Fuller & Inability: A Rejoinder to Tom Nettles

Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller

Other Posts in This Series:      Part 1;       Part 2;       Part 3;       Whole Paper.

Recently, I published a Centrist response[1] to Dr. Tom Nettles’ series of articles on Andrew Fuller.[2] He has replied to that critique, but only in brief comments (one initial[3] and one final[4]). I had hoped he would step up to the task of a substantive engagement. Be that as it may, I will in this rejoinder address his comments and show the continuing inadequacies of his defense.

Dr. Nettles states:

I agree [...] that human sin in the fallen state is certain. I also agree that Fuller resisted capitulating to any concept of mechanical, or natural, necessity or impossibility in the issue of sin or, on the other hand, of faith and repentance. I disagree with [Hamrick's] argument that certainty in the area of moral choice is substantially different from moral necessity. He states, “The philosophical lens of Centrism is that of a determinative certainty. In other words, God determines all things by making all things certain, but not necessary.” Given the entire fabric as to how humans make decisions in light of the inflow of motivations to the understanding, and that it is impossible to demonstrate that any decision ever goes contrary to the prevailing motivation, then how to separate certainty from necessity in this moral realm I must leave to Mr. Hamrick for I cannot do it. He must argue for contra-causal choice, which I don’t suppose he will want to do; or he must say that one’s choice has no cause at all, which will immediately contradict, in both of these cases, our Lord’s description of the human heart as the fountain of all moral choice.

Contrary to Dr. Nettles, in this moral realm, necessity can be distinguished from certainty as surely as sovereignty can be distinguished from justice—as surely as might from right. Continue reading

Reason for Hope in the Ebola Outbreak | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

TGCSeveral days ago I wrote an article on the outbreaks of Ebola. Today I want to provide an update on the current crisis. In the middle of the panic related to the spread of the virus, I want to share with you as an infectious disease specialist some encouraging news that call us to peace without yet claiming victory.

About a month and a half ago, a patient with Ebola coming from Guinea entered the country of Senegal. Known methods of infection control isolation were put in place, and 42 days later (double the amount of time needed for the incubation period), Senegal has not seen a single case of Ebola after this first patient. Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Senegal free from Ebola. Continue reading →

Heart Faith and Deep Change | Founders | The Blog

Tom-Nettles-Formal-98x98Both in preparing to write these blogs and in preparing to teach a course on American revival, I have spent some time with the sermons, theology, and revival lectures of Charles Finney. He is a fascinating read. I find some things well said and edifying—truly and clearly put in the defense of truth. He had no low views of the necessity of repentance and of a heart-felt submission to God and faith in Christ. Belief unaccompanied by zeal for God and mourning for sin was not saving belief. His arguments against atheism, infidelity on the issue of biblical inspiration, and his assault on Unitarianism and Universalism can find, with exceptions to some arguments, resonance among all evangelical Christians. His synthesizing of the indications of general revelation with the facts of special revelation provides an instructive method of doing theology. On other issues, however, such as regeneration, atonement, election, the entire system of imputation, the persevering nature of true saving faith, the human will, and the relation of holiness to salvation, I find him a puzzle and positively dangerous. Continue reading →

You Need a More Ordinary Jesus | Christianity Today

Christianity TodayWe are united with a Christ who seems not to have done much of note for most of his life.

I was in youth group when I first heard that God had an extraordinary plan for my life. This plan would include seeing revival, winning converts, helping the poor, and traveling overseas to preach the gospel, dig wells, and serve orphans. I attended youth conferences like Acquire the Fire where I learned what it meant to be an “on-fire-for-God” Christian, and was then sent out to be—in the words of Delirious?—a “history maker.”

The idea that I had an incredible destiny was only reinforced by my own study of Scripture. When I read the Book of Acts for the first time as a senior in high school, I concluded that the lives and habits of the first Christians were the norm. Like Jesus, they healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, opposed corrupt power structures, and preached to the masses. As Christians, our lives should take on the same quality as Jesus’ right?

