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Shall the Fundamentalists Win?

This famous sermon, preached by Harry Emerson Fosdick, is a good look at the argumentation that won the day for the modernists in the “Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy.” Even today it is relevant, as these arguments are used in mainline churches, emergent churches, and by those in Evangelical churches who want more Ecumenism.

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Posted by on December 11, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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What is a Mainline Church?

This video is part of the preparations for a class I will be teaching at Master’s Baptist College in Spring 2019 on Christian Denominations. There are several cross-denominational categorizations of churches: Mainline, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, etc. This video describes what Mainline churches are like today.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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What is a Mainline Church?

There are several cross-denominational categorizations of churches: Mainline, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, etc. This video describes what Mainline churches are like today.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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What is an Evangelical Church?

This video is part of the preparations for a class I will be teaching at Master’s Baptist College in Spring 2019 on Christian Denominations. What does Evangelical mean? Definitions are constantly shifting. This video attempts to answer that question.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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Is the lottery immoral? What about the stock market?

This is a cross-post from my post on the Ready to Harvest blog.

The news is out that someone has won the multi-billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot. Several others have won one or three million dollars as second place winners. Everyone has had dreams of what they would do if they suddenly were very rich- helping others, getting a nice house or vehicle, moving or enjoying vacations. It is fun to purchase a lottery ticket and –despite the odds- thinking that perhaps that winner could be you.

So what are the reasons given why a person shouldn’t be giving their money into the lottery system? Is there anything immoral about it? Why is gambling one of those things on the list that Baptist preachers have always spoken against? Let’s cover a few reasons.

  1. Many people don’t play to lose

Perhaps if you are in the middle class, and you go to purchase a lottery ticket, you are playing to lose. You realize that you will lose, but it’s fun to keep the dream of winning alive. You have some spare dollars, and you throw them in. It’s no surprise when the numbers don’t line up with your picks. No harm, no foul right? But the truth is, no matter how badly the odds are stacked against the lottery player, there are thousands upon thousands of players who are not playing to lose. They are putting in money they can’t afford to lose, because they want to get it back. They aren’t voluntarily giving it to the winner. The system exploits their weaknesses. You might say “but they do have a choice! They didn’t have to buy the ticket!” to that, I answer:

  1. The lottery preys on the addicted

Maybe you have bought a ticket only once every couple of years when the jackpot gets really high. But there are plenty of people who are caught in the lottery trap. They have already put tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars into the lottery, and they feel their only hope to win it back is to keep playing. You may say these people could quit any time, but to them, their only hope for not being foreclosed upon, the only hope for their family eating is if they buy a ticket and win big. You may say that their foolishness and addiction is not your fault – which is true. But if you win anything from the lottery, their money is in your hand. You are now responsible. You have stolen from them what they wanted to use to feed their children. They didn’t want to give it away. A lottery winner has taken -legally- what doesn’t belong to them morally.

  1. The lottery is a wasteful zero-sum game

The lottery system is in general, a transfer of wealth from the poor to the government, and some going back to the poor. Most of the money that goes into the lottery goes into the hands of the government. Some directly, and a large amount through taxing the winners’ winnings. Additionally, the lottery employs people to make the tickets, perform the drawings, etc. Millions of hours are spent shipping and selling the tickets. In the end, all that has happened is money has been thrown away with this administration, a bunch has gone to the government, and some has gone back to the “winners.” It is a zero-sum game. No wealth is generated. The only money that exists is that put into the pot by those buying tickets. It doesn’t produce anything, it lowers the standard of living for all involved but a very, very few. So not only is the lottery a form of legal theft and exploitation of the poor, but it is wasteful with the money that was taken through coercion.

  1. The lottery encourages covetousness

There’s nothing wrong with wanting something that you don’t have. Driving through a lot full of vehicles for sale and hoping to earn enough to buy one is not immoral. Wanting to get the newest phone is not immoral. Covetousness is wanting something that is not yours because it belongs to someone else –  it is not for sale. A biblical example is the wife of your neighbor. There’s no legitimate way to get your neighbor’s wife, so a desire to have her is immoral.

The lottery is a deception. It promotes a desire for wealth in the individual to trick him into putting up some of his own money to gain back the large sum. Therefore, the money one is craving when they think about winning the lottery is indeed money they could possibly get legally, but not morally. The money they want is the money that belonged to the poor neighbor who was tricked and coerced into giving it up. He would not have willingly handed you that money. He only handed it in in expectation of more being handed him. Because of this, everyone who plays the lottery is coveting and desiring to get what doesn’t belong to them. It also doesn’t belong to the government. It rightfully belongs back in the hand of the person who lost it.

 

Now, with this in mind about the lottery, let’s ask about the stock market. Is the stock market the same as the lottery? Is it gambling?

