and I'm speaking of inside the church- a bitterness grows in the wounded Christian heart. Bitterness is a killer, Eric Davis says, we have to be on guard against it. Here are some ways to combat it as outlined in Davis' essay The Normal Battle with Bitterness

Seven years ago Dr Al Mohler wrote against a novel that was sweeping the church, The Shack. Tomorrow I am doing a retrospective on the book and digging deeper into the discernment realm by jumping off from this article from Dr Mohler, but until then, here is his article, The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

Need encouragement? Sinclair Ferguson provides, in his essay A deeper lineage than our genes

Here is Lil, a pastor's wife at Embracing the Lovely on Why I won't be finishing Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
I’m 9 days into the New Year and 10 days into reading "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. It’s been one of the best selling devotionals for the past 10 years, so I decided to pick up a copy on New Year’s Day. ... I’m on Day 10 and I just can’t bring myself to read any more. I. Just. Can’t.
We in America have been blessed with the opportunity for unfettered freedom of speech. The internet has been a boon for those wishing to use it for a Christian witness. However, Twitter is making some troubling moves. Read more at the Daily Signal

The ever gently discerning Mrs Sharon Lareau has completed her second part of reviewing Beth Moore's Audacious simulcast, here.

One side note. In the satanic effort to get feminism into the faith and into women's hearts, I keep reading about having audacious faith, praying audacious prayers, of discipling an entire generation, of stepping into leadership roles, of being a brave girl.

Yet I am living a little life in an out of the way place and the only thing I'm stepping on is a juicebox or cheerios at snack time in kindergarten. I am not brave or audacious or leading. I don't have "crazy strong risky dreamer kids" and I am not running a multi-million dollar corporation ministry or globetrotting to empower local women. I don't really rather be doing this in my living room over coffee with you. No. Please don't come over for coffee. If you do, my table won't be artfully arranged with perfect flowers and I won't be artfully arranged with a Bohemian scarf draped over my shoulders and I really do not believe laundry is a holy experience.

Brave, audacious, leaders, empowered... Whatever happened to submissive, meek, quiet, and sober? Out of fashion I guess. I am simply a para-professional working in a public school who grocery shops at a local Mom & Pop store and goes home and reads the Bible and repents and asks Jesus to help me be a better witness for His name tomorrow than I was today. The Christian life is wondrous and hard. It's at home and at work, not necessarily at a huge conference I've founded or in Africa where I go when I leave my two toddlers behind to do some more important work or discipling an entire generation (an entire generation? and anyway, doesn't the Bible already tell us to disciple generationally? Duh). These younger women really have to get a grip on themselves by getting over themselves.

Next, a lot of great photos of satisfying perfection at work. For the OCD in you or the person who just exults in symmetry and order, here you go. You're welcome.




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Photojournalism and an undignified Beth Moore

I was formerly a news journalist, working at my own weekly I'd started and also worked as a features writer and photographer for the Athens daily. I was big on journalism ethics. One of the things I'd seen happen increasingly over the years is that when a reporter, photojournalist, or editor didn't like the person being reported on, they would deliberately use disparaging adjectives, or if in a photo, select a photo that showed the person on a bad light or with a goofy expression, or in some other way, undignified.

What I understood as proper photo-journalism ethics is reflected in this excerpted photo ethics statement from the National Press Photographer's Association-
  • Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
  • Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one's own biases in the work.
  • Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. ...
  • Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. ...
I personally believe that journalism and photography ethics should be applied to bloggers, including lay-bloggers with no journalism associations. And ethics is always the watchword for Christians. (Psalm 25:21).

When a newspaper publishes letters to the editor which are opinions from readers, they don't publish all of them. A large city newspaper might receive hundreds of letters to the editor or emails opining on a recent report. Did you ever wonder how they decide to publish this one and not that one? They take the preponderance of opinion and publish a representational number. If there's an election coming and 100 people write in that John Q. Politician is good, and 30 people write that John Q. Politician is bad, they might publish 3 of the good and one of the bad. It's representative of the situation. That's what newspapers do, reflect the general situation.