Right. But could it be that the Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus of history, is less extraordinary than the Jesus of Christian conferences and our guilty consciences? Continue reading →

Southern Baptists: Let Your Voices Be Clear in Houston and Beyond | Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie FloydIn an unprecedented action on October 14, the city attorneys of Houston, Texas, subpoenaed sermons and other communications from selected pastors who opposed the city’s HERO ordinance (formally called “Houston Equal Rights Ordinance”). This ordinance bans discrimination “on the basis of protected characteristics” in “city employment, city services, city contracting practices, housing, public accommodations, and private employment” (City of Houston, Texas, Ordinance No. 2014-530).

Then on Friday, October 17, the city’s mayoral office revised the subpoenas, removing the word “sermons”; but other communications by these pastors are still targeted by the subpoenas. On Saturday, October 18, the Houston Chronicle reported, “The subpoenas now seek ‘all speeches or presentations related to HERO or the Petition’ the pastors delivered, revised, approved or have on hand.”

Regardless of the nature of communications they want from the pastors and churches, this is a blatant example of governmental overreach and is a clear attempt to silence the voice of the Church in Houston, Texas, America, and the world. Continue reading →

Is the Ebola Epidemic Evolution in Action? | Answers in Genesis

answers-in-genesis-logoby Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, Dr. Georgia Purdom, and Dr. Tommy Mitchell on October 20, 2014

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has already claimed over 4,000 lives—more than all previous Ebola epidemics combined—and it is showing no sign of slowing. The first (and we hope the only) Ebola death on American soil occurred in Dallas, Texas, on October 8, 2014. Two nurses who cared for that patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, soon developed Ebola. In Spain a nurse exposed in Madrid to a priest who contracted Ebola in Africa recently developed Ebola.1 These incidents represent the first time Ebola has been transmitted outside of Africa.

In the past, outbreaks have remained geographically confined to the regions where the organism that harbors them lives.2 Why is this one different? Is Ebola wielding the power of Darwinian evolution over medical science? Continue reading →

Growing Up Evangelical: My Story of Making Peace With Evolution | The BioLogos Forum

Brad Kramer

Brad Kramer

My short presentation tonight is titled, “A personal story from a Millennial.” Ironically, as I wrote this speech, an article popped up on my news feed by Relevant Magazine called, “15 books Every Christian Millennial Has Owned.” Initially, I was offended at being stereotyped, and then I read the article and realized I owned every single one of the books. Christian Millennials are a much more diverse bunch than we are given credit for, but I have found that there is a shocking amount of consistency in our experiences–especially among those who grew up in the golden years of conservative Evangelicalism. While my Millennial friends have landed all over the religious landscape, not one of them thinks that we can ever go back to the simpler world of VeggieTales Christianity. What we need is a way forward.

I say all this to frame my own story as a Millennial, because I hope my own journey can help others realize that the way forward for the evangelical church is not only possible but deeply exciting and interesting. Continue reading →

Seven Good Things about the Houston Subpoena Controversy | THOM RAINER

Thom RainerI share the outrage of millions who were stunned when the city of Houston issued subpoenas to five area pastors. The subpoenas ordered the pastors to submit their sermons in regard to litigation against a new Houston Equal Rights Ordinance’s protection based on sexual orientation.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and others involved in this debacle are certainly disregarding the very heart of the First Amendment. In recent days, the mayor’s office seems to be distancing itself from the subpoena controversy. There is little doubt, however, that the mayor and her team have disdain for many churches and Christian leaders. Continue reading →

Calvinism’s New Birth Analogy is Unconvincing! | SBC Today

SBC TodayRonnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK

This article seeks to address the question: does physical birth demonstrate the Calvinist idea that faith precedes spiritual birth? Calvinists argue that the new birth (regeneration) precedes and provisions faith,[1] whereas I contend that faith precedes and provisions the new birth. Calvinists frequently seek to demonstrate their belief by employing an argument based on the analogy between physical and spiritual birth. They thusly claim that just as man did not contribute to his physical birth, he does not contribute to his new birth; hence, regeneration precedes faith. I find the Calvinist analogy to be both unnecessary with regard to the creation of life and dis-analogous to the relationship of faith to the new birth, which is the point of the analogy.