First, let’s understand the stock market, and what it is. Imagine that your friend opens a business and asks if you would be willing to put in $10,000 to help start the business, and you can have 50% of the company. Perhaps the company will do well and you, getting a cut of the business’s profits, will make many times over what you put in. Or perhaps, the next year the company will do poorly, become insolvent, and you will lose your entire investment. Is this gambling? It clearly isn’t. If you “win” in this situation, it is not because you took something that didn’t legitimately belong to you, it is because people willingly did business with your company, and as a result, both you and they were made better off. If the company does poorly, it is not because someone has taken illegitimately what belonged to you, but because of your inability or the company’s to run the business in a profitable way. You took on a risk, just as a farmer takes a risk planting seeds when the seed could be washed away or eaten by the birds, or his plants could die from disease or drought. So the small-business investment is not gambling.

The stock market is the same as the small-business investment. But it is actually a very, very small ownership percentage in a large business. Or perhaps an investment spread out in percentages of many businesses. So when you make money in the stock market, again, it is not at anyone’s loss, but because the company did well – it served its customers. When you lose, nobody has taken from you, but the company or companies you have invested in have receded in profitability for the time being.

Notably, this is not a zero-sum game. Everyone can see gains together or see losses together. A stock market investment doing well is not contingent on your neighbor’s failure.

A small percentage of stock market activity is “short selling” which is effectively betting against success. I won’t discuss it in this article, as it isn’t part of most investor’s activity. And obviously a person can do other immoral activity in the stock market, like insider trading, or investing in immoral companies. However, as a basic principle, it is not immoral, nor is it gambling, to invest in the stock market.

Let’s quickly look at the reasons given for why the lottery is immoral and see the difference compared to the stick market.

  1. In the lottery, #1 was “Many people don’t play to lose.” This meant that people who nearly inevitably would lose their entire investment were only investing because they thought they would gain. To some extent the same is true in the stock market. However, the difference has multiple parts: In general, losses are temporary. The person who invests wisely and waits will see things turn around. The lottery player ends up owning nothing, but the investor owns a percentage of a company. Though the value fluctuates, they still own that percentage. Nothing has been taken from them even if the value goes down. In the lottery, the whole system is built on people losing. This is what makes gain possible. In the stock market, everyone is in the same boat within a company’s stock. All are working together and working for company gain. Good decisions and management will lead to the company increasing in value, and the reverse leads to a decrease. A gain is a positive gain for all at nobody’s expense.
  2. #2 was “The lottery preys on the addicted” Notably, lotteries are real entities. These are organizations built to exploit. The companies people invest in are not concerned to exploit anyone. A person who puts money in is an investor, and the company will seek to do well and reward its investor. No shiny signs are placed in poor neighborhoods or in gas stations, nothing is done to try and force a person to be an investor. Those who are poor are found to not be investing in the stock market, but typically throwing their money away into the lottery. (This can often be why they are poor)
  3. #3 was “The lottery is a wasteful zero-sum game.” In contrast, gains and losses in the stock market are taken together. Money is used to grow the company. Stocks grow, not because of the loss of a person, but because of free trade and willing buyers consuming what the company produces.
  4. #4 was “the lottery encourages covetousness.” In contrast, desire for one’s stocks to do well is not covetousness. It is not desiring something that doesn’t belong to you. It is simply desiring for one’s own interest in companies to do well. This desire is a desire that all would benefit. It is a right desire. This desire does not come with a commensurate desire that others do poorly.

In conclusion, the preacher was right all along – the lottery is immoral. Let’s not encourage the use of it. Remember, legality doesn’t imply morality. Be a wise steward and have your motives and desires in the right place.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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Is having at least two children a qualification of a pastor or deacon?

This is a cross-post from my theology blog Ready to Harvest

There are some who claim that to be a pastor, a person must have at least two children. They object to a pastor who has no children or only one. These people get their justification for this claim from 1 Timothy 3, which reads:

1Tim 3:1-7  This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  (2)  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  (3)  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  (4)  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;  (5)  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)  (6)  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  (7)  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Verse 12 states

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

Specifically, the person who thinks that a pastor should have more than one child (referred to going forward as the objector), will refer to verse four and twelve, and say that since we are in a passage about qualifications, and the bishop (pastor) and deacon is referred to as having children, then anyone without children (plural) is not qualified to be a bishop or deacon.

Let’s consider the reasons why the scripture does not actually prohibit a man without children being a pastor.

  1. The mention of “children” is not listed as a qualification to have children

What are the requirements given for? They are given to prevent an unqualified or disqualified man from taking the office. In the chart below, consider each of the qualifications and the opposite, disqualifying position:

With this in mind, it is apparent that the command to have “his children in subjection with all gravity” is present to prevent the opposite – a man who has children that are not in subjection. The passage doesn’t address the case of a man without children, but only that children which he does have must be in subjection.

