Original Sin Means Sin Can’t be Helped and Isn’t a Big Deal

One of the ramifications of the Reformed doctrine of Original Sin is that it makes sin irresistible. You have to do it. Since you have to do it and you have no choice, there’s really no point in not sinning.

This is why Calvin insisted upon Irresistible Grace; it had to be because sin was already irresistible.

Calvinist notions of Total Depravity and Original Sin are often applied even to those who are saved. In other words, many still think your after-conversion supposed righteous efforts are still filthy rags, as you are still unable to resist sin even after salvation.

No doubt, some inconsistent Calvinists would deny this. But if God has ordained every single action of every atom of creation, then I have no power to do anything. If God wills me to sin, then I must sin.

Of course, this then means that sin is God’s will, and if that is the case, you can no longer define sin as “doing whatever is against God’s will.” Thus, the idea of original sin makes God the one accountable for sin.

We can’t stop it. He can. He didn’t. God is responsible.

Furthermore, most who would be considered antinomian or hyper-grace are Calvinists. Some will go on to say that sin is just your old nature which you can’t control anyway. Everyone sins, you have to, lighten up!

The notion that sin is irresistible really takes the edge off of sin. There really is no point in resisting it.

When Jesus tells us to be perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect, well, He was just exaggerating. Got a little carried away. When Paul tells us we should be perfecting holiness in the fear of God, we know he meant to say, “just kidding, you can’t really do that.”

Do I think true believers can achieve perfection in this life? I doubt it, but the degree to which we don’t, is the degree to which we are accountable for not being so. It’s not God’s fault.

Yet most Christian doctrine ceases to have a problem with sin. We’ve given up the fight since there’s no real point to fight what is inevitable.

If you think sin is irresistible and can’t be helped, I suggest you have some things wrong in your understanding.

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Primary Passages Concerning Original Sin

Original Sin, in my mind, means that humans are born tainted with sin, just as the rest of fallen creation they are born into. They have a natural inclination toward sin. Little kids are evil and no one had to teach them to be this.

Original Sin, in my mind, does not mean I am guilty for Adam’s sin, nor does it mean I am deserving of hell simply by being born. That being the case, I believe when babies and kids die before an “age of accountability,” they go to heaven. I admit this Age of Accountability is a theory and not explicitly taught in Scripture.

There are many Proof Texts used to support Original Sin. Here is a list of some with my commentary.

Psalm 51:5–“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Conception is different from birth. There is actually some biblical proof to show that David’s mother may have gotten pregnant in a non-lawful way. This verse is not saying David was born a sinner; it says he was conceived in sin.

Psalm 58:3–“The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” I do not disagree. This does not say we are born guilty of Adam’s sin, though.

Ephesians 2:3–“were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” We are born having a desire to think selfishly, to protect our fleeting life. We sin. We, by nature, by inclination, sin. I am guilty because of the sin I do, not guilty because of Adam’s sin. I would also like to point out Romans 2:14, that Gentiles “do by nature the things contained in the law.” So, for all those who overdo Total Depravity, notice that by nature Gentiles also do good. “By nature” is the exact same phrase in the Greek in both passages.

Romans 5:12-19–This is a passage often contorted to prove a view of atonement that requires Christ’s righteous deeds to be added to my account because Adam’s sinful deeds are already on my account. I wrote about this the other day. Within this passage are verses that seem to refute the idea that I am born having Adam’s sin on my account

Romans 5:12–“by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” Because of Adam’s sin, death entered. Notice carefully why he says people die. It does not say all die because of Adam’s sin counted to them. It says “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” God holds me accountable for my sin, not Adam’s

Romans 5:13–“sin is not imputed when there is no law.” If the typical Reformed doctrine of Original Sin is true, then they should also concede that before Moses, no one had original sin. Sin is not imputed when there is no law. Therefore, Adam’s sin imputed to people (the Reformed doctrine of Original Sin) could not have occurred. It is also my contention that not knowing God’s law, being ignorant of it, is the same as not being under the law, Romans 2:14 clearly states that Gentiles do not have the law! Therefore, no Gentile could have Adam’s sin imputed to them either.

