More on church lists

No, not moron church lists, thought that could make an interesting post as well.

In response to a post about 10 ways to hinder your church, a commenter made some good points about other things that should be on the list:

The list is excessively focused on doctrine and public meetings. This is only a very small part of the church; it is also ‘leader’ centric; another very small part; because, you see, without love, its just empty. How to kill a church is to not love: to have selective friendships, to play favourites, to not support the weaker or needy brother or sister, to not commit to and engage in prayer together and for those in need; to not share your lives openly, unremittingly, sacrificially and joyfully, without pretence and preening.

. . .

It seems to me that in some churches, if its not nice and neat, suitable for polite conversation, it’s avoided.

I thought the original list didn’t mention enough about doctrine.  Whole denominations are getting killed by poisonous liberal theology that denies so many essentials, such as Jesus’ deity and exclusivity, the physical resurrection, the authority of the Bible.  If you can’t get the essentials right then you have no business calling yourself a church at all.  It is false advertising of the worst kind.

That aside, the commenter was dead on about how churches can miss the point and get caught up in superficial concerns.

Even though our denomination (United Methodist) has some serious problems due to false teachers that worked their way into leadership positions, our local church is quite good.  I could give countless examples, but here are a couple.

The love and care that get poured out isn’t just for long time or even active people or even members. One visitor lost his wife while she was delivering their second child. He was showered with countless hours of help, child care, meals, etc. for many months. It was touching when he joined, especially as he felt very welcome as a minority in a largely white church.

An Indian couple, now good friends of ours, had been ignored at a different church but were immediately embraced at ours. They have a thriving home Bible study and have led many former Hindus to Christ. They are very grateful for how welcomed they felt at our church.

Side note: Being in a small group — Sunday School classes and accountability groups in particular — is crucial to really feeling engaged at church.  It is too easy to get lost, especially in large churches. 

What would you add to the list that churches need to focus on so their work for the kingdom isn’t hindered?

God’s view of marriage and parenting

The last post talked about religion in the public square.  This one is for those within the church.  Non-believers are welcome to comment, but please stay on topic.

As I addressed in Problems with pro-gay theology, there are many false teachers and/or confused people in the church who hold one or more of the following erroneous beliefs:

  • The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t.  This view claims that we can ignore the prohibitions against homosexual behavior because they were written by homophobic Jews.
  • The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong.  This view holds that people just aren’t reading the Bible properly, and that God’s Word is actually affirming of gay relationships.
  • The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically describes gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable.  This view holds that God has changed his mind on this moral issue and not only is it now acceptable, but it is sinful if you don’t affirm this behavior and same-sex relationships. 
  • But as I’ve mentioned many time, the Bible couldn’t be more clear:

    1. 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
    2. 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
    3. 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
    4. 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

    Item 1 gets talked about the most, but I encourage people to search for the passages that relate to items 2 and 3 and then honestly ask themselves if they think the Bible even hints at oxymoronic “same sex unions” as being part of God’s plan.  I was reading this passage yesterday and this idea really stood out:

    1 Corinthians 7:1-10 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband.

    There is not even a hint that God has any plan for marriage other than one man and one woman.  Really, read the whole book and see.  I find the arguments from silence (i.e., “But the Bible never specifically says “same sex marriage” or gay parenting is wrong”) to be ridiculous and a sure sign that you are talking to person who is deceived and/or a deceiver. 

    P.S. If a professing Christian wants to claim that Paul was backwards or confused, then I offer this:

    • Paul was a really cerebral guy.  Read all his letters and see.
    • You should know that the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
    • Are you claiming that Paul was wrong and you are not and that I should trust your revelation over his?  I’m skeptical of that.

    Confronting fake concerns about religion in the public square

    Friendly reminder: Many people advancing liberal arguments will try to dismiss the views of religious people just because they are religious people.  Too often people let them get away with that truly bigoted, prejudiced anti-religious argument.

    These responses specifically address the marriage debate, though they also work when they try to dismiss your pro-life or other views that align with your religious convictions.  Feel free to use them as responses when people try to shut you up just because you trust in Jesus.

    Here’s why I am free to support real marriage in the public square:

    1. That First Amendment thingy.  We’re allowed to let our religious views inform our political views whether you like it or not. It doesn’t inhibit religious freedoms, it protects them.

    2. My religion tells me that stealing, perjury, gay bashing and murder are also wrong.  Do you object to me letting those views inform my political views, or just the views you don’t like?

    3. Lots of churches are thoroughly pro-gay, such as the UCC and the Episcopals.  I don’t recall you objecting to their advancement of the pro-gay cause.  If you were being consistent and if you really opposed any religious beliefs in the public square, shouldn’t you be objecting to their views just as strenuously?  Why do you just use that argument against views you disagree with?

    4. You are begging the question by assuming what you should be proving.  You claim that we are denying “rights” to gays but you must change the definition of the word in question to draw that conclusion.  But the whole debate is whether to change the word and give them a new right.  You cheat and pretend that we’ve already changed the word and given them the right and then insist that we’re denying this existing right.  Sadly, pro-gay apologists commit this fallacy so reflexively that I doubt you realize what you are doing.

