Archive for the ‘hypocrisy’ Tag

Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself   7 comments

Image result for image of donald trumpIf politics flows downwards from culture, then it was only a matter of time before a politician mastered the role. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump cracked that code.

Tony Soprano, Walter White, and Frank Underwood are just a few recent examples of the enormously popular characters who have, each in their own way, stood in for the role of the complicated bad guy who fascinates millions of Americans.

Source: Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself

Posted February 16, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in politics, Uncategorized

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Limiting Fellowship   Leave a comment

I believe, because I have seen it work, that limited fellowship should be extended to brethren who have drifted into the kinds of error we’ve been discussing.

What do I mean by limited fellowship?

In some instances the local churches these people are members of should discipline them and, if necessary, even withdraw fellowship from them. This is not done very often and, sadly, the congregations themselves frequently are led into the errors of these individuals.

But what can the larger Christian community do when a church will not discipline its wayward minister? Though formal withdrawal of fellowship is principally a congregational matter, fellowship extends further than the local church, so limitation of fellowship can also go beyond the local church.

When the Southern Baptist Convention voted to disfellowship New Heart Community Church it was withdrawing its financial support and disallowing its delegates to vote in the convention. While Pastor Danny Cortez had a point about churches that allowed their pastors to officiate at remarriages after non-permitted divorces, he had the Godly instruction backwards. We are not to embrace such immorality, but discipline it when it occurs in the churches. If churches would cease to support teachers who go into error, some of the rogues might be brought to repentance. Certainly their influence could be curtailed.

My husband Brad is a recovering alcoholic who will point out that Alcoholics Anonymous is not anonymous for the drinking drunk. If you’re not involved in AA, you may not realize that. If you’re off the wagon, they do not protect your anonymity. They will tell your pastor, your wife, your boss that you need help. They will call the cops if you’re driving drunk. It is only when you are sober that they will refuse to even share that they know you.

Churches really need to remember that. AA got it from us, by the way. Bill W. talked about it in his book. Yet, these days, when Christians face unsound teaching from the pulpit or Christian pen or open immorality in a church, we all get quiet and pretend it’s not happening. A form of discipline can be exercised by making the brotherhood aware of the sinful situation.

Christians have a right to know where a teacher or preacher stands on fundamental issues before they use his services. Some brethren complain about the “gossip journals” that are devoted exclusively to digging up church dirt and sometimes that’s justified, but more often than not, there’d be no muckraking if there was no muck.

If more responsible brethren would muster the courage to kindly and forcefully chastise erring teachers, there would be no need for the world to take Christians to task for our hypocrisy.

If Christian schools, churches, and journals would cease to use men and women who are openly known to advocate radical ideas or cause division, it would send a message. A preacher with no audience, or a writer with no readers, doesn’t have nearly the power of one who is being listened to.

This is not a call for head-hunting. We should not withdraw from every Christian who may disagree with us regarding various points of Bible interpretation. That’s a fanatical approach that has fragmented churches and made Christianity a reproach before an unbelieving world. But it is equally foolish to shut one’s eyes to blatant false teaching that undermines the spiritual and moral foundations of the churches. When the Bible says stay away from certain doctrinal aberrations, we should.

Church discipline needs to be exercised in love, but love needs to be tough. Discipline doesn’t need to be abusive, but it does need to interrupt the influence of evil coming from supposedly Christian pulpits and pens in the hope that it might lead to repentance or that the false teachers will at least be identified as false and no longer considered Christians.

If the churches truly want to be relevant in a sinful world, we need to start by taking the logs out of our own eyes before we try to deal with the dirt in the eyes of non-Christians.

Objections to Church Discipline   6 comments

The Bible is quite clear on the obligation of Christ’s churches to practice discipline upon unrepentant members. Still there are those who will argue against the responsibility, who will even assert that withdrawal of fellowship is a violation of New Testament principles.  Some common arguments offered are:

“No one is worthy to disfellowship another.”

No one is perfect, so no one really has the right to initiate discipline against another is how this argument goes. John 8:7 will commonly be cited as a proof-text for this idea: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” That’s a woeful misuse of this passage.

First, the Jews had brought a woman to Christ whom they claimed to have taken in the very act of adultery. They wanted the Lord to sanction her death. It was a trick to get Him in difficulty with the Roman authorities, but it also violated the Old Testament, which clearly required that both parties in an adulterous union be executed. By bringing only the woman, the Jews ignored the very law they pretended to honor.