Romans 5:15–“the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” If the Reformed doctrine of Original Sin is true, then all are saved. If Adam’s one sin is imputed to me to make me guilty and deserving of hell even though I did nothing, then so too must Christ’s righteous deed be accounted to all human accounts as well, since Christ was the same federal head of all humans like Adam. But alas, few say this. Why? Because there is a voluntary joining with Christ that makes all the difference. Just as there is a voluntary joining in being a sinner like Adam. Although I am not guilty of Adam’s sin, I am guilty of my sin I do. This makes me deserving of death just as it made Adam deserving of death. Death passed to all men for that ALL HAVE SINNED.

Romans 5:18–“even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” I’ll just throw this in here because it refutes Limited Atonement, which is the driving factor of the Reformed notion of Original Sin and Adam’s sin imputed to us. Salvation is a potential for all, for Christ died for all, and offers the gift of grace to all, not just the elect.

Romans 5:19–“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” Yes, Adam’s sin makes people sinners. People will sin because they are born in a fallen world trying to preserve their fading life. I am not guilty of Adam’s sin, though. I am guilty of my sin. Death came to all because all sinned. They didn’t all sin in Adam either. They sinned on their own.

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There are other passages that are used, but these are the main ones. It is sufficient to give you the idea of where I am coming from. Yes, we are born into a fallen world with a natural inclination to do evil. But we are also given, by God’s grace, the natural ability to do good. The offer of saving grace is for all who believe. That is the main point. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Do that, and our little doctrinal squabbles will melt into oblivion.

Original Sin and the Age of Accountability

Original Sin, in my mind, does not mean I am guilty of Adam’s sin. I am guilty of my sin and will be held accountable by God for it and it alone.

God is just and does not hold people accountable for sins they did not commit. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

Yet the standard Reformed doctrine of Original Sin says I am born guilty, born deserving of hell because of something Adam did.

That being the case, all babies who die in the womb are in hell. All kids who die before becoming born again are in hell. Calvinists at least have somewhat of an out here by saying, “No, only the non-elect babies are in hell.”

Of course, you have no idea if yours or any other baby was elect, so quite frankly, this offers little in the way of solace. Not that Calvinism was invented to grant solace.

This dilemma was a main factor in the invention of Infant Baptism. Since all babies are born with the guilt of Adam’s sin they remain deserving of hell.

Origen said, “The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine sacraments, knew there is in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit”

The Bible does not directly speak of an “Age of Accountability.” David says he will go where his dead baby is, but many dismiss that as just David saying he’s going to die someday.

What I do know is, to whom much is given, much is required, which would seem to imply that the one who was given nothing is not required anything.

I do know that God deals with ignorance and does not hold people accountable to things they did not know, in fact, He has compassion on them. I do know that God is just and will sort this out righteously.

I do know that God takes sin very seriously. God defines sin based on you knowing what you’re doing, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Leviticus 4 is probably not a passage in your daily devotional book. But it speaks about sins of ignorance. A person is not held accountable for these sins until he becomes aware of them. Once he is aware of them, he is to offer the appropriate sacrifice to take care of it.

Sin is defined as violating God’s Law, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Violating God’s Law is a huge point. If a person does not know God’s law, can he really be counted a sinner?

Romans 5:13 seems to be a major problem for the Reformed view of Original Sin, “For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Sin implies a knowing of God’s Law. If there is no law, there is no transgression.

Children can sin. Children sin all the time, quite frankly. But since they don’t know God’s law, I take it that sin is not imputed to them by God. Therefore, children are viewed as being “innocent” by God.

Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

I have no idea when this age is. I believe it is different for each kid. Based on my experience with kids, some seem to understand very young. Others, good Lord, others seem to take forever. God will handle it justly.

That’s my take. If you disagree, this bothers me none at all. But I would ask you to be consistent.

There are many who cling to an Age of Accountability who at the same time hold to the Reformed tradition of Original Sin and Total Depravity. Please understand this is logically impossible. Take steps to remedy this and spare yourself embarrassment.

Original Sin and Atonement

I do not believe that Original Sin means I am guilty for Adam’s sin. But the mainline view of Original Sin does believe this.

