The Forgotten Spurgeon

I’ve been reading the book, “The Forgotten Spurgeon” by Iain Murray. It has been really interesting to read about Spurgeon’s life. Here is a quote from Spurgeon about the perpetuity of the Church that I really enjoyed.

“Reflect first that a Church exists. What a wonder this is! It is perhaps the greatest miracle of all ages that God has a Church in the world…Always a Church! When the full force of the Pagan Emperors came like a thundering avalanche upon her, she shook off the stupendous load as a man shaketh the flakes of snow from his garment, and she lived on uninjured. When papal Rome vented its malice yet more furiously and ingenuously; when cruel murderers hunted the saints among the Alps, or worried them in the low country; when Albigenses and Waldenses poured out their blood in rivers, and dyed the snow with crimson, she lived still, and never was in a healthier state than when she was immersed in her own gore. When after a partial reformation in this country, the pretenders to religion determined that the truly spiritual should be harried out of the land, God’s Church did not sleep or suspend her career of life or service. Let the covenant signed in blood witness to the vigor of the persecuted saints. Hearken to her psalm amidst the brown heath-clad hills of Scotland, and her prayer in the secret conventicles of England. Hear ye the voice of Cargil and Cameron thundering among the mountains against a false king and an apostate people; hear ye the testimony of Bunyan and his compeers who would sooner rot in dungeons than bow the knee to Baal. Ask me “Where is the Church?” and I can find her at any and every period from the day when first in the upper room the Holy Ghost came down even until now. In one unbroken line our apostolic succession runs; not through the church of Rome; not from the superstitious hands of priest-made popes, or king-created bishops (what a varnished lie is the apostolic succession of those who boast so proudly of it!), but through the blood of good men and true, who never forsook the testimony of Jesus; through the loins of true pastors, laborious evangelists, faithful martyrs, and honorable men of God, we trace our pedigree up to the fishermen of Galilee and glory that we perpetuate by God’s grace that true and faithful Church of the living God, in whom Christ did abide and will abide until the world’s crash.

The chief wonder is that she abides perfect. Not one of God’s elect has gone back; not one of the blood-bought has denied the faith. Not one single soul which ever was effectually called can be made to deny Christ, even though his flesh should be pulled from his bones by hot pincers, or his tormented body flung to the jaws of wild beasts. All that the enemy has done has been of no avail against the Church. The old rock has been washed, and washed, and washed again by stormy waves, and submerged a thousand times in the floods of tempest but even her angles and corners abide unaltered and unalterable. We may say of the Lord’s tabernacle, not one of the stakes thereof has been removed, nor one of her cords been broken. The house of the Lord from foundation to pinnacle is perfect still: “The rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house and it fell not”; nay, nor a single stone of it, “for it was founded upon a rock”. – Charles Spurgeon

The Faithful Witness – The Life Of William Carey

The Faithful Witness is a book about the life and mission of William Carey, written by Timothy George in 1991. Seven years later, in 1998, a special movie edition was printed as a companion to the dramatic film, Candle in the Dark. This special edition was published by the Christian History Institute in association with Samford University and its Beeson Divinity School.

The purpose of this book is to both honor the life of William Carey and to encourage Christians to have the same vision and passion as he did for proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ to the people who are lost in our world. William Carey is known universally today as the father of modern missions. He is said to have begun the Protestant missionary movement with his 40-year ministry in India, making his life a leading example for the modern day missionary. Timothy George’s central argument in this book is simply that William Carey’s life is such a powerful testimony to the life of a Christian called by God to take the gospel to the lost and therefore Christians should know the story of Carey’s life, that we might gain his vision and passion for reaching the world with the message of Christ. The content of the book is a comprehensive study of William Carey’s life covering his time as a young man growing up, his family, his struggles, his calling, his missionary journey, and many of the of things he accomplished as a missionary to India. The proof of William Carey’s fervor for reaching the heathen is found in the story of his life. It is in the story of his life that we find amazing faith and witness the Godly character of a man who faithfully set out to do the work of the savior, no matter what the cost. He remained loyal to God and to his mission, even when the cost was too high, and it was through this loyalty and faithfulness to God and this unfailing passion for the lost that God used Carey’s life to accomplish many great things and to encourage the lives of other missionaries. To understand the purpose of this book we must understand the life of William Carey. In view of this I have provided a very short summary of William Carey’s life as written in Timothy George’s book, Faithful Witness. This summery does not come close to telling the story of his life. If you want to know more, read the book.

William Carey was the son of a weaver, and was himself a village shoemaker till he was twenty-eight years old. He was born on the 17th of August in 1861, in the midland region of England. He was the oldest of the five children born to Edmund and Elisabeth Carey. Although Carey had been baptized and brought up in the Church of England as a young teenager he was addicted to swearing, lying, and unchaste conversation, and for many years he gave little attention to his eternal destiny. After an incident with counterfeit money and his theft being known to the whole village, Carey realized that nothing but an entire change of heart could remove his guilt and bring him peace with God. Soon after, and through many struggles, Carey was brought to depend on Christ for pardon and salvation and began to press these claims of Christ upon others. To Carey, evangelism was not optional; it was the motivational force of every soul delivered out of darkness into grace. Also after further study, Carey became convinced of the necessity of believer’s baptism by immersion, and acting on this new-found knowledge he applied for baptism himself and was baptized in October of 1783.