What I try to do when representing a person I'm blogging about in photography is find a provided head shot the subject has proffered, or some other representationally accurate photo. By that I mean it is a photo showing the person of his correct age and represents the usual stance or expression of the person. In other words, paparazzi try to find the ONE photo of a celebrity where they are in dishabille, or wearing casual clothes that make them look worse than they usually do. How does the person usually look? If you are blogging about a person regarding their work, then show them in work clothes. If you are blogging about a stay-at-home mom, then casual clothes and home setting is appropriate. Et cetera and so forth.

Representationally accurate....and now we get to Beth Moore.

Five years ago I wrote my first blog critical of Beth Moore and her teaching. As a brief rabbit trail I'll say that back then it was one of the earliest essays anywhere on the internet critical of Beth Moore. Her teaching was bad but more subtly bad back then, and I remember having an excessively difficult time finding other essays, especially written by men, that confirmed what I saw and understood to be negative about her teaching. Five years later we all see the devastatingly satanic decline in her teaching. In this essay I'll double down on one of the most troubling things that has declined, her teaching style.

Five years ago I'd written in part 2 of the series, "Troubled By Beth Moore's Teaching" that I was troubled by her lack of dignity in teaching. Of all the things I'd written negatively about, her legalism, twisting scriptures, lack of transparency etc, my critical words about her teaching style drew the most heat from Moore supporters. I was excoriated for even daring to say it. Many women who wrote to me said it was unfair and improper even to rate her on style.

No, I'd pushed back, the Bible has much to say about a woman's dignity in public. Comportment is addressed for each gender and at every age, and is especially important for leaders and teachers. This issue is specifically addressed in multiple verses.

Instructions specifically to be dignified:
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, (Titus 2:7)

The Greek word for dignity in the Titus 2 verse means:
"solemnly respectable." reflects what has been transformed by God and exhibits "moral and spiritual gravity (gravitas)" – like what attends a deep, godly character.
Instructions for Ministers:
"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;" (1 Timothy 3:2-3)

Instructions for wives of ministers:
"Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things." (1 Timothy 3:11)

Instructions for aged men:
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." (Titus 2:11-12)

Instructions for aged women:
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." (Titus 2:3-5)

Do you get the idea that the church leaders, teachers, and elders should be dignified? I hope so. These and other scriptures are clear on the subject. Anyone who has seen a Beth Moore clip knows that her self-control and circumspectness is less than optimal. Her bio says she 'teaches with energy and passion.' She even calls herself obnoxious. I call it undignified. And undignified teaching is a poor witness.

Lately I've been seeing photos of Mrs Moore in strange and wild positions, gesticulating madly like she's beating wasps. She stands in a hula hoop. She zanily sweeps the stage. She has participants come on stage and hold placards. She cuts up. She's undignified.

But these photos, are they doing a Christian disservice to Moore? Let's take a look at a few.

I decided to scan through a number of recent Moore clips. I chose different venues. I looked at Moore on a large-venue stage, intimate setting, and being interviewed. I looked at 11 or 12 of them, and noticed the same thing in each. The preponderance of her teaching style now is zany and undignified. And worse, remember that Mrs Moore is a 58-year-old grandmother. We cannot attribute her teaching style to over-exuberant youth. She should be applying Titus 2 verses to her life and her teaching behavior so as to demonstrate it to the generation coming up. Sadly, Mrs Moore completely fails in this regard.









To be fair and ethical, I looked at an equal number of clips from Kay Arthur, whom I consider to be a dignified female Christian teacher. I looked at an equal number of settings Mrs Arthur was teaching in as well- the interview, an intimate setting, a large-venue. In none of them did I find Mrs Arthur zanily sweeping the stage, standing in a hula hoop, or otherwise using inappropriate props for a Bible lesson or a Christian speech. In none of them did I see her facial expression veer to the clownish and comical, and in none of them did I see wild gesticulations like beating wasps or arms flailing as when walking into a spider web.

I also looked at Martha Peace giving a The Master's College lecture on the subject of women discipling women, a Susan Heck lesson, and Elyse Fitzpatrick giving a speech. Ditto. No zaniness in sight and all those aforementioned women were dignified, comporting themselves as the Bible says an elder female teacher should.