I find it to be unnecessary with regard to the creation of life, new or otherwise. Here I gladly agree with my Calvinist brothers and sisters that man did not contribute to his human birth (creation), and therefore, analogically, he does not contribute to the new birth, the creation of his new spiritual life. Continue reading →

The Christian Political Conundrum | Reformation21

Rick Phillips

Rick Phillips

I was privileged today to have lunch with a Republican US Senator at a small gathering of evangelical pastors.  It was quite enjoyable to interact with a politician who has absolutely no fears of losing his election and therefore is willing to say what he really thinks.  I would sum up his message this way: he and the party have to make compromises in order to win elections and we Christians have to compromise with him because the consequences of losing are too terrible to bear. Continue reading →

We are the Church | A. W. Tozer

tozer-devotional-large

When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from its long Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in it again as of old. Yet we must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church [...] Continue reading →

Churches Speaking for the Unborn | TGC | Kingdom People

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

The abortion debate is heating up in my home state of Tennessee. In a few weeks, voters will affirm or reject this amendment to the state Constitution:

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

The amendment is a long time coming. In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court in a 4-1 decision swept away a number of common-sense abortion restrictions in favor of a perceived Constitutional right to privacy, a decision with implications that exceed even the limits of the Roe v. Wade decision. Continue reading →

As Ebola crisis depletes food supplies, Baptists find ways to fill the gap | Baptist News Global

bng-logoIn Liberia, hard hit by the virus, the economy spirals downward and food is increasingly scarce.


By Robert Dilday

A week after Baptists around the world responded to a West African request to pray for victims of Ebola in the region, Baptist groups in Virginia and Texas are addressing another critical aspect of the epidemic — the depletion of food supplies.

Recent reports by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank warn that Liberia — hardest hit by the virus — is descending into what the Washington Post called “economic hell.” Continue reading →

Sexuality and Silence | 9Marks

I’ve heard rumours of a silent trend beginning to take hold in some city churches in the UK and the US. I don’t just mean a trend that takes hold silently; presumably most trends do that. I mean a trend toward silence: a decision not to speak out on issues that are considered too sticky, controversial, divisive, culturally loaded, entangled, ethically complex, personally upsetting, emotive, likely to be reported on by the Guardian or the New York Times, uncharted, inflammatory, difficult, or containing traces of gluten. Since I do not attend a city church, but am a proud member of the backward bungalow bumpkin brigade, this is coming to me secondhand, and it may turn out to be a storm in the proverbial teacup, or even (for all I know) entirely fictional.

But let’s imagine that there were such things as well-written booklets which had been discontinued simply because they were about sexuality, and leaders who were avoiding making any public comments at all on controversial ethical issues, or churches whose lectionaries or sermon series were systematically avoiding passages which addressed pressing contemporary questions, presumably in the name of being winsome or wise or likeable or culturally sensitive, because of the number of Influencers and Powerful People in the area. Without knowing any of the behind-the-scenes discussions that had taken place—all well-intentioned, I’m sure—what would I say then? Continue reading →

Jesus Doesn’t Fail: An Interview on Definite Atonement | Desiring God

David Mathis

David Mathis

It is, by far, the most contested of the Five Points. And confusion over the term makes it all the trickier.

“Limited Atonement” is the middle letter in TULIP, but as author and pastor Douglas Wilson explains, that name might give the wrong impression.

“The problem with ‘limited atonement’ is that it makes everybody think ‘tiny atonement.’” And, of course, no good Christian wants to cast the cross-work of Christ as diminutive.

The better term, says Wilson, with a growing number of voices, is “Definite Atonement.” Same doctrine, better name. This way of putting it emphasizes the extent of Jesus’s accomplishment, rather than its restriction.

Jesus Doesn’t Fail: An Interview on Definite Atonement | Desiring God.