After Carey’s baptism he became a respected city pastor, and began devising a strategy for world evangelization. Even though he was preaching, he had not yet been associated with any one local church body, which was pointed out by John Sutcliff, who reminded Carey the importance of joining some respectable church. So Carey decided to unite with the church at Olney, where he sought their blessings on his labors for the Lord.

Carey was married to Dorothy Plackett, and this marked the beginning of darkness in the 26 years of their marriage. Their first born child, a daughter, died of a fever in her second year, and Carey almost died from the same fever, which left him bald the rest of his life. Then after the sickness, the husband of Dorothy’s sister died and Carey was left responsible for his wife’s sister and her four fatherless children. In order to live Carey had to open a night school for village children, and travel the dirt roads and byways of Northampton shire filling orders, selling shoes, just eking out a living the best he could. But even through all the struggles of life Carey continued to read and study and preach.

Cary had a gift for learning new languages, and was somewhat impatient with others who cited the linguistic barrier as an excuse for doing nothing about missions. He was given the opportunity to pursue Latin, Hebrew and Greek when he was offered 10 shillings a week by Gotch, so that he didn’t have to labor long hours to make shoes for others. Carey continued to study and learn, and wrote an Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. This was a deliberate, logical, forceful presentation of a case based on careful research and argued from deep conviction. This inquiry consists of five chapters dealing with the Great Commission, obstacles to missions, and the Christian’s duty to promote the cause of missions.

Carey himself felt called to respond to the missionary call that he himself had sounded, but two things stood in his way. One was his church, although he assumed that he could persuade his congregation to release him from his pastoral work, and the other obstacle was his wife. The thought of her and their children being transplanted to some distant land was more than she could bear. Soon enough Carey confirmed that call by agreeing to go to India with Thomas, which was a moment of surrender for him. Carey’s wife was only weeks from delivery, and could not be convinced to go, and yet Carey could not be convinced to stay. So Carey, his son Felix, and Thomas set off for India. Due to several unfortunate events, after several weeks they still had not made it to India. The creditors were after Thomas and they did not hold the proper permit to be transported to India. This led to them finally persuading Dorothy to go with them. After five months at sea, battling the storms and many struggles they arrived in India.

India was just the beginning of many more struggles for Carey. For a while they lived on the outskirts of Calcutta in a shack of a house made available to them out of pity by a native moneylender Carey had met. Unsanitary living conditions, and near-starvation had taken their toll them. Dorothy and the older boys, Felix and William, were suffering from dysentery. Felix was so sick Carey did not think he would make it. Carey had to spend most of his time scraping together what he could for the family. Carey was deprived of the blessings of public worship, and he was removed from the fellowship of his dear Christian friends. As Carey continued to move his family and continued to get settled, things proceeded to become worse before they became better. In the process Carey fell victim to a malarious fever, and just as he was beginning to recover, his 5-year-old son Peter contracted an even more dangerous fever and died. Dorothy never recovered from Peter’s death, she lost her mind, displaying only bitterness and hurt the rest of her life.

Carey then began regular Sunday preaching for the natives, drawing between 200 and 600 people a week. His skills in Bengali were improving and he began to be able to preach in their own language. This led to baptisms and finally to a church forming. At first Carey had to go forward a little at a time, through the years of struggle and doubt, of hurt and hope, and through the sorrow of a lost child. But partly fearing and partly hoping Carey kept his hand to the plow knowing God would one day give the increase.

Carey then moved again to Serampore where more help came. A printing press was soon set up, and Carey hit on the idea of publishing copies of the Gospel of Matthew and distributing them as tracts to the people. The gospel was then being read in Bengali for the first time. Carey led the way and the others followed in evangelizing, and even singing hymns in the streets. They were often chased off by flying pebbles and sticks accompanied by insults, taunts, and threats. They preached on, week after week and month after month, without a single convert. Then finally with the help of the Dr. Thomas, one Hindu came to know Christ and broke caste. This single event opened up the door not only for further witness, but for further persecution. After the first Hindu was saved and baptized many more were to follow.

Carey soon became known as the father of modern missions, with his example proving missions work was possible, even through much suffering and hardships. Carey’s Zeal convinced people that missions work was essential; and all of Carey’s work and struggle led to generations of missionaries following in his footsteps. Churches and schools were started, plus years of Indian culture was bieng changed by the efforts of one man willing to serve God no matter what.

Throughout his life Carey was a shoemaker, botanist, translator, preacher, factory manager, and had several children and even several wives. But even among all the good and bad times of his life, most importantly he was a faithful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, in a life of personal grief, and professional ridicule. Carey himself passed away on June 9, 1834 at the age of 73. At his request a segment of one of his favorite Watt’s hymns was inscribed on the stone slab of his grave, which said: A wretched, poor, and helpless worm, on thy kind arms I fall.