Are there times when Beth Moore is standing behind a podium speaking in a dignified manner? Of course. Her undignified approach to teaching is not 100% saturated with zaniness every minute. I am speaking of the preponderance of time, and I am speaking of frequently, and I am speaking of representationally. Remember, in 1997 in an interview with Baptist Press, Moore herself said she is obnoxious. She has not calmed down since then, and is in fact, worse.

Now when I see a crazy photo or screen shot of Beth Moore, I have determined for myself that it's representative of her usual teaching style. In my little exercise comparing Moore with Arthur, Peace, Fitzpatrick and Heck, it was startling to see Moore's antics compared to the other teachers. Dignity. Sisters, dignity is a highlight of any Christian woman. No, I'm not saying that we can't laugh or joke or have a good time. I'm not saying never to use props, but I am emphatically against them most of the time. The Bible is the only visual we need.

Christian women and especially teachers should be mindful of the grace that was bestowed on us and comport ourselves with dignity. A dignified posture is to be sought at all times, but especially when we are teaching about the Lord, who is the expression of dignity itself.




Kay Cude Art: Light of the World



Poetry by Kay Cude. Used with permission

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I AM vs. I will

Jesus said I AM seven times. Satan said "I will" five times. There is a big difference between I AM and I will.

Jesus said,
  • “I am the bread of life. (John 6:35).
  • “I am the light of the world. (John 8:12).
  • “I am the door. (John 10:9).
  • “I am the good shepherd. (John 11:25).
  • “I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6).
  • “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1).
In Isaiah 14:14-15 it is said of satan,

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart,
  • I will ascend into heaven, 
  • I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: 
  • I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
  • I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; 
  • I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:14-15)

Jesus declared himself I AM out loud, before many, Satan wished, quietly in his heart. Jesus declares the reality, Satan declares his individual desire. Jesus is eternally I AM, satan was created and began to generate ambition later.

Jesus was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 1:8) and what He purposes will come to pass (Isaiah 46:10. Satan WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER HAVE ANY OF HIS WISHES, HOPES, AMBITIONS, GOALS, OR PURPOSES ULTIMATELY COME TO PASS. (Revelation 20:10).

Jesus did it all, He paid it all, it is finished.

Friends, remember, satan is a defeated foe. He is active, but moot. He is around, but vanquished. Those of us in Christ are victorious through Christ's eternal act of submission, crucifixion, and resurrection, His love, and His will.

Satan says he will, but GOD DID.




Monday, February 8, 2016

New liberal buzzword: "faith streams"

The definition of jargon is Jargon is
"a literary term that is defined as a use of specific phrases and words by writers in a particular situation, profession or trade. These specialized terms are used to convey hidden meanings accepted and understood in that field. Jargon examples are found in literary and non-literary pieces of writing."
It's not only a literary device, but certain buzzwords can exist in any organization, including Christianity. When you hear or read new ones, discernment picks up. The words release, favor, manifest, anointing, seed are markers of a prosperity speech. Gnosticism is rife with references to secret, knowledge, levels, ascend, divine, lost books, etc. An emergent church will speak of vision casting, contextualize, becoming, having a conversation, missional, narrative, story...

I've been seeing and reading people use the word streams or faith streams lately. As in, "People from different faith streams came together at the football field for prayer." Or, "People from different faith streams are welcome to attend our church." I've seen it used on various liberal websites and recently I heard Beth Moore use the term. I decided to look into it.