2. Making every mention of children become a qualifier to the position leads to strange inconsistencies in scripture

If we do take the position that a reference to a person having children means that the person must have children, we end up with this strange case. Consider the requirements listed in Luke 14:26 to be a disciple:

Luke 14:26  If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Following the same pattern as the objectors do in 1 Timothy, a person cannot be a disciple unless they have a wife (no woman disciples), have children (no single or one-child disciples), have brethren and sisters (no disciples who have only sisters or only brothers, and no only-child disciples). But this is contradictory, because Acts tells us that Tabitha (A woman) was a disciple, and we are quite certain she didn’t have a wife.

Let’s take another example. Titus 2:4 tells us about the older women teaching the young women:

Tit 2:4  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

Does this passage mean one cannot be a young woman unless they have children? Or at least they cannot be a teachable young woman? No, it obviously is speaking of them to be taught to love husband or child even if they aren’t yet married – e.g. in the future. The same could be said for the Bishop and deacon requirement. If they don’t have children, then they certainly don’t have children which are not in subjection. Later when they do have children, then we can see if they become unqualified.

Objection: The requirement is there because for a person to be qualified to pastor or be a deacon, they need to demonstrate that they can raise children properly, which cannot be known if the person has no children.

Answer: However, as we have seen, there is no such requirement. The reason a person may think a requirement could be there does not make such a requirement exist. If there is such a requirement for pastor, then there is an inconsistency in the requirement for a disciple, as seen above, and because there are no errors in scripture, there is no such requirement of multiple children for a pastor.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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Is the Bible God? Examining Jesus’ title “the Word of God”

What does the scripture mean when it refers to Jesus as “The Word” or “The Word of God”? There are some that take this to mean that the Bible is Jesus, and Jesus is the Bible, that is, that the 66 books of scripture are literally the third person of the trinity. Do the scripture passages support this conclusion?

Let’s start with a cursory look at the five places where the King James Bible refers to the “Word of God” with a capital “W.” The first is John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Who or what is the scripture referring to as “the Word?” this becomes clear later on in the chapter, in verse 14:”And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

So it is obvious that this passage is telling us who “the Word” is. The Word is Jesus. It does not state anywhere that the person referred to here as “the Word” is also the Bible. Some might say that it refers to the Bible simply because the Bible is also called “the word” (lowercase) throughout the scripture. But this does not follow. Multiple different things or people can have the same title and still be distinct. Ezekiel can be the “son of man” and Jesus Christ can be the “son of man”, but Jesus is not Ezekiel. God the Father, is of course the Father, and Christ is also given the title of Father in Isaiah 9:6, and Abraham in Luke 16:30, but these are all distinct persons. So the question remains, is the title “Word of God” ( capitalized) ever referring to the Bible itself, and if so is it making it equivalent to Jesus?

Note that all the references to the “Word of God” are in books written by the Apostle John, first in the gospel, then in 1 John, and finally in Revelation. The next verse is 1 John 1:1: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” All of these descriptions speak about Jesus Christ, not the Bible. Later in 1 John 5:7 it says “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” This passage is a clear reference to the trinity, with the Word once again referring to Jesus. This is made even more clear when the previous verse is read with it. Finally we see Revelation 19:13, which says: “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” Verse 16 clarifies more who this rider is: “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Who is the King of Kings? Earlier in revelation we read this: “(Rev 17:14)  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” The Lamb is, of course, Christ. (This is universally accepted, one such demonstration of this is that the lamb has twelve apostles in 21:14)

What is meant by Christ being “the Word of God?” It means that Christ is God’s sent message – the physical embodiment of what God wanted to convey. Christ’s title of “Word” means that he is more than just a messenger telling us truth from God, but that he is also the message of God’s truth itself.

Thre is certainly a value in understanding the close and intentional connection of Christ’s title “the Word” and the Bible being called “the word”. The scripture is God’s written word to humanity, and Christ is the living Word. Both are the message of the Father. But they are not the same.

Making Christ and the Bible to be the same thing leads to some strange conclusions. Primarily, it can lead to a belief that John 1:1 is telling us that God’s written word became flesh, and that prior to that there was no separate person of the trinity that was God the son. Many who attack the eternal sonship of Christ do so on the basis of interpreting John 1:1 in this way and conflating Jesus with the spoken or written word of God. In addition, there are an innumerable amount of strange conclusions that can be drawn by forcing Jesus into the meaning of places that refer to the “word of God” or “word of the Lord.

Can Christ be corrupted? (2Co 2:17)  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Is Jesus the Sword of the Spirit? (Eph 6:17)  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

The sad part about this doctrine (like many) is that it is radically defended and used as a means of attacking, when it comes from nothing more than poor exegesis and a failure to look at context. The result can be dangerous – worshipping God’s written word like it is God himself. God’s word is important – he has magnified it above his name (Psalm 138:2) but his word is what he has said to us – the unlimited God cannot be even limited to the revelation we have of him in scripture – If we tried to write down all there was to say about the works of Jesus, John said it best, “I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”

This is a cross-post form my ministry blog “Ready to Harvest”

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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