What is amazing is the fact that with only a grammar-school education behind him, he had no credentials for missionary service except an inextinguishable conviction that God Almighty had called him to devote his life to the conversion of heathens. He went to India as an illegal alien, failing to secure the required immigration permit. He lacked financial resources and had to struggle through much torment and pain to keep his family alive. Through all of this, Carey remained faithful to God and to the work of missions, earning the title of what we now refer to as the father of modern missions.

I believe Timothy George accomplish his purpose for writing this book by simply telling the story of Carey’s life. It is through the story that the Christians heart is stirred. Carey’s life provides for us a prime example of what it means to be obedient to Christ, even in the midst of the most horrible circumstances, and helps us to see the glory that comes from following God’s purpose. It is obvious that William Carey was a humble man as well, not wishing that any would talk about him or honor him in such a way, but it was through his obedience to Christ and his undying passion for the lost that earns him such honor because it provides for Christians a standard that we can live up to. Carey was not a perfect man, by any means, however he is an excellent example of an average Christian who desired to live a life obedient to Christ, and did so no matter the cost. The story of Carey’s life should be an encouragement to all Christians.

The Baptist Reformation: A Must Read For Southern Baptists

There are two sides of every coin, and likewise there are generally two sides to every story. One person or group may understand an event to occur a certain way while another person experiencing the same incident believes it to be occurring in a different light. Our values and predispositions often dictate what we believe and understand about books we read, news that we hear, and events we are a part of. It would be irrational for us to listen to only one side of the story and craft an opinion on that one account. It is far better to look at both sides of an issue or event and form an educated opinion based on both accounts. It isn’t wrong to have your own thoughts and opinions about something, unless those opinions are based on false pretenses due to a failure to look at both sides of the coin.

An event in the history of Southern Baptists that has affected the direction of the entire denomination is the conservative resurgence. As with all stories or events, there are certainly two sides to this subject. There are conservatives who understood the resurgence to be primarily theological in foundation, and moderates who saw it as a hermeneutical issue and a “hostile takeover.” The truth is Southern Baptists have both the right and the obligation to understand what the resurgence was about from both perspectives. Unfortunately, there has been a void of information from the conservative side, which means most of the written history of this struggle has come from the moderates. However, in the year 2000 a conservative Southern Baptist pastor named Jerry Sutton wrote an informative book to uncover the conservative viewpoint. Jerry Sutton has been the pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville for over 14 years. He holds a Ph.D. in Church History from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, he has supported the changes in the SBC over the years and he writes from not only a conservative perspective but also from the very heart of a conservative Southern Baptist pastor.
In over 500 pages, Jerry Sutton’s book, “The Baptist Reformation,” examines the twenty to thirty-year struggle in the Southern Baptist Convention. Much of this book will mean very little to those outside the convention as Sutton divulges into meticulous detail about what happened in the lives of individuals involved in what he calls the conservative resurgence, but to Southern Baptists these pages are a significant account of history. The Southern Baptist Convention was plagued with liberalism that was slowly creeping into its seminaries and into many of its churches. Sutton offers a very informative account of how the Southern Baptist Convention became the first mainstream denomination to successfully turn itself around. This book is the inside story of what really transpired and why, written not only for the academic community but also for an average layperson who simply wishes to understand what happened.

Obviously Dr. Sutton’s opinions in this matter are bias, which he adamantly admits. Researchers, writers, and teachers alike all draw conclusions based on their own perceptions and convictions. This book is written from the point of view of conservatives and is not framed in any other way. Readers will immediately know and understand the viewpoint of the author. The other obvious factor of the book is its purpose. Dr. Sutton writes in order to uncover the inside story of what really happened in the convention and why it all took place.

The problem was the increasing liberalism sinking deep into the convention mainly due to the moderate leaders unwilling to do anything about it. There was a major drift in the convention that was leading it toward relativism and secularism. Dr. Sutton provides the foundation and background of the problem listing specific papers, books, and people that were a part of this crisis beginning as early as 1959. In detail Sutton’s book deals with the problems surrounding specific works from people such as Eric Rust who wrote a paper entitled “The Challenge of Modern Science” and Ralph Elliott who wrote “The Message of Genesis.” These authors denied Biblical inerrancy and set the stage for the controversies that eventually revealed the true crisis in the convention, theological inadequacy. “The Baptist Reformation” leaves no stone unturned as Sutton dives into great detail in explaining the inadequacies and institutional bureaucracy that entangled the convention.

Once Sutton has established the problem and the reason it occurred he begins to scrupulously explain how the convention was able to change. It was through the Baptist Faith and Message Fellowship, which rallied together conservatives against liberalism, that Judge Paul Pressler met Bill Powell and discovered the mechanism for change in the convention. In vast detail Sutton describes how W.A. Criswell, Judge Paul Pressler, and Paige Patterson became the leaders of the Southern Baptist resurgence. He deals with how these men communicated with churches, brought together a mass amount of conservative messengers and voted into office the first of many conservative presidents in 1979. Sutton gives almost a week-by-week account of what happened in the convention under each conservative president from 1979 to 2000.