Jesus knew that, by the way!

Christ’s statement designed to highlight this inconsistency. To employ it as an out-of-context proof-text goes against many plain commands obligating the church to discipline the wayward members.

Secondly, Paul was not “without sin,” and yet withdrew himself from evil brethren (1 Timothy 1:19, 20) and from Peter when he sinned in Antioch. One does not have to be sinless in order to honor the Bible teaching on this vital theme.

“Leave the tares for God.”

I posted recently about the weeds in the wheat in the kingdom of God. Called “tares” in the King James, we are instructed to leave these weeds alone as God will exercise his own discipline (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) at the judgment.

Again, that argues agains the clear Bible instruction given elsewhere. The parable of the tares is simply designed to inoculate against violent and premature attempts to completely purify the church on Earth. It has nothing to do with the genuine practice of brotherly discipline.

“Judge not!”

Wow, what an overused statement used to undermine the churches at every turn! Some contend that church discipline would be a form of judging, a practice which the Bible condemns. The plain truth is, not all judging is wrong!

Jesus declared: “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). In Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians, he clearly stated that he had “judged” already the incestuous brother (1 Corinthians 5:3). He then subsequently asked these brethren, “Don’t you judge those within the church?” (5:12). Church discipline does involve a form of judging, but it is not the unjustified, hypocritical judgment that is censured by Christ in Matthew 7:1-5.

“Where is the love?” Doesn’t love win?

There are some who argue that if the church withdraws fellowship from the erring, it is demonstrating a lack of love. That is an incredibly superficial view regarding love these days that speaks glaringly of vast Biblical ignorance.

Discipline does not repudiate love, it reflects it.  “Those whom the Lord loves, he disciplines” (Hebrews 12:6). When ancient Israel went astray, Jehovah withdrew His presence from them for 70 years (the Babylonian captivity). Was this an indication of an unloving disposition?

If you are a member of a congregation which practices church discipline, you ought to thank Almighty God that you have the privilege of belonging to such a loving family!

“What about the other guy?”

I know lots of people who resist church discipline because there are others they deem just as bad or worse and, they will point out insistently, they haven’t been disciplined. The therapists call that “rationalization” and blame-shifting.

Yeah, the churches as a whole have been remiss in their duty to provide discipline for decades. Some churches are inconsistent in providing it. That does not mean that changes for the better cannot be made. No sane person would argue: “We were wrong in the past; let us therefore always be wrong.”

Second, whom and when church discipline should be administered will frequently be a matter of leadership judgment. Some brethren may not know all the facts behind decisions concerning withdrawal or other forms of discipline. There may be extenuating circumstances that are not general information.

The fact is that church history speaks here. Loving discipline was as much a trait of the primitive church as correct worship and organization. Given that, we ought to be asking ourselves if a church that utterly refuses to practice discipline truly be a New Testament church?

For the Love of Happiness   Leave a comment

Blind spot ignorance causes a lot of car accidents and they’ve wrecked many a Christian life. The blind spots that are common among the churches today involve sexual immorality, including adultery.

Make no mistake. God makes a Christian marriage and when both partners are Christians, there is no divorce recognized. You can dissolve the human contract, but not the covenant made between you and God.

Amy Grant exhibits the blind spots of our modern society as it affects the churches and so, it may seem unfair, but she’s the example we’re going to use. When Amy divorced Gary Chapman, she explained that she didn’t take divorce lightly. They’d been through lots of marriage counseling and it just hadn’t produced what she had hoped it would produce. Chapman didn’t want the divorce, saying he was an old-fashioned guy who believed marriage ended with death do us part – a quaint notion found in Romans 7:2-3. “By law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adultress.”

Chapman held to this standard, believing it to be spiritually healthy, while Grant felt the main point of marriage is thriving together and enjoying one another. She quoted a counselor who told her that “God didn’t create this institution of marriage so He could just plug people into it. He provided this so that people could enjoy each other to the fullest.” Grant took this as permission to end her marriage.