Sermons Are “Fair Game” in Houston — The Real Warning in the Subpoena Scandal | AlbertMohler.com

Albert Mohler

The scandal over the subpoenas issued to several Houston-area Christian pastors continues, even after the city refiled legal documents, removing the word “sermons” from the demand. They have clearly not removed the scandal from their city, and from the administration of Mayor Annise Parker. As the mayor’s own comments make abundantly clear, she stands at the center of the scandal.

When news broke earlier this week that the attorneys working for the City of Houston had issued subpoenas to pastors for sermons, I was fairly certain that some mistake had been made. When the actual text of the subpoena came to me, I could hardly believe my eyes. Here was a legal demand, sent to Christian pastors in the name of one of America’s largest cities, to surrender “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO (an anti-discrimination ordinance), the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.” Continue reading →

“Creationism Is About … ” Well, the Bible! | Around the World with Ken Ham

answers-in-genesis-logoAccording to a science and religion blogger with the not-so-reliable Huffington Post, the evolution/creation debate is not about science or even the Bible—it’s about gay marriage! Well, that’s certainly news to me!

Writer Paul Wallace claims that he could never understand why creationists reject the “tsunami of unambiguous evidence that forces us to believe in a 14-billion-year-old cosmos; in a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth; and in the long slow evolution of creatures.” Of course, he doesn’t provide any of the scientific evidence that supposedly makes up this “tsunami of unambiguous evidence,” he just merely expects his readers to accept that this evidence is there. He then goes on to say that he suddenly realized why biblical creationists reject all the supposed “evidence”—it’s because the real issue is not science, it’s gay marriage. Continue reading →

The Healthy Elder Board Is a P.C. Elder Board | TGC | Pure Church

Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile

The abbreviation “P.C.” has an almost universally negative connotation. We hear “P.C.” and we think “politically correct.” Being “P.C.” is synonymous with cultural capitulation, a kind of cowardice that refuses to call things what they are.

If that’s all the letters “P.C.” could stand for then we’d be right to suspect a “P.C. elder board” of unfaithfulness and ineffectiveness. But, thank God, there are other words for which “P.C.” can stand. And some of them actually help us define what a well-functioning eldership looks like. In general, I think we need “P.C.” elder teams. Here’s what I mean.

Personal Commitment

The first thing Paul mentions in his list of elder qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 is “desires to be an overseer.” He calls such desire “a noble thing.” Continue reading →

Can revival come? | SBTS Southern Blog

Billy Graham

Billy Graham

I recently asked a university president what he thought was the greatest need of our hour. And after careful consideration, the president responded, “I may surprise you, because I’m not a religious man. But I believe that the greatest need we have at this hour is a spiritual awakening which will restore individual and collective morals and integrity throughout the nation.” I agree with that.

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord comes: And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:16-21, KJV). Continue reading →

Six Ways to Experience the Presence of the Spirit | J.D. GREEAR

J. D. GreearWhat does experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit feel like?

A friend once told me about a Christian singer he knew who rented a recording studio. After an extensive setup and sound check, she began performing her first song. The sound technician thought it sounded great, but about hallway through the first verse, she stopped abruptly, threw up her hands, and said, “It’s no use. Turn it off! He’s not here.”

The sound tech said through the studio mic, “Uh…Who’s not here?”

Him,” she said, “the Holy Spirit. His presence—it’s missing.” She called a few friends into the studio, and they commenced to laying their hands on various pieces of equipment, praying for God’s presence and dabbing the equipment with oil. Continue reading →

Drop pastor subpoenas, Texas AG to city atty | Baptist Press

Baptist PressHOUSTON (BP) — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott called on Houston city attorney Dave Feldman Oct. 16 to withdraw subpoenas requiring five pastors to submit their sermons to his office in regard to litigation against a new Houston Equal Rights Ordinance’s protections based on sexual orientation.

The pastors are part of a petition effort to repeal the ordinance, known as HERO among its supporters.