A major part of the Southern Baptist Convention is its institutions. Part of the problem from the beginning was the corruption of many of the SBC’s institutions including its seminaries and the increasing tensions between the SBC agencies and the institutional leadership. Chapter by chapter Sutton deals with each of the institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention and how they changed during this time period. He then ends his book with specific look at the cause and effect of the issues that created a need for change in the first place and a look to the future. The conservatives continue to face multiple challenges with respect to the future. It is essential that the bureaucracy, theology, methodology, and vitality of the convention not slip back into the condition it once found itself in. The author’s conclusion is evident; Sutton believes that this battle was a spiritual one and the battle has now been won and truth has prevailed.

The material covered and condensed down into this book and the quantity of convincing evidence that Sutton provides is astonishing. Using an enormous amount of available material, Dr. Sutton provides a surplus of evidence to adequately cover this topic. The most impressive aspect about this book is its heavy reliance upon primary sources and quotes that basically speak for themselves. The reader is not left to wonder about how much of the material is speculation or opinion when specific letters, sources, and papers are quoted word for word.

The organization of this book, its lack of difficult words and its easy to read sentence structure make it simple for academics and lay people alike to read and understand. If someone has any interest at all in what happened in those vital years this is not only an easy read, it is an informative book that you just can’t put down. The only unfortunate aspect is the mention of several committees and agencies that are not explained. Sutton makes mention of the peace committee without ever explaining what it was, which is unfortunate since most people who will read this book probably have never heard of the peace committee.

The Baptist Reformation
is a book written to provide the real story of what happened in the convention and why it happened, completely written from a conservative perspective. It easily meets this goal and goes beyond expectation in thoroughly providing evidence and facts about the problems, solutions, and changes in the convention. Sutton also provides a hopeful outlook of the future of the Southern Baptist Convention and its agencies.

The resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention is an important bit of history that all Southern Baptists and future leaders of the convention should intimately know. It is necessary that churches and students look at both sides of the coin and draw their own conclusions from looking at the perceptions of both. Though I am conservative and my views are thoroughly represented in the pages of this book, I also understand the importance of looking at the resurgence from the point of view of the moderates. There are a vast amount of books, articles, and other materials written about this from the moderate point of view, and The Baptist Reformation provides an accurate view of the conservative outlook on this controversial issue.

An Outrageous New Translation

While I was sitting around the house this evening Christopher sent me a link to an article entitled TESTING THE FAITH from World Net Daily.

Apparently there is a new Bible translation out that not only promotes fornication but encourages it. I’ve seen some ridiculous things in my life, but the idea that anyone would take this apparent “translation” seriously is ludicrous. The moral corruption and depravity of the world slips into all aspects of the Christian life and attempts to corrupt it. What better way to lead people away from God than to take the very truth of the gospel and manipulate it to say things it doesn’t. I just wonder how many people will be led astray.

The new Bible entitled “Good as New” is translated by a former Baptist minister John Henson for the “One” organization. This Bible is being called the “new, fresh and adventurous” translation. This Bible no longer condemns fornicators and adulterers but instead changes Paul’s letter to show him advising Christians to not go without sex for to long.

According to this article, “The translation is pioneering in its accessibility, and changes the original Greek and Hebrew nomenclature into modern nicknames. St. Peter becomes “Rocky,” Mary Magdalene becomes “Maggie,” Aaron becomes “Ron,” Andronicus becomes “Andy” and Barabbas becomes “Barry.”
In keeping with the times, translator Henson deftly translates “demon possession” as “mental illness” and “Son of Man,” the expression Jesus frequently used to describe himself, as “the Complete Person.” In addition, parables are rendered as “riddles,” baptize is to “dip” in water, salvation becomes “healing” or “completeness” and Heaven becomes “the world beyond time and space.”

Here, according to the London Times, are a few sample passages:

Mark 1:4

Authorized version: “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

New: “John, nicknamed ‘The Dipper,’ was ‘The Voice.’ He was in the desert, inviting people to be dipped, to show they were determined to change their ways and wanted to be forgiven.”

Mark 1:10-11

Authorized version: “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. And there came a voice from the heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

New: “As he was climbing up the bank again, the sun shone through a gap in the clouds. At the same time a pigeon flew down and perched on him. Jesus took this as a sign that God’s spirit was with him. A voice from overhead was heard saying, ‘That’s my boy! You’re doing fine!'”

Matthew 23:25

Authorized version: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”

New version: “Take a running jump, Holy Joes, humbugs!”

Matthew 26:69-70

Authorized version: “Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, ‘Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.’ But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.”

New: “Meanwhile Rocky was still sitting in the courtyard. A woman came up to him and said: ‘Haven’t I seen you with Jesus, the hero from Galilee?” Rocky shook his head and said: ‘I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!'”

