Late Night Theology, Episode 5: Come to the Dork Side… We Have Jarritos

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In this episode, Logan and Tom talk about Star Wars, Monks, New Heavens and New Earth, and more! Logan goes on a couple of rants and Tom gives some Rogue One spoilers. You don’t want to miss it!

Links//
Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World – David Platt

A Year with God – Richard Foster and Julia Roller

Morning and Evening – Charles Spurgeon

The Life with God Bible

Late Night Theology Audio Archive

T. Austin-Sparks

GoFundMe

Late Night Theology, Episode 4: Christmas & Curse Words

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We have a “Parental Advisory” sticker on the episode graphic. We have included a trigger warning in the description on YouTube, you have no excuse to gasp in shock and awe. In this episode, Logan and Tom talk about the season of Advent and what it means to them, they also talk about an usual Advent devotional entitled “#F***ThisSh*t,” and they also exchange interesting coffeeshop stories. Listen if you dare!

Links//
The Secret of Christmas by Steve Brown

Two Santas: Law & Gospel by Sarah Taras

Martin Luther Yelling About Inferior Anglican Hymns

#F*ckThisSh*t: A Response to the Advent Devotional

#F*ckThisSh*t Medium Page

To Convey A Visceral Gospel, We Must Sometimes Use Visceral Language

GoFundMe
Recommendations for the PG-Minded Fan//
Good News of Great Joy by John Piper

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper

It is HIStory! by Alistair Begg

T. Austin-Sparks

Reflections on the Valley of Vision: Sincerity, Part 1: Some Thoughts on Authenticity

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“You desire truth in the inward being;
Therefore teach me wisdom in my secret being.”
– Psalm 51:6, NRSV

(Full prayer may be read here)

In this post, I mostly want to share some introductory thoughts going into the prayer, and in the next post, I’ll give some personal thoughts and commentary over the prayer.

I don’t know about you, but I have doubts about my salvation. Sometimes the thought plagues my mind that I could be one of those to whom  Jesus says, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who practice evil!” (Matthew 7:23, ISV)

When this happens, I often pray from the Valley of Vision because there are times when I know what I want to pray, but I can’t seem to find the words, and usually when I read the prayers I think, “This is exactly how I’m feeling and this is exactly what I want to say to God.” I had one of those moments this past Sunday as I was flipping through the Valley of Vision and came across the prayer for sincerity. It was so fitting because I believe that God’s people just aren’t authentic enough in their faith.

Not all Christians feel this way. Some people think, I suppose, that we should drink lemon juice for communion so we look holier. Bill Muehlenberg wrote, what I would describe as, an almost scathing article against the idea of “authentic” Christianity. He made statements like, “Forget this foolishness of avoiding hypocrisy by embracing and settling for carnality and second-rate Christianity….Forget this lousy talk about “authenticity” and start talking about biblical holiness.” Now, all that talk of ‘biblical holiness’ sounds nice to the red tie-wearing, conservative, church goer that arrives to worship 15 minutes early every Sunday, makes sure they always have the same spot in the sanctuary, but reality is that biblical holiness is not something we can accomplish in and of ourselves. Holiness is given to us in Christ. That’s the only way one can reconcile Ephesians 2:8 (“by grace you are saved and not of works”) and Hebrews 12:14 (“without holiness no man shall see the Lord) without believing that you can lose your salvation or that you have to finish the work of salvation.

We’re not perfect. We struggle. We fall. We sin. And we have a tendency to hide behind a mask and we may (intentionally or unintentionally) lead people to think that we’re better than what we are. Dr. Steve Brown said “Christians are masters at hidden agendas and masks” and I couldn’t agree more. We all have a mask that we like hiding behind because it’s comfortable so that’s when I read the prayer for Sincerity in the Valley of Vision, I feel convicted of my sin and yet at the same time I’m comforted because I access to the Father by His grace so I don’t have to wear a mask in front of Him. He knows how bad I am and He loves me anyway.