“Your aggressive and invasive subpoenas,” Abbott wrote in the letter addressed to Feldman, “show no regard for the very serious First Amendment considerations at stake.” Continue reading →

Ebola and Sacrificial Love: How Early Christians Handled Plague | DownshoreDrift

Alan Cross

Alan Cross

With Ebola coming to America and fear gripping the nation (or, at least the media), I thought that it would be helpful to look again at how early Christians addressed sickness and plague. I wrote about this in my book, When Heaven and Earth Collide, and also printed this excerpt a couple of months ago when Ann Coulter was criticizing Christian missionaries for going TO Africa. Coulter said that they should have stayed here and attended to American needs. She was incredibly short-sighted, though. The sickness over there came here anyway.

When I think about how we should address a plague or an epidemic, perhaps the example of the early Christians is one that we should consider. Instead of seeking to save our lives and run away from the danger, maybe we should seek to serve others and be agents of healing. Even if we lose our lives, we have gained eternity. Can Christians be part of the solution here? Continue reading →

Houston, We Have a Constitution | Moore to the Point

Russell MooreDuring the 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy traveled to Houston to assure Baptist ministers there that he was, in fact, committed to religious liberty and separation of church and state. The fear was that he, as a Roman Catholic, might not recognize those principles. He did. Turns out, the Houston ministers should’ve been less worried about the Vatican and more worried about, well, Houston.

Reports coming out of Houston today indicate that city attorneys have issued subpoenas to pastors who have been vocal in opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure which deals with gender identity and sexuality in public accommodations. Continue reading →

Eight Trends about Church Members on Social Media | THOM RAINER

Thom RainerOn a few occasions, I have addressed the topic of church leaders on social media. I obviously have a fascination with this form of communication. Indeed, I see it as one of the great modern-day vehicles for good or harm.

In this post, I address eight trends related to church members who use social media, specifically in relation to the churches where they are members. As a note of clarification, most of my data comes from Twitter and Facebook. There are, obviously, many other types of social media.

Here, then, are eight of the trends I see: Continue reading →

How to Respond When “Darkness Is Your Closest Friend” | J.D. GREEAR

J. D. GreearWe might be surprised to find that a lot of the Psalms–most of them, in fact–are written in the midst of a terrible situation. Reading through the Psalms, it often seems like there isn’t any possible way the story will turn out well.

Nothing epitomizes that like Psalm 88. In this Psalm, we see one of the darkest and most raw expressions of despair in all of the Bible. Even a cursory look at Psalm 88 shows the depths of hopelessness the psalmist is experiencing: He is overwhelmed with troubles. His life draws near to death. He is like one without strength. He is set apart with the dead. He feels like God has remembered him no more. He finds himself in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. He has experienced personal betrayal (v. 8), chronic pain (v. 15), and unthinkable loneliness (v. 18). The final line sums up the dismal tone of the psalm as a whole: “Darkness is my closest friend.”

Even though many of the Psalms are laments, they nearly always have a turn halfway through where the psalmist has a change of heart. Continue reading →

The Wonder-Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles (Interview with Jared Wilson) | Credo Magazine

Credo MagazineThere is never any shortage of fascination with the supernatural. Be it in, or outside of the evangelical world, the miraculous is something we simply can’t ignore. For some it becomes an obsession, while for others it feels safer to pretend it doesn’t exist. For Christians, the subject of miracles is one we should seek to rightly understand, specifically in the context of the Gospels. To this end Jared Wilson has contributed a winsomely and worshipful work which helps us do just that. I was privileged to ask him a few questions about his latest title, The Wonder Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles and the all-important subject it explores. After reading this interview, I highly recommend you pick up a copy for yourself and wonder at our Wonder Working God. Continue reading →

Should I Have Dinner with BioLogos? | Around the World with Ken Ham

answers-in-genesis-logoI have been invited to dinner. BioLogos published an article this week with the following headline: Ken Ham, We Need a Better Conversation (Perhaps Over Dinner?)

But should I go to this proposed dinner?