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

KJV: “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”

New: “Some of you think the best way to cope with sex is for men and women to keep right away from each other. That is more likely to lead to sexual offences. My advice is for everyone to have a regular partner.”

1 Corinthians 7:8-7

KJV: “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”

New: “If you know you have strong needs, get yourself a partner. Better than being frustrated.”

It isn’t enough for people to simply say, “we do not believe in the Bible.” Instead they want to believe in something, but when they get to the point where they cannot comfortably accept the truth of scripture, instead of denying it as truth those who oppose the Word change scripture in order to make it say what they want so they have something to believe in comfortably. If they Bible says “don’t commit sexual sin” and we want to commit sexual sin then all we have to do is change what the Bible says. However it is no longer the truth we believe in but a lie.

Pressed

What Ever Happened To Worship?

On any given Sunday morning hundreds of people pull into their nicely paved parking spots that overlook a beautifully landscaped area with blooming flowers, trimmed bushes and freshly cut grass. They walk up the sidewalk, barely noticing the last of three brand new vans finishing their rounds and pulling into the bus garage across the street. A smiling face greets them at the door and hands them a fancy church bulletin, printed in color, as they proceed to enter the auditorium. Immediately two large screens, one on each side of the room, grab their attention as two projectors flash fancy PowerPoint slides and video images, from a brand new computer, onto the screens. They finally sit down on their soft, comfortable pew and begin staring at the fresh flowers that line the stage every week. Shortly after the people get comfortable, a beautiful arrangement of music begins to flow out of a new baby grand piano and a matching electronic keyboard sitting on both sides of the stage. When the music comes to an end the handsomely dressed pastor quickly steps up to the podium to welcome the crowd to the morning worship service. Week after week seems the same, they sing a few songs, listen to a message, stand quietly during the invitation and then return to their cars exactly the same as when they came in. If I were to describe some of these folks I would have to say they are neither hot, nor cold, but lukewarm. There are many churches that look as if they have everything they need, and if they don’t have it they can get it. The problem is, most of our church members don’t realize they lack something that is vital to the life of a Christian, true, life changing Worship.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:14-17)

The church spends a large amount of time and resources working for God. It is a big deal when we have people volunteering their time to do ministry for the sake of God’s kingdom. I support that one hundred percent because I think Christians should be involved in ministry and doing the work the Lord has given them, within the right context. In his book, Whatever Happened To Worship, A. W. Tozer points out, and I agree, that we should not be concerned about working for God until we have learned the meaning and the delight of worshiping Him. This is why we are here, we were created to worship. God is not in desperate need of faulty humans trying to do His work for Him, but He does desperately want His people to worship Him and enjoy Him forever. Our desire to do ministry and work for God should come out of our worship and adoration of Him. To the true worshiper, carnal and worldly religious projects pale in comparison to devoted and reverent worship. It is in worship that we find irresistible joy and unquenchable peace, it is in worship that we rejoice and take great pleasure in God, and it is in worship that we are doing what we were created to do. We may have great churches and beautiful sanctuaries but we are in desperate need of worshipers.

“There are a lot of people who are willing to sit on our church boards who have no desire for spiritual joy and radiance and never show up for the church prayer meeting. These are the men who often make the decisions about the church budget and the church expenses and where the frills will go in the new edifice.” There are many cases where the people running the church do not pray or worship, but simply spend their time determining where the church will go and completely miss their purpose in the body of Christ. We were created to worship God and unfortunately it seems as if we are just attempting to be a part of some “ecclesiastical machine.” According to the Westminster Catechism; “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” To worship and glorify God is our purpose. A Christian who does not know why they are here has lost their identity. My desire is to see us reclaim our own identity and as a result, see my church get back to worship again. I desire to see people come into our doors and instantly sense the presence of a holy God among His holy people.

“God’s highest desire is that every one of His believing children should so love and so adore Him that we are continuously in His presence, in Spirit and in truth.” Tozer points out the first requirement for being in the presence of God in such a manner, which is to be a converted believer in Jesus Christ. When Jesus changes our lives we are being restored to the place of worship which was intended from the beginning of creation. We were created in His image, created with the capacity to know God and the instincts to worship Him. When the Spirit regenerates us our whole being senses the connection to God and leaps in joyous recognition! It can be concluded that those who have never experienced the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit cannot truly worship God. Even if the church can get over the hurdle of having a large percentage of church members who cannot worship God because they do not know Him, there is still the problem with believers who are not experiencing true spiritual worship. How is it that the true children of God have reached such a state? Tozer believers it is because the people who lead us in the pulpit and in the pew do not give much indication that fellowship with God is delightful beyond telling. In other words, it is our lack of understanding who God really is and what worship is really about that keeps us from the true spiritual worship that God desires. To correct this problem we must correct our understanding of who God is and who we are in Him.