There’s no reason to have a mask on before the throne of grace. Jesus has seen all the ugly parts and He’s not going anywhere. In Hebrews 13, the writer reminds his audience in verse 5 that Jesus has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and then in verse 8 the writer says boldly that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Life is unstable and the challenges that we face in life can cause us to become unstable, but Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus is stable foundation you can build your life on. Trust Him.

Resources:

The Valley of Vision

Agendas and Masks by Steve Brown

Hidden Agendas with Steve Brown

And if you thought the Muehlenberg article was bad, check out “Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness?” by Brett McCracken on The Gospel Coalition.

Exegesis and the Small Church Mentality

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“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” – 2 Timothy 4:2, NIV

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” – 2 Timothy 4:2, KJV

It was exactly 4:30 PM on a Thursday night, laying on my bed, listening to Radio Free Geneva where he was talking about how politics not impacts exegesis, but determines exegesis in Southern Baptist congregations and when I heard these words come from Dr. James White’s mouth, and I instantly gave him an audible “Amen.” Actually, it was more like an “A-f***ing-men.”

White said that you shouldn’t underestimate the power that politics plays in determining exegesis of Scripture in the Southern Baptist Convention. I resonated so well with his comments because I saw this first hand, but not in the SBC. Let me stop here and explain. I spent 3 years in a reformed (lower case ‘r’) Southern Baptist Church where the politics wasn’t necessarily an issue, but they definitely had some horror stories to tell from the SBC church that they came from before planting their church. Where I mostly saw politics play a role in exegesis was these small, non-denominational, Pentecostal, and Free Will Baptist churches. So, that told me that this wasn’t a problem that was limited to any denomination or any particular theological movement. This is something that’s going on in smaller churches, and not all smaller churches either, but I’m willing to bet about 90% of all churches with an active membership of 50 people or less.

Most of the time (not always, but most of the time), if you see a small church there’s a reason why it’s small – hardly anybody wants to go to a church where the sermon is about “the evils of socialism” every freaking week. We, as Christians, believe (or should believe) in a fundamental separation of church and state. Now, to what extent you believe in that separation is up for debate. Personally, I believe in an absolute separation of church and state because I don’t think God needs the assistance of Christians in the government to rule and reign over the earth that He’s created, but that’s just me. I guess if you don’t think God is doing a good enough on His own, you can keep voting Republican. “Hey God, I saw that the world was to hell in a handbasket so I thought I would give you some help by voting for Trump. No need to thank me, I’m just doing my civic duty.”

Going back to the subject of exegesis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer hit the nail on the head when he said, “The sermon has been reduced to parenthetical church remarks about newspaper events.” Now, if this were true in Bonhoeffer’s day how much more true is it now? Now, like I said, it’s not just small churches that do this. Cornerstone Church in San Antonio is the worst. John Hagee preaches week after week that the government is going to start lobbing our heads off any minute now so we need to start keeping an eye on our dispensational timeline charts to see what chapter of the book of Revelation we’re in this week. Now, I haven’t heard a single Hagee sermon since the election, but I’m willing to bet that since Trump is the President Elect, Hagee is ready to convert to Post-Millennialism even as week speak. There seems to be a trend among dispensationalist to read into the text of Scripture what isn’t there. They do this by comparing Israel to America. They tend to take Old Testament passages of Scripture concerning Israel and saying that those passages apply to America when, in fact, they do not.

This is a common habit among pastors in smaller churches. They tend preach that the physical nation of Israel is still “God’s chosen people” so we should pray for Israel and honor Israel. Then they start preaching about how “evil” it is to not show political support for Israel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting Israel, but it is solely for political reasons. My reasons for supporting Israel have nothing to do with my faith or my interpretation of Scripture. But, these small church pastors are, for the most part, uneducated. They get their learning from watching guys like John Hagee and Perry Stone instead of actually cracking open a reasonable Bible commentary over the book of Revelation. (As far as commentaries go, I would rather a pastor use Wilhelm Brakel’s commentary over Revelation than for them to go by what John Hagee or Perry Stone is teaching, and that’s saying something because Brakel is Postmillennial and I hate Postmillennialism with a fiery burning passion. The only way Postmillennialism makes sense is you’re either a Universalist or if you’re in favor of a Christian version of Sharia Law.)