Reformed Theologian Louis Berkhof says, “Original sin. This includes both guilt and pollution. The guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to us. Because he sinned as our representative, we are guilty in him. Moreover, we also inherit his pollution, and now have a positive disposition toward sin. Man is by nature totally depraved.”

This is a fairly typical explanation of Original Sin.

Much of this doctrine is taken from a view of the Atonement and a particular reading of Romans 5 and the contrast between Adam and Christ.

In typical Substitutionary Atonement lingo, we are imputed with the very righteous deeds of Christ so that God no longer sees us, God now only sees Christ and Christ’s righteous deeds.

In essence, Christ kept the law for us. I see no real point to maintaining this doctrine on two counts:

1) If I am saved because Christ kept the Law for me, then Paul was wrong when He said no flesh is justified by deeds of the Law, nor does Christ’s death seem necessary in this.

2) God very much sees me and I will be judged on whatever I have done in the body, whether good or bad.

But alas, this idea of the imputed righteous deeds of Christ to my account is standard Christian theology. If one dares to reject it, one will be labeled a heretic.

Worse things can happen to you.

Since the view, made popular by Calvin, that Christ’s individual good works are added to my account, the reverse must then also be true: Adam’s individual sinful deeds are on my account already.

Therefore, I am guilty and a sinner because of what Adam did, and I am made righteous, not be anything I did, but by Christ’s good deeds on my account.

This then, leads to Calvin’s necessity for Limited Atonement.

Limited Atonement says that Christ only died for the elect. So, when John says Christ was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, he was just getting carried away.

We can’t have that! Because then all would be saved. We know all aren’t saved, therefore something must have gotten in the way. If Christ died for everyone, and yet some aren’t saved, then Christ’s blood was wasted, and we can’t have that either! Goes the argument.

Therefore, Limited Atonement. If you are one of the unlucky ones whom Christ did not die for, you are left with the guilt of Adam’s sin, which was imputed to you because your parents couldn’t keep their pants on.

If Christ didn’t choose to impute His righteous deeds to you, then you have no shot. Sucks to be you. There is nothing you can do because you need Christ’s righteous deeds imputed to you, and you have no say in that.

You will rot in hell for being guilty of a sin you didn’t commit.

Obviously, by my sarcasm, you can tell I am not a fan of this logic. These ideas of Original Sin and Total Depravity are the necessary logical results of a flawed theory of Atonement.

Since I can’t do anything to get saved, since I’m so depraved by Adam, and I need Christ’s righteous deeds and I can only get that through God’s election, Irresistible Grace, and Calvin’s doctrines, nothing I do matters.

Again, I find this all to be an elaborate scaffolding to hold up a teetering theology that would be better served to just go with what God said rather than human over-thinking.

Origins of Original Sin

Original Sin is the idea that all of humanity sinned and became guilty when Adam sinned.

This teaching was around in some form since Irenaeus in the 2nd century while he battled with Gnostics. Although, at the same time, other theologian types disagreed with him, maintaining that humanity was free and not inherently guilty.

Augustine came along and really formalized the doctrine of Original Sin. Augustine was tainted with philosophy in much of his theology. Original Sin is a prime example.

He believed that man was born as a guilty sinner and all were present in Adam when Adam sinned, thus all are born guilty. Augustine had pretty weird views of sex, original sin is passed on by sexual reproduction, thus sex was viewed as not a good thing.

A later guy, Rainier Sacchoni, took these ideas and said that marriage was “a mortal sin. . . as severely punished by God as adultery or incest.” Even sex within marriage was viewed as evil because of its link with passing on Original Sin.

These early dabblings in the doctrine of Original Sin were later grabbed onto by Luther and Calvin and formed into our modern understanding of Original Sin. Calvin went further, making Original Sin the reason we are totally depraved, unable to respond to the goodness of God on our own.

Thus, the modern notion of Original Sin, says that we are guilty of Adam’s sin and are so guilty and tainted with his sin that we are unable to do good at all, or even see good, or be attracted to good.

All this seems quite silly to me and smacks more of Gnosticism than biblical theology.

Adam’s sin certainly did impact the world. Because of the first sin, death was brought into existence and all future people were born into a fallen world. We are born with the natural inclination to sin.