God is the most enchanting and glorious being of all, and in our worship of Him we should find unspeakable pleasure. God is pleased to reveal Himself to those who seek Him so that we would know and understand who He really is and what that means to our lives. It is in our knowledge of God that we find great purpose and motivation for worship. Unfortunately the church is in the habit of offering up an artificial means to try and induce some kind of worship, when all we need is true believers soaking up God’s revelation of Himself which creates a response of incredible worship.

Tozer believes there are forms of worship that God will not accept. Christians may worship in many different ways and offer their worship to God, however it may not be an acceptable form of worship. The reality is, true worship must be in spirit and in truth even though it is plainly possible to have a religious experience apart from Christ. It is impossible for any of us to worship God without the impartation of the Holy Spirit. It is the operation of the Spirit of God within us that enables us to worship God acceptably, which means worship originates with God, it’s led by God, and carried out to God. No other form of worship is acceptable. “When a person, yielding to God and believing the truth of God, is filled with the Spirit of God, even his faintest whisper will be worship.”

God is complete in purity and holiness. He is far more holy than anything man would consider good on earth. God is righteous beyond measure, completely divine in His nature and He is one who’s character and nature signal perfection. Our reaction to the divine attributes of God should be like Isaiah’s reaction when he found himself in the presence of the almighty. “He was struck with awe, his whole world quickly dissolving into a vast, eternal brightness.” There is something about God that is different, that is beyond us, that is above us. When a believer encounters the presence of the living God there are several unavoidable reactions. First of all the believer is struck with awe at the magnificence of God. Secondly the believer is trapped with complete horror of his own sin and unrighteousness as he sees his life in stark contrast to that of complete holiness. Thirdly the believer is enflamed with deep sorrow and conviction over their present state of sinfulness. Lastly the believer is thrust into a state of confession and repentance before God in an act of complete obedience and worship of His divine nature and immense holiness. Unfortunately this does not look like the worship services in our church today. Confession, repentance, and conviction over sin seem to be lost in our failed attempts at creating a worship that is comfortable for everyone. There is still great depravity among the people who are called to be saints, and sadly they seem to be totally unaware of it. I believe that the man who has seen the true beauty of God is completely broken and undone before Him, and it is at the point of being undone that God raises us up to worship Him and praise Him like never before. Worship is a response to God’s revelation of Himself, a revelation that should shed light on the darkness that fills man. Tozer believes that “God has saved us to be worshipers.” It is Tozer’s desire, and it should be ours, that God would show us a vision of ourselves that will dis-value us to the point of total devaluation. From there He can raise us up to worship Him and praise Him and to witness.

It seems as though Christians are losing their awareness of God. We have so secularized God, secularized the gospel, and secularized worship that we no longer know what it means to love and worship God because in the route that has brought us into the church there has been no personal encounter, no personal crisis, no need of repentance. Week after week we pile into multi-million dollar establishments, experience a religious service, and leave no different that when we went in. The splendor of God that we sing, read, and hear about on a Sunday morning is quick to leave us when we walk out of the doors and into ‘real’ life again. True worship, however, does not stop at the door of the church. It is a part of our daily lives, in everything we do, as we recognize the grandeur of God in all creation, at every moment in our day. “Our total lives, our entire attitude as persons, must be toward the worship of God.”

A believer fully determined to seek, yield, and believe that which God has revealed to us has a heart fully devoted to unbroken fellowship and communion with God in our day to day lives. When we pull into our nicely paved parking spots, gaze at the beauty of our churches, and walk through the doors into a place of worship each Sunday, it is to the glory of our risen savior. Having worshiped God all week with our lives, we now celebrate with one another and confess and repent before God standing in awe of his holiness as his presence fills our hearts. When we walk out of those doors we will be different, renewed, and ready for another full week of worshiping God with our lives. Why? Because we were created to worship.

Is Civil Disobedience An Option For Christians?

Francis Schaffer wrote a book called “A Christian Manifesto.” In it he wrote a chapter on the use of Civil Disobedience. His conclusion was that against popular opinion there are cases in which resistance to government is not only appropriate but also required. It is appropriate for individual people to defend themselves whether by protest, fleeing, and even force if necessary. This is a pattern that King David followed in his life. It is also appropriate for corporate groups or communities to defend themselves by protest and force as well. These are the most viable alternatives to defending our own rights and privileges in our day and age.

As Christians we often do not think about how we can change the laws and governments. Most of the time we let things slide by and we let laws pass that are against our moral judgments simply because we do not think. Christians should be thinking about the type of society we are living in today, and we should be resisting the narrow and bigoted humanist views. This means that we should be using the appropriate forms of protest available to us today because honestly folks, shouldn’t we use our freedom while we still have it?

We have set back and let the government take over everything that the original government of the United States did its best to restrain, bound, and resist. If we realize that we have been looking at everything in small fragments and have failed to see anything in totality then we realize that we could have been doing something all along. Schaffer says now that, “we are at war” and so “one either confesses that God is the final authority, or one confesses that Caesar is lord.” Leaving us with the question, will we do anything about it, or will we set back and let this relativistic, narrow, humanist view take over everything, even our own churches?