Dr. Deborah Haarsma, president of the theistic evolution organization BioLogos, was responding to my recent blog about statements made by Dr. Hugh Ross (known for aggressively disseminating a compromise view of Genesis called progressive creation) on a Canadian talk show, where he was discussing his new book.  (AiG writer/researcher Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell also published a review of Hugh Ross’s new book on our website.) Continue reading →

Celebrating Creation: A Conversation with BioLogos | Between The Times

SEBTSTwo weeks ago I attended a “Celebrating Creation” conference hosted by the BioLogos Foundation. As many readers know, BioLogos is an organization of evangelicals who accept theistic evolution (or evolutionary creationism, EC, as many prefer to call it). Evangelicals hold to a wide range of views concerning creation and evolution, and I’ve had the privilege of engaging with a number of groups representing positions across the spectrum, including intelligent design proponents (ID) and old-earth creationists (OEC). Similarly, I’ll always be grateful to Answers in Genesis (a young-earth creationists organization, YEC) for the opportunity a few years back to float down the Grand Canyon on an eight-day rafting tour and hear them present the case for the young-earth view. Personally, I hold to old-earth creationism. I affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve and believe the original couple were the special creation of God. When the invitation came from BioLogos to attend this event, I was glad to take part. I’m thankful to Debra Haarsma, Jeff Schloss, and Jim Stump of Biologos for the opportunity. Here are a few of my takeaway thoughts.

1. BioLogos deserves a place at the table, taking part in the conversation. Continue reading →

‘The Islamic spectrum': from radical to moderate | Baptist Press

Baptist PressNASHVILLE (BP) — A range of news items from ISIS beheadings to Muslims buying Christian church buildings illustrate the “competing streams” within Islam and the divergent theology of moderate and radical Muslims.

“There are and have been competing streams, ideologies within Islam from the earliest moments,” Islamic studies professor J. Scott Bridger of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press. While all forms of Islam run counter to the Christian Gospel of salvation through Christ alone, “some of them are subversive to democracy” and do not provide for freedom of religious expression.

All Muslims believe in God and the prophet Muhammad, and they advocate such practices as fasting during the month of Ramadan and giving to the needy. But beyond that, various groups of Muslims hold divergent theological and ethical systems — and they all find passages in the Quran that reflect their approach.

On the violent end of the Muslim spectrum, ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq released a video Oct. 3 showing the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning. Continue reading →

What Should Evangelicals Make of the Rome Synod on the Family? | Moore to the Point

Russell MooreA Catholic friend texted me this morning: “Any Baptist churches have services in Latin? Asking for a friend.” I texted back, “No, but the Feast of Saint John the Baptist lasts all year long.” His was a sort of gallows humor, as he watched with dismay what some are calling a “pastoral earthquake” in the Roman Catholic Church on questions of marriage and family.

We don’t yet know exactly what the report means, but reports indicate that the synod is asking for a more “pastoral” and “more inclusive” approach to cohabiting couples, same-sex partners, and others, while retaining the traditional Catholic views on sexuality and the family.

Should all of this even matter to those of us who are Protestants? Continue reading →

Where Did Ebola Come From? | Answers in Genesis

answers-in-genesis-logoby Dr. Andrew Fabich on October 13, 2014

Several months ago, friends of mine were planning a trip to Liberia. They were just about to head over when they got the news that there was an Ebola outbreak. At the time, they contacted me to find out just how safe or unsafe it was in Liberia. They knew more about what to expect on the trip to Liberia, but they were unsure of what to expect in terms of Ebola infecting as many people as it had. At the time, the death toll was in the hundreds (recent estimates suggest that the death toll is over 4,000).1 I began trying to help them understand a few things about Ebola so they could make an informed decision. Since that time, I have noticed a number of websites have arisen with misinformation and sensationalism that misleads the public about how severe a threat Ebola is. Continue reading →

So, 35 Years Later, What’s Happening in the Southern Baptist Convention? | Deep in the Heart…

Lee SaundersIn 1979, I had just graduated from college, and for the first time, would attend the Southern Baptist Convention as a messenger.  I’d been a couple of other times before, but never as a voting participant.  Of course, the 1979 gathering, in the Houston Summit Arena, now used by Lakewood Church as a worship venue, turned out to be a major turning point in the denomination’s history.  At the time, it was viewed by those inside and outside the convention as the “splitting” of America’s largest non-Catholic denomination.  As it progressed, it became quite clear that the sides, labelled “conservative” and “moderate” by the media, were not equal in terms of number, support, and ability to use the convention’s relatively backward, provincial system for selecting leadership.

