A Self Defeating Doctrine

The other day, I was having a discussion with another Christian on how we are saved. He being Southern Baptist and I Lutheran, we had a bit of disagreement. Nothing heated, but he did bring out a list of things he believes, one of such being we are not born into salvation. Now, I wasn’t quite sure where that one came from as I am not sure of any denomination that believes we are born saved, but it did get my gears turning and brought me to realization about another doctrine Southern Baptists and other denominations hold. Age of Accountability.

The Age of Accountability is a self defeating doctrine because it’s very nature denies other doctrines. Let’s just ignore the fact that there is nothing Biblical about it whatsoever and examine the whopping contradiction that it is.

The Age of Accountability right off the bat automatically claims you are born into salvation for if you cannot go to Hell until age fourteen (or whatever age your denomination holds to), then you are by default saved. If children get a pass, they are literally born into salvation. In a strange and funny way, this turns Jesus into the parent who kicks their child out of the house when they become an adult. What’s the difference between , “Alright son, you’re an adult now. It’s time you got a job and found your own place to live” and “Alright my child, you’re old enough now to decide for yourself. If you want my continued protection, you’ve got to make a choice.” This, in turn, leads to the next two contradictions.

For one thing, it directly denies (for at least a few years, anyhow) the decision theology these denominations so cling to. You have to choose to follow Jesus? Not if you’re eight. Jesus has brought you into salvation by nothing that you do. In a strange and twisted way, this is actually closer to the Gospel than what they believe the adults have to go through because at least with the child, there is nothing that they can do to be saved. It rests entirely on Jesus. Until you’re old enough that is, then you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But at least for a brief time, it’s not about you; it’s about Jesus for you.

And finally, it denies their false doctrine of once saved always saved, because if children get a pass until they’re old enough to make a decision, than that means not only can they lose their salvation, but there’s a clear cut off date that it’s getting taken away unless they do something before it’s too late. If they miss the deadline, well, sucks to be them. They’re going to have to try harder to get back into God’s good graces. Thankfully, once they pass the arbitrary I Chose Jesus test, they’re set for life. I think they should really start calling it Once Saved Again, Always Saved. It’s much more honest that way. I don’t think they realize it, but the whole once saved (again) always saved doctrine is like a free pass to go all heretical. Age of Accountability technically gives children a free pass to be as heretical as they like for a limited time only.

In reality, there is no Gospel in the Age of Accountability. For the children, it gives them a false sense of security. As they get older, towards that age in which they shall be held accountable, it can potentially give them an unwarranted sense of anxiety. And then, beyond that, once they’re saved again, either a sense of self-righteousness or constant worry of if they’re good enough. The fact of the matter is, Jesus died for you sins on the cross and you are called to believe his promise that he will rescue you from sin, death, and the devil. How are you called to believe? Through faith and faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word of God. You don’t make a decision. You don’t invite Jesus into your heart. You don’t do anything except for hear the Word and believe.

If you can think of any other ways the Age of Accountability is self-defeating, I’d love to hear it in the comments below. There may be more, but these were the three examples that I could immediately think of.

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Small Update

Greetings all. I know I haven’t posted as much lately, but know that I hope to start posting regularly again in the future. Sometimes one needs to step back for a while to reset, refocus, re-evaluate, or sometime just relax. I’m starting to get the bug again and hope to provide more posts in the future. Until then, sit tight.

In the mean time, I’ve noticed that some of my older posts no longer have links in them anymore. I’m not sure what happened, but I noticed that they are all posts that I have re-blogged, so it leads me to believe that WordPress made a change somewhere that broke that functionality. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with them yet. Not sure if I’m going to delete them or just leave them as they are. What I’ll probably do is leave them for the time being and then when I feel motivated, attempt to go hunt down what they were and relink them in a way that WordPress won’t break.

That’s all for now.

 

Your Baptism Now Saves You

The other day, I was listening to the 200proofgospel podcast and they were discussing baptism. They brought up a very interesting point on infant baptism that I would like to expand upon.

There are a lot of protestant Christians who disagree with the practice, despite it being around for roughly as long as the church has. They often claim that baptism is a work that they do and a such, is not salvific. The historic church, on the other hand, does claim that baptism does contain saving grace and is not a work of man, but of God. Listening to the discussion on 200proofgospel, they brought up a very good point. Let’s eliminate all the supernatural reasons for infant baptism and focus on just the tangible reasons. Primarily, death.