However, I see absolutely no biblical proof at all, whatsoever, that we are guilty of Adam’s sin. Any time someone is judged for a sin in the Bible, it’s for a sin they actually committed. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

If you end up in hell some day, it won’t be because of Adam’s sin; it’ll be because of your sin.

Adam’s sin produced a fallen world. If you are alive, you are part of the fallen world. Things are no longer “good” as God originally created them to be.

Little babies are born as little selfish sacks of sin. They do not need to be taught to be sinful. They do creepy things naturally.

In my opinion, that is what Original Sin is: we are tainted with sin and have a natural inclination toward it. I by no means believe Original Sin means I am guilty for what Adam did, nor do I believe this makes me so sinful I am incapable of responding to the goodness of God.

More tomorrow, Lord willing.

Just Because The Church Is Busy, Doesn’t Mean It’s Doing Anything Helpful

I wonder how much of what “the church” does, actually harms the church.

It seems we get so focused on doing weird stuff, and then call it “success” when we get the results we were looking for.

“If termites could talk, they would call what they do ‘progress.'”

I like that quote!

Just because you’re doing what you think you should do, doesn’t mean what you are doing is helpful.

What is the end goal for what a church does?

If a church does things to “fill the seats,” all manner of ungodly things can be done to fulfill that mission. Do any of them actually help, though?

Sure, your rock concert with door prizes in your church drew a crowd, but is that really helping the church?

I suppose some would argue it is. If it gets them in they might hear the Gospel, and if nothing else, it keeps them out of where they might have been otherwise.

Maybe.

To me it just seems to confuse the issue. The church is just one more place marketing for your money and attention. Just one more bit of noise in our cacophonous world.

This is where the “but if it saves one soul, isn’t it worth it?” argument appears.

My answer to that question is, “Not necessarily.”

OK, someone may have been saved through your worldly attempt at marketing the Gospel. They may have been able to cut through the smoke and mirrors and seek out the truth and get saved. It’s possible.

But how many other souls did you destroy in the process? How many souls did you fake into thinking they were saved because they did your thing you wanted them to do?

There are things called Pyrrhic Victories, where, yeah, ok, you win. But in the process you end up being devastated.

I think that’s where the church is today. We keep telling ourselves we’re winning because we are getting the result we hoped to get. In the end, we’re shooting for the wrong result.

Our job is to teach people everywhere to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and obey His commands. That’s the result the church and the individuals will be judged on.

Whether you think you’re winning isn’t the point. What Jesus Christ thinks is the main point. Find out what He wants and how He wants it done, and do that.

Oh, and don’t expect it to “work.” If it “worked,” we wouldn’t so quickly adopt the world’s means.

How To Deal With Sin

We are free to be morons.

God has given us the freedom to be dumb. This by no means implies God likes what we are doing. One verse I always think of in this context is, um, I can never find it, Hang on a couple minutes.

Ah yes, Psalm 50.

When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

We do stupid things and God, it appears, lets us get away with it. He doesn’t judge us, kill us, or anything. Wow, God must be pretty happy with me since I know He would strike down real sinners.

Wrong. The sun shines on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Sin is a big deal. God does not like it, even if He is delaying punishment. Your sin is your biggest problem. My sin is my biggest problem. We should begin taking care of our sin before we worry about the sin of others.

Does this mean we never, ever, ever do anything about other people’s sin?

Not necessarily. We take the beam out of our eye to improve our vision to be able to take the splinter out of our brother’s eye. Church Discipline is a big issue in the New Testament, even if it isn’t a big issue in your church.

There are times when the sins of others need to be addressed. This is particularly true in the Church. When a so-called brother is willfully sinning and bringing shame on the name of Jesus Christ, something needs to be said and done.

There should be much more courage in our upholding of God and His standards in our churches. There is too much acceptance of sin in “Christian” lives. This isn’t legalism either, this is obedience to the Apostle Paul.

When it comes to the sin of the world, we shouldn’t be ashamed to stand up for biblical standards either, but it must be done differently. Jesus didn’t seem to mind so much the sin of heathen people. He expected it. This did not imply approval, however!

He told the woman at the well to go get her husband. He didn’t back away for embarrassment or fear that He would offend her. The Gospel is offensive.