Removing the marriage as a pathway to happiness for the individual sounds like really pragmatic advice, until you look at the facts. Large scale studies have compared unhappy spouses who divorced or seperated with unhappy spouses who chose to stay in unhappy marriages and found no great difference between the two groups in terms of happiness.Researcher Maggie Gallagher observed:

[M]ost of the unhappy spouses who avoided divorce did not stay trapped in misery. Two-thirds of unhappy spouses who stayed married ended up happily married five years down the road.” Most unhealthy, unhappy marriages heal and become happy only if both spouses are committed to hang in there long enough to work through their differences.

The counseling profession includes some compassionate, wise, Bible-based therapists, but (my observation based on 15 years in the field), many counselors do more harm than good. Some see divorce not as a problem but as a normal event.

“It is time to move beyond thinking about the divorce rate as an indicator of a social disorder that must be reduced. Divorce should be regarded as one of the “normal social events in the life course of modern families.“ (William Pinsof, a marriage therapist and editor of a journal on family counseling)

Such thinking is too common among marriage counselors. Maybe that’s why marriage counselors themselves have a divorce rate that is higher than almost any other profession. Why work to preserve a marriage if you see divorce just one of those “normal social events“ that modern families ought to expect?

Christians should know that God hates divorce, but do we understand the full reason why? It’s not because divorce is painful  to spouses and children. It is! My husband went through five divorces with his parents. Trust me, it’s painful! But that’s not the reason why God hates divorce. Remember, He is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God hates divorce because divorce defies God’s commands and breaks a solemn covenant designed to demonstrate God’s own faithfulness and love of Jesus Christ for His church. Marriage is about more than helping two individuals flourish and be happy together. That’s a side blessing when and if it happens.

Marriage is about being faithful to each other no matter what, out of obedience to God and a desire to reflect His faithfulness in our own lives.

Therefore, a marriage is not finished just because one or both spouses is unhappy. It’s not done because a number of counseling sessions occurred without doing much good. A marriage begins with a vow before God and with two bodies becoming one flesh. God designed the one-flesh union of sex and He expects us to take it seriously.

“What God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6 – that’s Jesus speaking). God takes sexual union seriously. He also takes promises seriously. “It is better not to make a vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not protest. My vow was a mistake. Therefore, stand in awe of God,” (Eccleasiastes 5:5-7)

If marriage is just a matter of happiness and friendship, then why bother promising to be faithful “for better or for worse, till death do us part“? Why not say instead, “I promise to stay with you as long as you make me happy and we feel like friends, and as long as we don’t have problems too serious for counseling to cure.“ If that’s how we really see marriage, then we should say so and not make false vows. We should say what we mean, and mean what we say. If we promise “till death do us part,“ we had better mean it.

The modern mentality, fostered by many counselors and therapist, says that marriage should continue only if both partners are enjoying each other and flourishing together. In this mentality, we assume that the only way a marriage can last is if it brings enough happiness and doesn’t bring too much struggle. We also assume that if we do have trouble and spend some sessions with a counselor, then we’ve done just about everything that can be expected, and if we’re still not happy, it’s time to end the marriage and move on. This mentality is a huge blind spot for many people. It’s out of tune with God.

Public Hypocrisy   Leave a comment

Amy Grant sold more than 20 million albums of contemporary Christian music. Amy was married to Gary Chapman, a fellow Christian musician, for 16 years and had two children with him. Her fans were stunned and saddened when she announced that she was divorcing him. For a while her album sales remained brisk, even though there had been rumors prior to the divorce that she and Vince Gill might be committing adultery. Amy assured her fans that her friendship with Gill, who was married at the time, had nothing to do with her divorce. And maybe that’s true.

It does not matter.

Whether or not Vince Gill and Amy Grant had sex while either of them was married to another person is not the issue, and in fact, I wish them well in their marriage. I mention their divorce and remarriage because they are a very public example of something altogether common in churches today … divorce and remarriage. About 25 percent of people in North America have been through at least one divorce.

Grant and Gill are indicative of the evangelical blind spots in our understanding of the Biblical stand on marriage and divorce.

  • Blind Spot #1 – If you feel unhappy in a marriage and counseling doesn’t make the marriage happy, end the marriage and move on.
  • Blind Spot #2 – If you can’t stand living with your spouse and decide to separate, you are free to start over with someone else. Even if the divorce itself is wrong, once the damage has been done, it’s okay to remarry.

While Vince and Amy show a lot of hubris in their attitudes, their views are not uncommon. They’re shared by millions of ordinary people.