Streams or faith streams comes from Richard Foster’s book Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith. Richard Foster is known in Mystical/Emergent circles as an expert on spiritual formation. He has been deeply influenced by Mother Teresa and other Catholic mystical contemplatives, and in turn has influenced many others such as Watchman Nee and Henri Nouwen. Streams of Living Water is synopsized here in this Resource Guide,
Foster begins Streams of Living Water with the assertion that Jesus is the source of each of the great traditions of Christian spirituality—Contemplative (the prayer-filled life), Holiness (the virtuous life), Charismatic (the Spirit-empowered life), Social Justice (the compassionate life), Evangelical (the Word-centered life) and Incarnational (the sacramental life). Once Foster persuades us that each tradition has its source in the life of Jesus, he devotes a chapter to each of the six traditions.
Incarnational really means Roman Catholic. Immediately we understand there is a problem, if the author of Streams is saying that Jesus is the source of Roman Catholicism. He is not, Satan is the source of Roman Catholicism. The Resource Guide continues,
The church is the Body of Christ. Not surprisingly, its history has been washed by movements that have become great traditions. And each of these traditions finds its origin in the life of Jesus. The life of Christ is our template for living a life of prayer, purity, power, passion, proclamation, and presence. Jesus is our model for balanced and holistic living. An overemphasis on doctrine and division has resulted in the visible church bearing more resemblance to a shattered vase than the pulsating body of Christ. It’s time to put the pieces of the chalice back together.
Streams means that those who believe the liberal/Richard Foster doctrines, one will claim brotherhood in Christ with the following versions of Christianity, only one of which is truly and thoroughly valid. Below we have not a summary as we did above, but a table from the "Evangelical Liberal's" blog, illustrating Foster's version of faith streams, or traditions.



Words matter. Sin is not mistake. Justification, sanctification, glorification are important doctrinal words to know, understand, and use. Propitiation, redemption, adoption, are theological words with meaning, a meaning that used to be commonly understood by Christians. Redefining words or worse, co-opting words and symbols are satan's work. Gay used to mean happy. Rainbow used to mean God's covenant with man, now when it's used it means perverted love among and between homosexuals. The term contemplative prayer confused many people because we are told in the Bible to contemplate God and to pray. Therefore contemplative prayer can't be bad. Can it? Yes, it can.


Look into the origins of words. Think about what you're saying. Before you use a new word, know and understand its origins. It might be the culture's substitute for a theological word that is important to keep using. The word, like contemplative prayer, might not mean what you think it means, inconceivable as that may be. When you say faith streams, you're picking up on Richard Foster's melding of false faiths with Christianity. All streams do not lead to the ocean, just as all paths do not lead to God. Beware, think, study, and don't be quick to abandon OUR words that have been commonly understood for centuries. Our Christian vocabulary is important, protect it.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Prata's Potpourri: Taiwan quake, LifeWay jumps the shark (again), Jesus marveled at their unbelief; more

Here are a few items for you consideration.

On February 5, 2016 a deadly earthquake struck Taiwan. The 6.4 magnitude toppled many buildings and trapped hundreds of people, and killed at least 26, but that number is expected to rise as officials examine the rubble. Vast parts of the southern part of the country are without electricity and water. Al Jazeera has more.

My friend Pastor James Bell wrote,
As we pray for those who are suffering... it would be well for us to realize that in just a moment... life as we know it can suddenly change! Moreover, this would be a good time to meditate upon Luke 13:1-5. suppose that those in this city are greater sinners than we? Except we repent, we shall all likewise perish!

Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In reading Mark 6:6, I was struck by the fact that Jesus marveled at unbelief. After salvation everything seems so clear to us, and it's a marvel that people can't or won't or don't turn to Jesus who is the obvious solution for filling our spiritually deserted souls. Here is the introduction to JC Ryle's essay on unbelief being a marvel to Jesus.

Unbelief a Marvel by J. C. Ryle
(1816-1900)
 First published by Drummond's Tract Depot, Stirling, Scotland

"He marveled because of their unbelief."--Mark 6:6

The text which heads this page is a very remarkable one. Of all the expressions in the four Gospels which show that the Lord Jesus Christ was very Man, none perhaps is more startling than this. That He who was born of the Virgin Mary, and had a body like our own, should hunger and thirst, and weep and rejoice, and be weary and suffer pain,—all this we can, in some degree, understand. But that He who was very God as well as very Man, He "in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," He in whom were, "hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," He who "knew what was in man,"—that He should "marvel" at anything here below, may well fill us with astonishment. But what saith the Scripture? There it is written in plain words, which no critical ingenuity can explain away,— "He marvelled because of their unbelief."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LifeWay has jumped another shark.