But make sure, when you address other people’s sin, that it’s the Gospel doing the offending and not your arrogant, judgmental jerkness.

Easier said than done. Christians don’t have to listen to sinners. We can walk out. In fact, the Bible says to flee all appearance of evil. When was the last time you ran out of a movie theater?

The world is filled with sin. That’s where it belongs. Leave it there. You don’t have to hang around for it. You can point it out with Scripture, or flee.

Perhaps, for being sinners susceptible to temptation ourselves, it’s best just to leave. Let your leaving be your witness against sin, rather than hanging around to discuss it.

In the end, take your own sin the most seriously. Next, deal with the sins in your church. Then, if you have any time left, begin to whittle away at sin in the world.

How is this done? By boycotting? Screaming? Voting? Petitioning? Picketing? Waging holy war?

Nope, it’s done by living and speaking the Word of God. Let the Word do its work of shining the light of truth. Know the Word. Speak the Word. Let the Word do its work.

Relax About Stupid People and Their Sin

Saturday I explained why I didn’t think Christians needed to fuss about Muslims praying in Cathedrals. I stick with what I said.

But I also will add: it’s still pretty stupid.

Do Muslims really not have any places to pray? When was the last time Christians were invited into that prominent of a mosque to pray? Will this effort to symbolically show coexistence really lead to any real peace?

But see, this is where life is: everything on this planet is stupid, and yet doesn’t matter. Read Ecclesiastes knowing that God meant what He said there.

Our government banned the incandescent lightbulb. As a legally blind guy who needs bright lights to see what’s going on, this really irks me. The current situation with health insurance is so stupid, it defies any sense of logic.

When I think on these, and other equally stupid things, it makes me mad. I feel like hitting people.

This concerns other people’s sin, too. There are many people who sin and hurt others. I feel like punching them in the face for their stupid sin that caused all the problems. But alas, God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” “The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.”

God will take care of other people’s sin. My job is to deal with my own, do good, and show love. I’m not supposed to get all hot and bothered about other people’s sin, nor about their stupid.

Typically, when I get upset about other people’s sin, it leads to my own sin and the self-justification of my sin.

All sin and stupid bugs God more than it bugs you. Your and my sin and stupid bugs Him, too. Our job is to love. We are to set our affection on things above. “Affection” means interest your mind in, care for the things above.

The Bible consistently tells us that this life and all that is in the world is temporal and vain. Yet we get heated over these things regularly, while ignoring things of true spiritual importance.

Satan likes to distract. If he can busy you in fuming over Muslim prayers rather than you fixing your own wimpy prayer life, he’ll do that trade all day, every day.

Don’t Be Bothered by Muslims Praying in the National Cathedral

There were Muslim-led prayers in the National Cathedral on Friday. Does that bother you?

It bothers a lot of Christians. Franklin Graham seems especially bothered by it saying:

“Tomorrow, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. — one of the most prominent Episcopal churches in America — will host a Muslim prayer service to Allah. It’s sad to see a church open its doors to the worship of anything other than the One True God of the Bible who sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth to save us from our sins.”

There was also a heckler who shouted into the church, “Jesus Christ is on that cross over there,” she yelled. “Get out of our church. Leave our church alone.”

One of the characteristics of the New Covenant is that we are not a physical race of people inhabiting a physical land, nor do we have physical places of worship or ritual.

Believers in the New Covenant are a spiritual people, where two or three are gathered together God is in the midst. Believers are the temple. We live for a better country–heaven. We set our affections on things above. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be.

This idea is completely lost to most supposed New Covenant believers.

Back in the 1100-1300’s, Christians were bothered by Muslims moving into Christian “holy sites.” They were ticked off about Muslims being in their churches. The church’s answer was to go kill Muslims.

The New Covenant tells us to love our enemies. Loving enemies is only possible if you don’t care about things of the earth. If you think any church building is the house of God, you will get upset by others intruding. You might even get angry at them, which can lead to murder.

The National Cathedral is a building. A building that, by its very ornateness, shows it’s not part of any sort of New Covenant thinking.

When Christians get ticked that non-Christians have entered their “sanctuary,” you know things have gotten confused.

This is not sacrilege. It’s not blasphemy. Protesting it is not zeal for God’s house. God does not have a physical house made with hands on this earth. His people are His House.