There were cracks and flaws in the denominational structure long before the “controversy” became front page news in 1979.  Arguments over Biblical interpretation, the degree of Biblical authority which was reflected in the denomination’s doctrinal statement, the Baptist Faith and Message, at the crux of the argument, whether or not the Biblical text, in its original form, was without error.  While the moderates claimed that it is irrelevant to declare originals which are no longer in existence, inerrant, conservatives insist that since the process of translation and transmission is incredibly accurate, an inerrant original is vital to the substance of the scripture, and ultimately to what is believed and taught about Jesus himself.

What transpired, which is seen by some as remarkably complex, is actually pretty simple. Continue reading →

For West pastor and family, new home means recovery | ABPnews

bng-logoJohn Crowder, pastor of First Baptist Church in West, Texas, was among the last to see his family’s home rebuilt after a fertilizer plant explosion flattened it in April 2013. He and his church have been busy making sure others got into their homes first.

By Jeff Brumley

It’s much quieter these days in West, the tiny Texas town partially flattened by a deadly fertilizer plant explosion in April 2013.

Gone are the convoys of semis and church trailers hauling debris and construction supplies, lawn equipment and food. Missing are the masses of teen, middle-aged and senior citizen volunteers, decked in fluorescent T-shirts, wielding shovels, wheelbarrows  and coolers filled with ice water.

And most of the residential mowing and weed-eating nowadays is being done by local residents, not visitors from Oklahoma, Arkansas and other parts of Texas and the nation.

But another sign that West is moving on from the blast that killed 15 and injured 226 is that John Crowder and his wife, Lisa, are set to move into a newly constructed home on their lot of some eight years — probably this week. Continue reading →

Why I Publish the “Know Your Southern Baptists” Series | TGC | Kingdom People

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

Over the weekend, I was tagged in a Facebook conversation. Anthony Bradley was lamenting my “Know Your Southern Baptists” series for making TGC lean too heavily toward Southern Baptists, because there is no comparable series for Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc. This charge caught my attention since Christianity Today’s recent profile on me in their millennial edition mentioned this as a distinctive element of my online work:

While other young Christians may be casting off denominational identity, Wax celebrates the legacy of the SBC with his blog series Know Your Southern Baptists, featuring the church’s pastors, authors, and musicians.

Anthony is a writer I pay attention to – a mix of insight, wisdom, and all-around feistiness that makes him always interesting to read. So, since I was part of “instigation tagging” – a new phrase that popped up in the comment thread (yes, Anthony, please write about this new phenomenon!), I thought I’d jump in and explain the rationale for the “Know Your Southern Baptists” series. Continue reading →

What is Contextualization? Presenting the Gospel in Culturally Relevant Ways | The Exchange

The Beauty of the Moment | DownshoreDrift

Alan Cross

Alan Cross

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭16‬:‭11‬ ESV)

Every moment has the potential to be bathed in the presence of God where there is fullness of joy. God has a “path of life” for us that leads us beside still waters and green fields where He gives us rest and restores our soul (Psalm 23). Oh, how we need soul restoration. Continue reading →

Origin of the Soul: A Defense of Paternal Traducianism

Was your soul newly created for you by God, or was it passed down to you from the previous generations, much like your DNA was, and originally came from Adam? This may seem an obscure question, but it is actually foundational to most of theology. Whether or not you have ever considered the question before, the theology that you hold has built much of its doctrinal understanding upon an assumed answer to this question—and most have assumed that the soul is newly created by God in every case. The paper that follows is an excerpt of a much larger work in progress, entitled, Restoring Reality to Redemption.  There is heavy emphasis on Turretin, since I have not found a more thorough argument than his. [Note: Although early theologians, such as Turretin, refer to the “soul,” it is in a dichotomistic way that is interchangeable with “spirit.” Early tradition used the term, “soul,” almost exclusively to refer to the immaterial component of a man, reserving the term, “spirit,” for the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this was to avoid confusion between the Holy Spirit and the human spirit. The Bible does use “spirit” as well as “soul” when referring to man’s immaterial component or nature (the inner man as opposed to the outer man). Both words are used interchangeably throughout this book, except where otherwise specified.]