B&H Publishing is an imprint publishing house from LifeWay Christian Resources. Authors Rollin G. Grams and S. Donald Fortson III have published a book through B&H titled Unchanging Witness: The Consistent Christian Teaching on Homosexuality in Scripture and Tradition, in which they look at the consistent historical Christian stance regarding homosexuality.

The authors wrote a synopsis of their book on the B&H blog, called B&H Academic, "a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, which is dedicated to providing resources for undergraduate and graduate theological education."

The authors stated that in researching texts to determine that Christianity has always condemned homosexuality, these texts included 
the Fathers, Reformers, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox churches
They came to the conclusion that,
Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere in the history of Christianity. An overview of texts [examined in the book] reveals unequivocally that the Fathers, Reformers, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox churches are unanimous in their condemnation of homoerotic behavior among those who profess Christ as Lord. 
How unfortunate that LifeWay supports authors who include Catholic and Orthodox as part of Christianity, when they are not. How much more unfortunate that this book is aimed at an audience of learners who will then become teachers of the faith.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Does your pastor seek to be popular? Or faithful?

Faithfulness Versus Popularity
Today concludes our series highlighting five compelling motivations to preach the Word. Previous posts in this series can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Motivation 5: Preach the Word
Because of the Deceptiveness of the Sensual (2 Timothy 4:3–4)Having reminded Timothy of the ultimate accountability, Paul continued by warning him that faithful preaching will not necessarily be popular preaching. As the apostle explained, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (4:3–4).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John MacArthur is going through a series at Grace To You blog examining Christian Cliches. In this one, he looks at what it really means to "Love the sinner, hate the sin". The essay helped me see things in a new light.

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin
To preach love apart from God’s holiness is to teach something other than God’s love. No awakening or revival of the church has ever occurred apart from strong preaching of God’s holiness and the corresponding call for believers to forsake sin and return to the Lord’s standards of purity and righteousness. No church that tolerates known sin in its membership will have spiritual growth or effective evangelism. In spite of that truth, however, such tolerance is standard in the church today-at all levels.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I made these yesterday. They are sooo good! Try 'em!

Baked Cheddar Broccoli Cups



Saturday, February 6, 2016

Unity, disunity, and breaking fellowship- a real life tale

 I received an email the other day. It was from a long-time reader/sometime commenter.

Hi there. Would you please be so kind and remove the comments (and my name) that I have made on your blog? I’d do it myself, but I don’t have the same email address anymore in order to do it. I also could not find your email address, hence this message in comment form.

Thanking you,
Commenter

And then he included the links to 30 comments from two years ago. BTW, my email address is in the "About this Blog" tab at the top of the page. I asked in reply, May I ask why?

I do not share in your theology at all and don't want to be associated with it (the theology) in any way whatsoever. My comments were mostly non-theological, but I want them removed nonetheless.
Greetings,
Commenter

If I am wrong, I want to know. If I need correction, I want to submit to it. I replied, "Thank you for your response. What is it about my theology that troubles you so greatly that you would go to these lengths to disassociate? Is there something unbiblical? Extrabiblical? Aberrant?" He responded:

I am 100% anti-Calvinist and don't want to be associated with it. Please remove my comments at your earliest convenience.
Regards,
Commenter

Ah. So that's it.

I replied that there was no need to go to lengths to disassociate from a theology that the Bible presents, even if one holds vehemently to Arminianism. The Bible is also clear about unity. I shared the verse from 1 Corinthians 1:10, noting it's one verse among many urging unity among the brethren. I said that it seemed an unreasonable request that would cause difficulties in the threaded comment stream, take an undue amount of my time, and that since we all make our own decisions when choosing to comment publicly in online forums, I sadly would not be able to fulfill the request. I said I was truly sorry he decided to leave on that note and urged that he was welcome to read or comment any time. His response was less than hopeful...and less than brotherly.

Elizabeth, really, I want nothing to do with Calvinism, and I am not interested in your defense of the philosophy of Calvinism, or whatever you like to term it. And I'm not interested in debating or arguing; I simply want my comments removed. You don't have to do it all at once, of course, but my request stands: remove my comments. Take your time with it; there's no rush.

The correspondence ends here.
Regards,
Commenter

Of course, bullies always change the argument to a straw man. I had not defended Calvinism but had made a biblical appeal to unity as described above.