Shaffer claims that there comes a time when force is needed, even physical is necessary. As Christians we should never take the law into our own hands, but when we can no longer flee or protest then we must use force in our defense.

Take abortion for example. In the case of abortion we should aggressively support a human life bill, we must actually enter into the courts seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision, and we should take political and legal action against hospitals and abortion clinics that perform abortions. This is an example of Christian using force to change the system. The same thing can be done with the current issues of homosexual marriage. That is exactly what the gay-rights activists are doing… Instead of doing something about it Christians just sit on the sidlines spitting insults and opinions at the current movement without taking action at all.

The government cannot be put in the place of God for Christians. At any point in time where a Christian obeys the government and disobeys God then he is replacing God with his government, and that should never be. Schaffer makes the statement that if there is no place for civil disobedience, then the government has been put in the place of the living God. The early Christians performed civil disobedience even when it cost them their lives simply for the fact that they would not obey the government over God. This is also the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego in the book of Daniel. They would not obey the government over God, and they would rather die than be disobedient. Is this not how we should be today? God has set the standard and the example in his word of proper civil disobedience.

In his last chapter, Schaffer states that we have been foolish to not see the whole picture. It was our own blind foolishness that caused us to see everything in bits and pieces. We have let a false view of reality slip into our society and now we face a big and powerful enemy, the humanist worldview. Christians need to realize that we are required to make the appropriate response to any law that is contrary to the living God. This type of resistance must be for every area in government that is contrary to God, it can’t be just certain things.

What we need now is all Christians to stand up against the other worldviews, and to take the steps necessary to break the hold which the humanist view has on government, law, media, the schools, and even our own families. That would fulfill not only the scripture, but it would also fulfill what the law originally intended, freedom for all. It is the responsibility of those who know better to not only understand the problem, but to take action against it. If we continue to allow this view to take over everything in our society, even to the point of obeying the government over God, then how can we possibly be loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, and soul?

Shall We Dance?

Within the last ten years there has been an increasing phenomenon occurring in the church, the rapid implementation of dance and drama in worship and evangelism. Whether it is dance or drama that is being used as a form of worship or simply to liven up a dull worship service, it is essential that we understand what the Bible teaches about these forms and how they should be implemented into the lives of Christians. In this post I will present a review of the main arguments pertaining to the book “Shall We Dance” by Brian Edwards and I will offer my own response to his arguments.

It is helpful to first define the terms dance and drama according to Edwards view before examining his main arguments on the subject. Using the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Oxford English Dictionary Edwards offers two working definitions that will identify what he means by dance and drama throughout the rest of his book.

Dance: “The art of moving the body in a rhythmical way, to express an emotion or idea, to narrate a story, or simply to take delight in the movement itself.”

Drama: “A play in verse, prose or mime of a story which develops a theme. It is performed by actors who represent other people, real or imagined.”

Six claims made in defense of the use of dance and drama in the context of church worship and evangelism:

1. Dance and drama are essential. “Traditionally the inclination of hte heart always expresses itself in the movement of the body.”

“Because of our essentially bodily nature it is unnatural not to express onself in dance”Clive Barker

2. Dance and drama are valuable for Christian education. “People are no longer taught to think in abstract terms, they must physically see to understand.”

3. Dance and drama are effective for evangelism. “If follows that a society that communicates through its arts understands through its arts.”

4. Dance and drama are stimulating for worship. “Drab long-faced, sermon-heavy services will not hold a young, lively congregation.” Therefore dance and drama are needed to spice up the service.

5. Dance and drama are valuable for Christian fellowship. Folk Arts are valuable in the church because they help the ‘Family’ to be together and to relax and enjoy one another’s company.

6. Dance and drama are legitimate expressions of cultural roots. “Dance is an expression of social thinking and national character.”

After Edwards gives lists these six reasons for dance and drama in the church he goes on to take a good look at scripture to see how the bible views these practices. He comes to the conclusion that there is only one word in the Bible that lines up with the definition of dance, that his mahol. This word is found in only three places in the Old Testament used in association with worship. The dancing of the maidens in Judges 21, and the joy of God’s people overflowing in Psalms 149:3 and 150:4. These three verses alone do not provide enough evidence for dancing in the church and the New Testament is completely devoid of any references to dancing in worship. Drama, by definition, is not found in the Bible at all, which means there is no support for the case that religious drama can be called biblical.

The first argument that Edwards gives against dance and drama in worship is “dance and drama reflect the worst of societies standards.” When taking a brief look at the history of dance and drama it becomes clear that both can be found in religion and worship and yet both were so morally corrupt that neither of these practices were fit for the church. Dance became largely erotic and drama not only fulfilled the bloodlust of the Romans, but often made fun of Christians. The early church rejected such forms because in the early centuries all forms of acting and dancing were pagan and debase.
However, there came a turning point where the church began to Christianize the pagan temples, absorb pagan ritual into Christian worship, and from this dance and drama tiptoed into the church. The corruption of dance and drama in society spread to the church over time and by the tenth century, it had fully tainted Christian worship as the church tried to keep up with the world. The early church began to reflect society when it implemented dance and drama into its services and the result was not a change in society but a corruption of the church.