But I digress, the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms defines “exegesis” as “The act of interpreting or explaining the meaning of verses or passages of Scripture.” So, if this is the true meaning of exegesis, then can we say that a lot of our smaller churches are really exegeting Scripture? I say with a resounding voice, “NO.” When you tell your congregation that America (and the Church) is Israel then you are completely ignoring Romans 9 and you are ignoring the promises of God to His elect people in Ephesians 1 and 2, and there’s no telling how many other passages you’re ignoring.

That’s not even the tip of the iceberg. You’ve got so many other exegetical problems in these smaller churches that it’s unreal. In a lot of churches that aren’t Southern Baptist, you’ve got pastors telling their congregation that they can lose their salvation at the drop of hat. They offer little to no comfort to those of us who struggle with assurance, and they completely ignore every promise of assurance that God gives to His people and say that it only applies to people who “live right.” They make no distinction between law and gospel in their preaching. RJ Grunewald says, “Christians, including preachers, routinely confuse the Law and Gospel, misapplying both. Confusion results: Some needlessly suffer under a burdened conscience as they live under the crushing weight of the Law, while others dismiss the Law (unrepentant sinners) and ignorantly bask in grace they find outside of Christ’s work on their behalf.”

When you step into the pulpit you carry a very weighty task of explaining a text in the context of the whole Bible, and distinguishing between law and grace.

“Rightly distinguishing the Law and the Gospel is the most difficult and the highest art of Christians in general and of theologians in particular. It is taught only by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.” – CFW Walther

If you’ve been able to sit through this angry rant, let me know what you think and let’s talk about it.

Blessings, Logan.

Late Night Theology, Episode 3: Naked People & Sociopathy from a Christian Perspective

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In this episode, Logan retracts some positive statements he made about Tullian Tchividjian from a couple of weeks ago in Episode 1. Tom gives us a rousing mini-lecture about this weird habit that churches have with wanting CEO figures for pastors instead of biblical shepherds.

Remember kids, “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are that it doesn’t give a crap about you because its a sociopath.” – Tom Ellinson

Links//
Partial Timeline of Events

Resource Bibliography

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 1 (There are 5 parts to this story.) 

Do Unto Others

An Expastor’s Ego

A Call to Repentance

Naked Woman Tries to Rob Burger King

GoFundMe

Current Obsession: Kierkegaard and His Love Life

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About every two or three months (sometimes more frequent than that) I’ll get a new obsession that I study and focus on for weeks and sometimes months at a time. Once I was fascinated with Martyn Lloyd-Jones so much that I listened to John Piper’s lecture about his life at least twice a week and I ended up reading his work, Joy Unspeakable  and “The Sacred Anointing: The Preaching of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones” by Tony Sargent. Another time, my obsession was with Charles Spurgeon. I watched two documentaries about his life, read “The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon” by Steven Lawson and I listened to John Piper’s biographical lecture about his life as well several times.

I sometimes wonder if these obsessions are a psychological red flag that I am spiraling towards a mental breakdown where I just snap one day and become a Unitarian, but until I have ample evidence that that’s what is happening I’m going to keep on studying these individuals that tickle my fancy. My current obsession is the life and theology of Søren Kierkegaard. My darling significant other got me a “Kierkegaard: A Single Life” by Stephen Backhouse, and I must say that it is absolutely fascinating.

I think one of the more intriguing things is that Backhouse absolutely captures the heart of Kierkegaard. Most of writings were dedicated to Regine Olsen who never stopped being the love of his life even after their unfortunate break up. Olsen eventually married her old tutor, Johan Frederik Schlegel. Kierkegaard never fully recovered from their break up. He died at the relatively young age of 42 still madly in love with Regine.

Kierkegaard could’ve easily won the affections of other women, but they would’ve all had one common problem. They wouldn’t have been Regine.