Sometimes, there will be a grandmother who was very faithful in the church and her daughter will be having a child. Now, the daughter fell out of the church and hasn’t attended since she was a little girl. Now, the grandmother and daughter want to have the child baptized in this church because of the family history. Mama was baptized there, and so was grandma, and so forth. So the pastor baptizes that baby knowing full well that it will not be raised in the faith and just as predicted, that baby never comes back to church. Fast forward some sixty years and that baby is now an old man dying of cancer. He starts thinking about his need for religion and then goes back to that church and explains to the pastor his troubles and that he was baptized there and develops a bond and is saved. For that man, his infant baptism saved him.

Why?

Personally, I think it has to do with knowledge of history. When death comes knocking at one’s door, the one who has been baptized, has something they can fall back on. Even if they never spent another moment in a church after that, they automatically have knowledge of a place they can go. They automatically have a place they can reach out to. Now, let’s contrast that to the baby who isn’t baptized. They’re sixty years old and dying of cancer. They start thinking about religion, but they really don’t have a place to go. To them, there are just a million different churches and beliefs. That, I imagine, would have to be overwhelming. Despairing. That infant that was baptized, they’ve got an immediate direction. They’re more likely to reach out.

So, ignoring all scriptural reasons to baptize infants, there is still a case to be made to do it. To not baptize infants is to do your fellow man a great disservice.

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Death

For about two and a half months now, the only thing I have been really able to think of is my inevitable death. Every single day. And if I went a time without thinking about it, I’d get happy for not thinking about it, and then that would cause me to think about it. It was a horrible daily cycle. Every time it came to mind, it was with a finality. No heaven or hell. Just nothing. Everything about me, gone. All my thoughts and actions for naught, never to exist further. It was quite depressing to say the least. I would do best to distract myself from my thoughts. Many times I found myself internally yelling at my brain to just “shut the fuck up!” I hate my brain sometimes.

Going to sleep was no fun. Some night I would just lie awake, pondering.

And then, a couple days ago, it just stopped. My daughter was sick with a fever. She was miserable and didn’t want to be alone, so I went up to lie in bed with her to help her sleep. I still had the depressing notion of death and it’s finality of nothing on my mind at the time. And yet as I lay with her trying to comfort her so she can get some much needed sleep, something happened. Just as she dozed off, she said something to me. Now, for what would seem like an epiphany moment, you’d think I could remember what she said, but I can’t. I don’t know why, but for the life of me I cannot remember what she said. I do remember there was nothing profound or even religious about what she said, only that my brain suddenly changed. With her words, I smiled. There is a God and everything is going to be okay.

I know. It sounds blazingly stupid and I acknowledge that. I don’t know what was wrong with me. Perhaps it was a midlife crisis. As I often tell my wife, “I’m half over.” I don’t know what’s changed and I’m smart enough not to trust my feelings, but it’s nice to be okay with death and my destination once again.

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Jack Chick – Apr 13, 1924 – Oct 23, 2016

I heard that Jack Chick died the other day. You may not know the name, but you’re probably familiar with his work. At some point you’ve probably been given or come across a Chick Tract; a little black and white comic about why you’re going to Hell unless you confess that Jesus is your savior. I suppose at it’s most basic level, he wasn’t wrong, just ignorant.

Unlike most people who disagree with his message, I don’t see him as a hateful old fossil but instead someone who is really out of touch with reality; sometimes hilariously so. The message of the gospel he would try to deliver was almost always in the most offensive way possible and I don’t mean offensive in the way that the gospel is offensive. I mean offensive in the way that the issues are discussed without actually understanding the issues or the people in the issues themselves. To the reader, this comes across as hate-filled, racist, or just downright laughable. More often than not, it came across as all three.

Conspiracy theories abound in tracts on Roman Catholicism. Satan gives AIDs to Christian rock bands as a punishment for going gay. Dungeons and Dragons teaches you to kill your family. Blacksploitation. No, I’m not making that last one up. Somewhere along the line Jack Chick thought black people might have difficulty relating to his predominately white comics so he made black versions of many of his tracts complete with jive talk. And yes, I’m reasonably sure these tracts came out well after the ’70s.

The strange thing is, there’s a certain level of honesty to them I can’t explain. Not in how they portray the people and issues, but in Jack’s worldview. This is why I don’t see him as a complete douche (I could be totally wrong here, I don’t know the guy) but instead as someone who genuinely thinks he’s helping people. And that’s kinda tragic because in his misguided attempt at helping people, he’s probably done much more harm than good. I imagine that for every person these brought to Jesus, twenty more were driven away.