    Ironically, the “rights” talked is best founded by a Christian worldview.  The Declaration of Independence notes this:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    But most of the world – religious or not – doesn’t regard those truths to be self-evident at all.  They make sense in our culture because we are still running on the fumes of Christianity. 

    5. Finally, and most importantly, I didn’t bring up religion.  You did.  I can argue this topic without it — though of course, if you want to know Jesus’ views on it I’ll be glad to share the biblical view with you.

    10 ways to hinder your church

    Pastor Timothy showed a good video about how we can fall into behaviors that hinder the church.  Any relation to your behavior or mine is purely convicting.  #3 is my biggest problem.  Et toi?

    In case you don’t have time to watch it, here’s my summary:

    1. It is all about you and what you get out of church.  The purpose of the church is to serve you.
    2. Only go when it is convenient. 
    3. It is the responsibility of the church to get your heart ready for worship.
    4. You know more than the leaders in your church, but don’t use the knowledge to teach others.  The knowledge you have is to criticize, not advance the Gospel.
    5. Criticize any potential theological errors of your pastor publicly, not privately.
    6. Make sure you get credit for what you do.  Otherwise, don’t help.
    7. Never let doctrine divide.  Don’t study it yourself.
    8. Church hopping is always an option.  Don’t persevere through rough times.
    9. If you are convicted of sin then accuse the church of being legalistic.
    10. Always demand an emotional experience, as that is a true test of the effectiveness of a church.

    Roundup

    Must see: Cambridge cop says she won’t vote for Obama again after Gatesgate

    If you’re looking for postracial America, you’ve found it.

    Also, has anyone else heard much about Gates’ upcoming PBS special about race in America?  I’m not much for conspiracy theories, but does anyone else wonder if he might have provoked this a bit or milked it for see free publicity?

    Make sure your kids aren’t by your PC when you click on this ==> No Nudity Crackdown in San Francisco – Police Again Allow Rampant Public Nudity, Sex Acts at Deviant ‘Up Your Alley’ Street Fair — That is, of course, unless you are one of the commenters defending the attendance of children at those swell gay pride events.  After all, you know the truth that people who object to things shown in the link are just bigoted homophobes who don’t realize how healthy it is for children to see such things.

    Good quote on the global climate change stuff:

    Sharp Americans are starting to understand H.L. Mencken’s observation that “The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.”

    Roundup

    Virginity in the NBA: Mission Possible — Great article about A.C. Green (former Laker)

     NY nurse forced to assist in late-term abortion, career threatened — that’s courtesy of the pro-abortion crowd, thank you (yes, that’s pro-abortion, not pro-choice)

    A history of who thought the world was flat and when they thought it — Guess what?  It wasn’t the Christians or even the West in general.  But I wonder why this myth persists?  Uh, actually, I don’t wonder.  It is one of those myths that helps advance a particular worldview.  (Hat tip: Duane’s Mind)

    The 6 Worst Abortion Arguments Jon Stewart made to Mike Huckabee– I appreciate Huckabee’s pro-life views.

    YouTube aborts pro-life videos

    YouTube allows almost any surgery video imaginable, like gastric bypass, gallbladder removal, toe amputation, appendectomy and brain tumor removal, and gross-out body parts videos like a buttock fecal fistula or peritoneal cancer – but not abortion.

    Neither does YouTube have a problem with videos pertaining to the female anatomy like mastectomies, breast augmentations, hysterectomies or even baby deliveries – but not abortion, unless it is in the form of bloodless illustrations.

    YouTube also seems to go out of its way to protect the abortion industry, particularly Planned Parenthood

    When a nation turns its back on God–Romans 1:18-32 — terrific sermon by Four* Pointer.  Check it out.

    Roundup

    Does Mormonism teach that Adam was God (or a God)? Yes, and here is some of the evidence.  Don’t let them tell you otherwise.

    What really caused Michael Jackson to die? (Ray Comfort) — Good video at Christocentric

    North Korea executes (more) Christians 

    Human rights groups in South Korea say North Korea has stepped up executions of Christians, some of them in public.

    The communist country, the world’s most closed society, views religion as a major threat….

    …[J]ust owning a Bible in North Korea may be a cause for torture and disappearance.

    From Stand to Resaon:

    A new scanning technique  allows life-size models to be made of unborn babies allowing the mothers to see their child in a realistic way.

    Very cool.  These make a huge difference to abortion vulnerable women.  I’m on the board of a CareNet Pregnancy Center and just this week was reminded of the importance of ultrasounds as well.

    One of the volunteers described a woman who just visited the center with her newborn son.  She originally had an abortion scheduled but came to CareNet the day before that and got an ultrasound.  The technician couldn’t find the baby at first but gave it one last try and showed him to the mother.  Her reply was a common one: “I realized I couldn’t kill my baby.”

    Ultrasounds save lives.

    A challenge for ID bashers

    Read Stephen C. Meyer’s new book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne). He lays out a massive evidentiary case. As a philosopher of science, he also explains what science is. If you really want to tell me there’s no positive scientific evidence that biological information coded in DNA reflects purposeful design, then go ahead and read Meyer’s book and report back to me your reasoned response.

    Feel free to leave your comments there, not here.

    Someone had to say it: OK, Enough! Cronkite Was NOT That Great .  Side note: I thought he was already dead, so it would have been more newsworthy to me if they had announced the previous day that he was still alive.