The same thing seems to be happening in our society as well with the modern television trap. Going to a play may have been a common practice in the past for some who were looking for entertainment, but now drama is in the home twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. This form of corruption, forbidden by evangelical Christians in the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, is now customary in the homes of modern day Christians. Just like the stage of Greece and Rome our entertainment is becoming “more and more explicit, with acts of indecency and violence being commonplace.” Dance and drama has reflected the worst of society’s standards both in the past and in the present.

Edwards also claims, “dance and drama are always in danger of trivializing the serious.” They do not have to do this, but all too often, that is the result. It is certainly possible to have a play that emphasizes the seriousness and portrays an actual biblical story in such a way that reveals truth, but finding plays that accomplish this is a difficult task. Edwards believes that in today’s society “it seems necessary to always introduce some slapstick humor even into the most serious portrayals.” This brings about an element of ‘thoughtless blasphemy’ as Christians watch and create plays that poke fun at or make light of the seriousness of the gospel. Even though all Christian drama does not have to be this way there is a very serious danger in taking a form of entertainment and using it in worship.

Another problem pointed out by Edwards is “dance and drama avoid direct and personal confrontation.” The method of evangelizing in the New Testament church was not dance and drama, but preaching, testimony, personal witness, and debate. Drama and dance are forms of entertainment that involve the actors pretending to be something they are not, and an audience turning off their brains in order to absorb entertainment. There is no accountability or personal confrontation with the audience; it simply becomes a remote process. The arts cannot be a substitute for personal evangelism or preaching, because they do not communicate the truth of Christ in a way that shows the unconverted the gospel. “The words of the good news message are intended to be conveyed in the real life of a real Christian” and done by a Christian in a way that allows for a response from the congregation.
Dance and drama are artistic forms which means they “have generally to be interpreted.” Unlike drama, preaching is direct and has no need for interpretation. Drama and dance on the other hand are artistic forms of expression that have to undergo interpretation in order for the crowd to understand the meaning. A play may have a Christian theme that is obvious to the creator, but it could confuse and lose the audience who do not understand the meaning. An excuse to use dance and drama in a worship service is to reach more lost people, however it is obvious that the lost have no knowledge of scripture and would find it difficult to know whether a play is accurately displaying the words and meaning of Scripture. Drama has a tendency to distort the words and meaning of Scripture for entertainment value.

“Dance and drama are neither natural nor the most effective methods of communication.” The arts have never been used during a time in the life of the church when there was spiritual growth and revival. Speech is the dominant form of communication that has carried the gospel for years and is by far the most effective use of communication. The gospel should be effectively communicated in such a way that brings about change. The arts, however, are not used to shape society but to reflect it.

Another argument that Edwards has is “dance and drama are frequently no more than escape from reality.” Entertainment is used, in almost all cases, for enjoyment, not to shape peoples lives or to present a message that changes society. When entertainment is the key to most dance and drama then the church finds itself entertaining the congregation rather than enlightening them. Our society has been conditioned to see drama as a form of entertainment and when this process starts the brain is shut off in order to simply experience the enjoyment of the activity. “The television is used as a drug by millions today; through it people can escape.” This is an ineffective way to reach people with the truth of the gospel.

The last argument against dance and drama in worship and evangelism is “dance and drama are particularly open to sensual responses.” The type of emotions and experiences that result from dance and drama are not often responses of worship. The performance dance has often been said to bring eroticism into Christian worship. The arts usually have the danger of arousing “feelings that lead to lust, and it must, therefore be a distraction in both worship and evangelism.” When dance and drama provide more distraction and confusion in a worship service than revelation and growth they certainly should not be a part of Christian worship.

In conclusion, Edwards believes that dance and drama are dangerous and most likely have no place in the Christian practice of worship and evangelism. To communicate the gospel to people, Edwards believes that preaching is the key and dance and drama are quick-fix solutions to the lack of spiritual power in a church. When dance and drama are implemented into the church as a fix to a spiritual problem, then the message of truth is either altered to delude its content, or removed all together. The early Christians used preaching to evangelize and empower Christians and the message has never changed, nor should it. As far as worship and evangelism goes in the church, Edwards concludes that only “two things are needed in our churches today: a praying congregation and a preacher.”

I believe the corruption of dance and drama is alive and well in our society in television, movies, plays, magazines, the internet, and any other form of entertainment. Although not all of this is necessarily bad for the church, it is dangerous. The Bible says all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. I have to wonder whether implementing drama and dance in the church is at all beneficial to our spiritual growth. It may be permissible for Christians to practice and participate in ‘Christian’ drama and dance; however, I believe it should never be a part of worship or evangelism. The church has the potential to begin implementing the things of the world into the worship services and slowly corrupt itself over time, therefore making history repeat itself. This re-enforces the importance of being very selective about what is allowed in our worship services. If it is not found and supported in scripture then it should not be a part of our worship.