Sadly, these tracts can still be found everywhere. Well meaning people find clever ways to hand these out. Invariably, my daughter will get at least one trick or treating this year. Those of us who are older will remember finding them in phone booths. I once found one in a case of beer I had purchased at the grocery store. Most recently, I got one in the mail with my health care check from a Baptist church. I speculate that since my health sharing ministry will allow just about any Christian to join, they may have been worried that they might be sending money to a Roman Catholic, because for what other reason would a Christian send a Chick Tract to another Christian.

I believe Jack is in heaven. Not because his theology was right, but because I believe, as misguided as it was, that his faith in Christ was genuine. I believe that his faith was strong and even though misapplied, it still comes down to faith in the one who came down and died for our sins and that his word is true. Could I be wrong? Sure. I didn’t know Jack Chick personally. I can only speculate based on what I’ve read. But I don’t think he was intentionally malicious. Just paranoid and out of touch with reality.

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What do you want?

I recently listened to the first episode of Fighting for the Faith I have in a long time. I didn’t stop because I grew tired of the program or anything. I just didn’t have time. Sorry, Chris Rosebrough, but when you have a wife and two small children, it’s difficult to fit in a daily two to three hour show. Anyhow, the episode was called Rosebrough’s Ramblings on Coram Deo. At the twenty-five minute mark, he starts discussing Romans 6. In this, he mentions how he was in class with Dr. Rod Rosenbladt and how when the gospel was preached, he was still in his old Nazarene mindset. So he went to Dr. Rosenbladt and said, “You’re saying if I’m saved by grace, I can do whatever I want.”

I’d like to take a moment to point you towards the banner at the top of the page. You’ll notice a quote from Augustine.

Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.

I’ve had that banner up there for quite sometime, since I started the site, really. I just always loved the quote and it made sense, but I never really quite thought about what exactly it meant until I listened to this episode of Fighting for the Faith.

Dr. Rosenbladt replied, “Well of course. Now that you’ve been set free from sin, death, and the devil, what do you want to do?”

And suddenly, it was all so clear to me. I realize that there is a difference between doing what you want and doint what you feel like. Ever notice how actually doing what you want leaves you sense of pride or accomplishment while just doing what you feel like can at times leave you feeling pretty low? I want to help those in need. I feel like drinking all the booze. One of those will probably leave me feeling pretty good about myself. The other may leave me a little disappointed the next day. Romans 7:15 helps to explain.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

When we are in the grace of Christ, all we want to do is what is good. Now, we may feel like doing some pretty awful things from time to time. We may even do some pretty awful things from time to time. But we don’t want to do them. Instead, we want to do what is good. This is where the third use of the law comes into play. It helps to shape the Christian to do what is right.

So as a Christian under the grace of God, by all means, go forth and do whatever you want.

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Putting It All Together

My original title for this was going to be something along the lines of, “Why not Peter with Jesus.” The basic premise was this. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus. Jesus heals Malchus. Soldiers do not arrest Peter and execute him with Jesus. I started thinking about this incident yesterday and how to me Peter not being arrested made no sense and if you only read John, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”[a] Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus[b] said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant[c] and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews[d] arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door.

John 18:3 – 16

Can you imagine that conversation?

Malchus: “Holy crap! That crazy Jew just cut off my ear!”

Soldier: “Stop being such a baby Malchus. It’s just a flesh wound. You’ll be fine.”

Malchus: “Are….are you sure?”

Soldier: “Yes, Malchus.”

Malchus: “Oh, okay. If, if you say so.”

Doesn’t seem terribly plausible does it. But without any other information, what are we to assume? The Romans wouldn’t put up with this. Peter would be right there with Jesus on Cross. There wouldn’t be any ifs, ands, or buts about it. Thankfully, Luke gives us a few more details on the matter.

47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:47 – 54

Okay, Jesus heals the dude. Pretty incredible and it seems plausible that they would be so awestruck by what they witness that they may have forgotten about Peter. Then again, these were Roman soldiers, so it doesn’t seem that plausible.

Soldier One: “That guy cut off Malchus’ ear!”

Soldier Two: “Yeah, but this Jesus guy made it all better.”

Soldier One: “I don’t care! He attacked a Roman soldier and cut off is ear. That’s not gonna fly.”

This conversation seems much more likely, but again, the guards don’t go after Peter. As awestruck as they may have been, there’s still simply no way that they wouldn’t have arrested Peter on the spot. They’d have been all like, “Well, that was cool. Still, we can’t have you running around mucking things up now, can we. You’re clearly a threat to Rome. Off with us you come.” Perhaps one of the other Gospels could shed some more light on the subject matter.