Muslims can pray in buildings, especially if people who own that building let them. Relax. Set your affections on things above.

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.

Guilt Leads to Silence, And Silence is Golden

The problem with being a sinner is that you can’t really ever be an authority.

But, another problem with being a sinner is that we often pretend have authority anyway.

An authority is someone who knows stuff and has the power to enforce what they know.

Authority cracks when either 1) you show you don’t know stuff, or 2) you show you have no power.

Sin should be humiliating. It shows we have no power over ourselves, and shows that we lack knowledge.

If we allowed sin to humble us, we’d have very little to say on any given subject.

Most of our judgmentalism of other people’s sin is merely justifications of our own sin.

There are many Bible verses telling us to shut up. One of the main reasons to shut up is because you are a sinner.

When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
    but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

The more we talk, the more we will sin.

The more we sin, the less we should talk. But we don’t, we keep talking, and because we keep talking, we keep sinning.

What is really lacking is that thing called “guilt.”

Yes, we know we have a multitude of sin; what most of us don’t have is a multitude of guilt.

For years Christians have been told “there is no condemnation to those in Christ. You have been forgiven. There is no guilt.”

There is a portion of truth there. I suggest still feeling guilty, however. Not because you offended a person, or broke a legalistic rule, but because of God.

He is holy; you are not. God is in heaven, you are on earth, so let your words be few.

One of the best aspects of Judgment Day is that every mouth will be stopped.

When we see our sin and our guilt, we will finally shut up.

Oh, to get a glimpse of it now. You really have no idea what you’re talking about. Come off the high horse, pontificating about naked celebrities, and deal with your own sin and keep your mouth shut.

Yes, I understand the irony of this post. Stop judging me!

My Take On: “If Religion Died, So Would War.”

In the past couple days I have seen several times the notion that religion is the cause of war and strife in our world. If we eliminate religion; war would be gone.

There are elements of truth in the argument. Certainly religions and religious people have done many evil things. You can’t possibly deny that and maintain credibility.

What I find interesting is that it’s usually people of no religion who make this argument.

It would be like a soccer fan telling Bear and Packer fans to get along. “What’s the big deal? It’s just football. You know, if you just stopped liking football you’d be friends.”

Easy for you to say, you European, boring-sport lover.

If you have no dog in the fight, it’s easy to tell other dogs to relax. But what happens when your dog comes under attack?

There are plenty of non-religious people who cause violence, too. Many times the non-religious attack religious people! Why are non-religious people so hatefully adamant that religious people are screwing everything up? Why so angry? You seem to be defending your belief with some heat there, my friend.

In the end, telling people to just relax their beliefs so we all get along, isn’t really the issue.

It seems to me that the real issue is not how seriously you take your beliefs, but how seriously you take other people’s beliefs.

I care about what you believe. It’s one of the reasons I write and preach. But I’m not going to kill you for believing differently than me. In fact, I’m not even going to hit you, or throw anything at you for believing differently (I may throw things at you for other reasons, however).

Believe as you wish. You will stand before God. If I can’t make my case through my example and communication skills, I fail to see how using violence is going to help my cause.

I take my beliefs very seriously. I am, in the comfort of my home anyway, willing to die for them. I am not willing to kill you for having different beliefs. I don’t take your wrong beliefs as a personal affront.

My God is big enough to handle your non-belief. I am not threatened by your dismissal of Him. It’s your loss.

So, no, I don’t think telling religious people to relax their beliefs is the answer. Telling people to relax about other people’s beliefs might help.

For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men

Don’t Let God’s Patience Stir Up Sin

God is patient. He holds off judgment as long as possible, often longer than the victims would like.

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he was afraid; he didn’t want to go there because he knew God would forgive them. Nineveh was Israel’s enemy. Jonah wanted them toasted. Jonah knew God would forgive them, so he tried to run away.

God is patient, long-suffering, slow to anger, and willing to forgive.

Now, that’s an interesting thing to consider in light of Ecclesiastes 8:11:

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

God’s delay in judging sin, especially so in our “age of grace,” actually encourages people to sin.