There are all sorts of false teachers running around proclaiming the need for unity. But theirs is a false unity. Partnering with any other religion that's clearly false is not a unity. Pasting over deep doctrinal differences in order to promote a shallow harmony is not unity.

However, there's a unity that IS called for. The Bible is clear that among Christians there will be differences among us over minor or secondary doctrines, but that we are to be humble and love one another. Secondary doctrines are not salvation doctrines. Some call them "non-essential" doctrines, but I don't like that term because I don't like to think of any doctrine as being non-essential, though the meaning refers to the belief in the doctrine not being essential to one's salvation.

Essential doctrines are the ones we split over. Non-essentials are doctrines we do not split over. The website at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry gives the following advice about essential and secondary doctrines. The list from CARM.org includes an explanation, then gives examples of primary non-essentials and secondary non-essentials:
Primary Non-Essentials- (1 John 2:4). Denying these can bring one's salvation into question since the regenerate seek to live according to God's Word. Violating them does not automatically mean the person is not saved since Christians fall into various sins. However, abiding in sins with unrepentance would be evidence that the person is not regenerated. Examples: Moral integrity (Exodus 20:1-17). Fidelity in marriage in heterosexual relationships. The condemnation of homosexuality. Inerrancy of the Bible. Baptism is not necessary for salvation (Acts 10:44-48).
I might put inerrancy of the Bible as an essential salvation issue, but then again I'm not a theologian.
Secondary Non-Essentials- Any of them can be denied or affirmed, and regeneration is not in questioned. These are often Denominational Differences: 14) Predestination, election, limited atonement, and free will. 15) Communion every week, monthly, or quarterly, etc. 16) Saturday or Sunday Worship. 17) Pre-, mid-, post-trib rapture. 18) Premillennialism, Amill., Postmill., partial-preterism. 19) Continuation or cessation of the charismatic gifts. 20) Baptism for adults or infants. 21) Musical Instruments in church.
Breaking fellowship over a non-essential doctrine is a shame. Though I'm Reformed, pretribulation, literal Millennial Kingdom, soft dispensationalist, I would not break fellowship over the secondary non-essentials. I would hope that people would not break fellowship with me over those, either.

Good examples to me over the years have been John MacArthur and RC Sproul Sr.'s friendship and warm fellowship despite Sproul's no-rapture, preterism, paedo-baptism issues and MacArthur holding the opposite view. It's helpful to me to see them on a panel together, gently chiding and teasing in brotherly love but united over the essential doctrines.

As the visible church has become bloated and is falling away like a black banana peel from the fruit, those who are sound and remain in the faith by standing on the essential doctrines need to demonstrate our love to each other in the cause of Jesus more than ever. We DO need unity. We need to unite around the essentials and monitor the non-essentials and remain faithful to loving each other until or unless the non-essentials in a person or organization become too wayward to overlook.

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” (Luke 9:49)

There were false teachers in the NT and there were many false prophets in the OT. In both Testaments, these false ones claim to speak in Jesus' name but do not truly represent Him. Now of this particular man in the Luke 9:49 verse, if he had not truly been one of His faithful, God would not have given the man the ability to cast out demons, and Jesus would not have answered by saying the 12 must accept him. Don't misunderstand Luke to be a verse that urges acceptance of false teachers. We still use discernment to determine false from true representatives of Jesus. The man in Luke 9:49 was true and Jesus said that he was part of the brethren because he was not against Jesus.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures says of this verse
suggested that the Twelve were not to see themselves as God’s exclusive representatives. Rather they should have rejoiced that the power of God was being manifested on earth by others as well. If they manifested that attitude, it would show that they were truly trying to be of service to the Messiah.
And this from pastor-teacher John MacArthur,
even though we might not agree with methods, we might not agree with style, if they're for Christ, we're for them, but with the proviso that they're really for Christ because they're committed to the truth. ~John MacArthur
Be committed to the truth first, and then be committed to all those who embrace the truth. Even us poor, deluded Reformed folk.

EPrata photo


------------------------------------

How can the church achieve a true, biblical unity?