[20,000 words] The spirit is what make us most like God, and makes us everlasting beings. “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” The spirit is the image of God in man, unlike the animals who have no spirit and do not worship or rebel against God. The spirit was breathed into Adam by God in Gen. 2:7. But the human spirit was never meant to exist without a body. The body was designed for the spirit’s habitation, and it has a brain fitting for use by that spirit. It is here, where the physical and spiritual meet that we find the mind of a man. And it is the mind that is most closely represented by the idea of a soul. Although the soul often is used of Scripture to refer to the whole man, it is by metonymy (using a part to refer to the whole). The soul being the mind, which both worships God and controls bodily systems, is the conjunction of the physical and spiritual in a man, and encompasses all that we are as an individual personality, including all of the memories of our experiences in life, stored in the cells of our brain. Continue reading

Review of Hugh Ross’s Navigating Genesis | Answers in Genesis

answers-in-genesis-logoDr. Hugh Ross’s Navigating Genesis: A Scientist’s Journey Through Genesis 1–11 is, sadly, a great tool for steering the uninformed and the gullible into a shipwreck of faith, not for removing stumbling blocks to faith as Dr. Ross misguidedly attempts. Guided by his devotion to the secular dating methods, Dr. Ross distorts the Bible’s claims about our origins and early history while misrepresenting much of the secular science from which he claims support. By Navigating Genesis with Dr. Hugh Ross, the casual reader—Christian or not—can be sure of emerging from his voyage laden with burdensome baggage: a chaotic mix of misapplied science, straw-man arguments, dubious apologetics, ignorance of what creation scientists actually claim, a creative but incorrect approach to reading the Word of God, and a bizarre re-interpretation of the Bible that bears little resemblance to what God actually says. In short, a reader seeking guidance from Dr. Ross, upon disembarking from Navigating Genesis, may well know less about secular science, less about the Bible, less about our history, and less about our Lord than before starting the ill-advised trip. Continue reading →

John Piper and Definite Atonement | Part Two | SBC Today

SBC TodayDr. David L. Allen | Dean of the School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Definite Atonement & the Free Offer of the Gospel.
Piper asserts his belief that the free offer of the gospel to all people is one of the “benefits” or “intentions” of God in the atonement (657-664). Scripture teaches the “free offer” of the gospel to all. But this is not something that the atonement itself “accomplished,” especially on Piper’s view of things. In fact, this is one of the key problems with definite atonement and is one of two main reasons why so many in the Reformed tradition like Bruce Ware (see Part 1) reject it (the other being the exegetical evidence is clearly against limited atonement).

Piper correctly states that Shultz argues one cannot preach the gospel sincerely to all people on the platform of definite atonement: “If Christ did not pay for the sins of the non-elect, then it is impossible to genuinely offer salvation to the non-elect, since there is no salvation available to offer them” (658). Piper takes strong umbrage at this claim. We need to note that this claim articulated by Shultz has been made by many in the Reformed tradition since the days of the ascendency of limited atonement in the late 16th century.

Piper, quoting Roger Nicole, totally misses the point of Shultz’s argument: “if the terms of the offer be observed, that which is offered be actually granted” (658-59). Continue reading →

The Danger of Overconfidence, Part 2 | Grace to You

by John MacArthur

A gun-toting, beer-drinking, foul-mouthed “pastor” recently made headlines when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. In an emotional apology to the church, he confessed he had been abusing alcohol for years.

While the extent of his drinking had been kept relatively private until then, he had built both his reputation and his church on the extreme exercise of his Christian liberties. In an article published just days before his arrest, he made no attempt to hide his drinking, his filthy mouth, or any of the other worldly aspects of his life and ministry—on the contrary, he celebrated them. His moral collapse is a powerful example of the danger of overconfidence and failing to biblically limit one’s liberty. Continue reading →