It was even this way under the Law though. Observe Psalm 50:21

These things hast thou done, and I [God] kept silence; thou thoughtest that I [God] was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

Not only are we emboldened to sin, we change our view of God. Since God isn’t stopping me in my sin, God must not have a problem with it! Hey, cool! God is just like us!

We let His patience trick us into thinking He approves of us and has similar likings. This is not true.

However, in a different light, when God was nailing people with judgment quite regularly during the 40-years wandering, people seemed to fit sin into their schedule quite easily then too.

Quite frankly, God can’t win. It’s why He’s going to make a New Heaven and a New Earth. We’re really messed up.

Part of the plan of the ages is to show that no matter what God does, the heart of man is set on evil continually. We are horrible people. We have a great God. He’s provided what we need to get our act in order. I suggest we get busy there.

Even Under Grace God Wants Obedience and True Worship

Both the Major and Minor Prophets are ignored by the Church, if not despised.

With all seriousness, there are some obscure parts to these books. But there are also plenty of straightforward, in your face, no doubt what this means, passages.

Prophets, as a group, were fairly ticked off. God’s people were not listening to God. They were playing games with Him, thinking that a few religious observances would be just fine. Practical obedience was optional, at best.

God warned of judgment if they didn’t shape up. They weren’t shaping up. Judgment came.

Now that we’re “under grace” and not law, apparently God has completely changed His mind on this subject. Apparently He’s now OK with religious observances minus actual obedience.

Since Jesus died and rose again, God has apparently given up. He no longer feels like judging hypocritical people who do heartless worship while living in sin.

Really? Perhaps if we took these books more seriously we’d see the passion God has for people’s holiness. Do you really think what you do doesn’t matter?

To whom much is given, much is required. Guess who has more given to them–those who just had the Law, or those who had God in the flesh revealed to them?

Yeah. If God took sin and false worship seriously back then, I’m guessing He does even more so now. As Paul says, we are heaping up judgment against ourselves for the day of judgment.

No, God isn’t nailing people left and right like He seemed to in the OT (even though that is also a misconception. Judgment is God’s strange work). But Judgment is coming.

I suggest we take His Word seriously. What happens to people who trample under foot the Son of God is not good.

The Crusades and American Religious Mythology

We are strangers and pilgrims. This world is not our home. Our treasure is in heaven. There is nothing to fight over down here. The Kingdom of God is not of this world, if it were, the followers of Christ would fight for it. Followers of Christ don’t fight for earthly kingdoms.

Yet there is a notion in Christianity that God will bless our nation, or that God helped us rebel against the King of England (even though the Bible very clearly says to live in subjection to government leaders). There was a significant portion of the Church in America that resisted the Revolution.

Yet the myth continues, that America is the shining light on a hill and God blessed us over all other nations. Which created art work such as this:

GWvalleyForge

The Crusades were started by religious folk who thought they needed to defend God’s territory on earth, primarily Jerusalem. They also thought God was on their side. Take a look at a picture of a crusader found in the Westminster Psalter from 1200:

crusader

So, yeah, I’ll just leave that right there.

Remember junior high history class learning about Manifest Destiny? Our God-given right to kill Indians and take their land?

Yup, very little difference between the crusades and any other secular war that has the veneer of religion.

Be careful out there. Not all things are as they seem.

The Crusades and Loving Your Country

Christians are embarrassed about The Crusades and, to a certain extent, we should be.

At the same time, there is much misunderstanding of the context and the actual people who should be embarrassed.

Muslims were taking over the Holy Sites around Jerusalem. Christianity, under the Roman Empire, viewed itself as Israel Part Two. Therefore, when bad guys take over places in Israel; New Israel needs to go fight to restore it.

This is one reason why Christians need to take to heart the teaching that we are strangers and pilgrims. Once you start feeling attached to things on this earth, you will fight to protect them. You will kill.

People were recruited to fight The Crusades by a promise from the pope that their sins would be atoned for. Crusades were penitential pilgrimages with a little death and violence thrown in, often pillaging to pay for the trip.

When you read the Muslim take on Holy War and the Church’s teaching on Crusades, you realize quickly they were both promising the same thing–die for God while protecting His Stuff and you will be with Him in eternity. Neither realized God has no stuff here.

There was little difference between the Muslim and Christian thought patterns.