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”[f] Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Matthew 26:47 – 56

Oh, thank you, Matthew. Luke and John suddenly make more sense now. The disciples suddenly running away ties everything together quite well. Peter cuts off an ear, Jesus heals it, and in all of it the disciples scatter. The Roman soldiers are all like, “Wut!?” but in the end, they got what they came for. Malchus is fine and Peter is presumably gone. What are they to gain by sending resources after him? How are they to convince Pontius of using their resources to find him?

Soldier: “They cut Malchus’ ear off.”
Pontius eyes Malchus suspiciously.
Malchus: “I got better.”

When you put Luke, John, and Matthew together, Peter not being crucified with Jesus doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore. Like Chris Rosebrough says on Fighting for the Faith, the three rules for good discernment are context, context, context.

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“It is finished”

This post speaks for itself quite well.

Eilers Pizza

2016-03-23 11.22.22 Christ’s cross, by my daughter, Erin

Among the things that I found myself saying after several years as a pastor regards the character of God, that He is love, and merciful, and generous, and just, and faithful, and when talking about the person and work of our Savior, Jesus, I continually found myself asking, “Who wouldn’t love a God like that?”

To love God, we have to properly understand God. And, in the Lord Jesus’ Good Friday declaration from the cross, “It is finished (John 19:30),” we have the foundation laid for a proper understanding of God.

The problem with us is that we constantly take those words out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus as if He never spoke them, as if He did not complete the work of saving us, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our…

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Daily Edification

A while ago I picked up the Treasury of Daily Prayer. At the time, I had difficulty understanding exactly how I was supposed to use it and eventually, put it aside, practically forgetting about it. In recent months and ever perhaps year or so, I’ve been slowly but surely attempting to simplify my life. It’s been a process, especially after having constantly added more and more into it over the years. However, I’ve been grudgingly re-evaluating my priorities and attempting to get rid of things I do not need or use. A delightful side effect of this is that things that once held great appeal to me hold it less so. When my time is free, I am now less likely to go after the forms of entertainment that I used to (although I still have my programs that I watch and games I like to play).

So when those free moments come, I find myself reaching for those items I have neglected. Namely the Book of Concord and the Treasury of Daily Prayer. Though I don’t get to them every day, I find myself far more engaged in the scriptures and understanding of my theology. Since I have been in the process of simplifying my life, I find I am much better able to focus and understand them, not being distracted my nonsense that may or may not even be there. To put it simply, I am finding it much more edifying that I have in the past. By this I mean I am seeing things that I would’ve simply read but not registered. I am coming to better understanding. As this becomes more habitual, I suspect that I shall better be able to focus on the scriptures directly, though I make no guarantees about Numbers. 😉

I must say, this idea of simplifying my life came from minimalism. Though I am not advocating minimalism (believe me, I am no minimalist), it has a lot of great points. Once I started cutting the crap, I found I could better focus on the things that matter. Things like reading the scriptures and doctrines became a delight instead of a chore. Somehow roughly half an hour seemed to open up for me in the morning even though I still get up at the same time and follow the same routine. I suspect I was on my phone more than I would like to believe. Now when I see that I have time, I will take a bit of time before work to sit down with the Treasury of Daily Prayer or the Book of Concord if I have more.

I generally try to stay away from things that aren’t directly related to theology on here, but in this case I think I’ll make an exception. Cut some of the unnecessary crap from your life. Throw things away. T-Shirts, movies, etc. As stuff goes away, I suspect you’ll find things a bit more peaceful and it will become easier to get some daily edification. We all need it, and most of us don’t get nearly what we should.

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The Things We Get Away With

The other day as I was reading the Smalcald Articles, I came across a verse that struck me as pure truth. It was from the Third Part, Article II, The Law. Specifically it states:

Here we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit. All this failed because of the evil that sin has worked in humanity. For by the Law some people were made worse sinners, those who are hostile to the Law because it forbids what they like to do and commands what they do not like to do. Wherever they can escape punishment, they do more against the Law than they did before. Those are the unrestrained and wicked, who do evil wherever they have the opportunity.

Does the bolded portion not hold true for most? One does something they know is sinful. Uncaught, they are more at ease to do it again when the opportunity arises, sometimes going deeper into sin than previous event. I’m sure we’ve all done it in some form or another. Perhaps in minor seemingly insignificant sins or maybe even in sins that pose a danger to others. Nonetheless, it’s a frightening, yet provoking thought. What do we get away with? Do we even always realize that we’re attempting to get away with something we shouldn’t? Matthew 7:3-5 seems appropraite here.

3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

To see past the logs, so to speak, is difficult when one keeps tripping on them.

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