The fact that Christians walked around killing Jews and Muslims is a bad thing, but the issue Christians should be embarrassed about is not that.

The true embarrassment is that Christianity so quickly lost sight of eternity and fell for the bowl of pottage that temporal earth sold. It gave up it’s divinely created religion for a man-made sham religion. As C. S. Lewis said, we gave up a holiday at the beach to make mud pies in a puddle.

Catholic Theology set people up for the Crusades, teaching that sins could be worked off by an act of the flesh. Sins of the soul cannot be worked off by an act of the body.

This is a major reason I am a Dispensationalist. Israel and the Church are different. We’re not called to protect a spot on earth. Set your affections on things above. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be.

If you are fighting more for your country than for the Kingdom, don’t be surprised if you feel like killing those who oppose you. Hopefully you’ll pull yourself out of the trap before you actually do kill. (It still shocks me when Christians talk excitedly today about wanting to bomb terrorists into the stone age.)

We live for a better country. It’s what faith is all about.

Rejoice Evermore

I mentioned “rejoice evermore” in my sermon yesterday. Cool two-word verse.

People get the wrong idea about the Christian concepts of “joy” and “rejoicing.”

Many think it means you are always smiling, making slap-happy comments about how awesome Jesus is and rolling in your blessings.

This works fine at birthday parties and Christmas, not so well at funerals, hospital visits, and most of the rest of life. We are supposed to mourn. People who mourn are blessed, according to Jesus.

True Christian joy is the result of the Spirit’s work in your life, pointing you to Christ and to the eternity He bought for you. Hope is the essence of joy.

You can have the worst day ever, one akin to poor Job, and at the end of the day you can still with hope and joy say, “Well, I’m one day closer to meeting the Lord.”

But rejoicing isn’t just something we struggle to do when things are bad; it can even be tough to truly rejoice when things are going well.

For instance, when the 70 disciples that Jesus sent out came back and reported about their ministry victories, Jesus said to them, “Don’t rejoice over this, rejoice that your name is written in heaven.”

Even when things go well, that’s still not what we’re rejoicing about. We rejoice because we ‘re saved. Because this world is just a temporary home.

Christ has saved you. You have eternal life. You are a partaker of the divine nature.

Regardless of the good or bad of life, this should supply you with a constant drip of joy. Enjoy that. Rejoice evermore.

Why I Don’t Care About Reformation Sunday

Reformation Day was yesterday, the anniversary of Luther’s nailing the 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Church. Tomorrow is “Reformation Sunday.”

I don’t bother with such things too much. But I’m also a guy who doesn’t bother too much with Christmas or Easter either, so take it with a grain of salt.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate guys bashing the Catholic Church, which has been quite corrupt over the years. I do appreciate their efforts to call some order and Bible into the equation of religion.

At the same time, I hear a lot of weird stuff about how great the Reformers were. Yesterday someone said, “If it weren’t for the Reformation you still wouldn’t have an English Bible.”

That’s just plain silly. There had been English translations for quite some time, even some as early as the 7th Century. Wycliffe did his work in the 1300’s, 200 years before Luther hammered anything anywhere.

If the Protestant Reformation had never occurred, no doubt, something else would have, as indeed other things did apart from Luther anyway. He wasn’t the only guy in the world ticked off about things.

Besides the Protestant Reformation, there were other reforming movements working around the same time. The Anabaptist and Baptist movements crept up apart from Luther. Menno Simons, the guy of the period I have the most in common with doctrinally, did his stuff apart from Luther and his movement.

Again, I appreciate much of what Luther did, and he took risk in doing it. I applaud that, not trying to disparage the good that came of it. But to rewrite history to make Luther the Father of all non-Catholic churches goes too far.

If you belong to a Reformed or Lutheran church, you, no doubt, want to celebrate your guy. Go for it.

But I really see no need for me to, seeing as how I disagree with the remaining 75% of Catholicism Luther kept, and seeing that there were other guys who laid the foundation upon which I stand who, in my opinion, did a much better job teaching what the Bible said.

That being said, enjoy Reformation Sunday. I’ll be preaching out of an English Bible Luther had nothing to do with in a church that owes nothing to Luther. Amen.