I think we need to look at what the Bible actually says because the church is told to judge without hypocrisy, but we have failed to recognize our own hypocrisy. That doesn’t mean we should be silent, but that we should be honest.

The Elephant in the Churches   3 comments

Matt and Molly had a huge truth to consider. 

Sexual immorality in the church is a symptom of a root issue. Matt and Molly and countless other Christian couples who are having sex without benefit of Christian marriage are suffering from something other than the enjoyment of sex. (And, yes, suffering from something you enjoy is a paradox, but an important one to recognize).

Our society has lost the concept of giving ourselves to a concept greater than ourselves. The churches have been affected by that. We no longer see the incredible adventure of serving Christ with all of our passion as a good thing. We no longer see Biblical rules as existing for our ultimate benefit. We think we’re being denied physical pleasure, which is held up by our society as a primary goal, because God is mean rather than because God wants what is best for us.

The divorced couple, the teenagers on a date, the homosexuals, the partners of two marriages who feel themselves attracted to one another, the adult who finds him or herself attracted to a juvenile — all these people want the enjoyment of intimacy in the way that they define ultimate pleasure and none of them will ever successfully say “No” unless they have a higher reason to claim their allegiance.


We sin because we don’t have anything better to do. I’m not just talking about sex. There’s a whole panoply of evil inclinations and behaviors that capture our attention when we’re bored. We will justify anything we can think of simply to keep ourselves occupied. David sinned with Bathsheba because he didn’t have anything better to do at the time (read 2 Samuel 11 before you disagree). We focus on the adultery, but the real issue was his boredom. My husband Brad drinks when he’s bored and he becomes bored when he stops doing what God has called him to do. He’s got time on his hands, so why not fill it? (Because he becomes a jerk when he drinks). The same goes for the churches and the collective individuals who make up the myriad congregations. We have time on our hands; how can God deny us some pleasant distraction from our spiritual boredom?

Because Christians are called to do something greater than the world. Be honest! The world is dying around us. Terrorists are lopping people’s heads off in the Middle East. About 10% of the American population is addicted to alcohol and about 25% are addicted to some other substance. Our kids are committing suicide. We are aborting babies. How many wars in the United States involved in now?

The world needs Jesus and it needs Christians to bring the gospel to hurting people. Instead, we kick back in our comfortable homes and watch the latest cool television show while the world is dying. When we get bored, we scratch that itch, thinking it doesn’t matter because the world says sex outside of marriage (or gluttony, or cheating on one’s business partners, or looking at pornography, or … name that sin) is normal, but on a much deeper level, it matters so completely. What you do impacts your walk with God, your relationship with one another, the standard you set for your children, and — OF GREATEST IMPORTANCE — your testimony to other believers who may be struggling in the same area of sin and the world, which is indeed watching to see if what we believe makes a difference in the way that we live.

If we live like the world, how will the world ever see the life-changing power of Jesus?

Matt and Molly got married some weekend last summer. They spent their honeymoon working with Worldbuilders in Alaska. They were able to afford to do that because they sold Molly’s house and thereby eliminated those “financial considerations”, but more they were able to it because they eliminated the previously unrecognized (but still felt) Holy Spirit’s conviction in their lives by aligning their own interests with God’s will.

When Moralism Goes Off the Tracks   Leave a comment

I was not raised in a Christian home, so my entry into church life was not without stumbles. Some of those stumbles are illustrative of the difference between a living faith and a stagnant moralism.

I grew up in a family of people who liked to dance, drink alcohol and play cards. During my first couple of years attending a Southern Baptist church, I learned that Baptists “don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t play cards and some of them believe rock music is evil.” My friends and I quietly agreed that we couldn’t really find any of those restrictions in the Bible, though there are plenty of warnings about excessive drinking to be found. When I met my husband, he instigated our attending some charismatic services and then we heard that praying in tongues, lifting your hands in the congregation and prophesying were violations of God’s word. He and I, after some struggle and confusion, finally agreed that we couldn’t find those exact restrictions in the Bible.

I am not picking on Southern Baptists alone. Many churches take on moralistic stances that cannot be found in the Bible. Southern Baptists are right on somethings where other churches are completely ignoring the Bible. I’m using these examples as illustrations. A Brethren friend one time told me that music in the church was evil. Again … moralism in place of faith.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

The Galatian churches had a problem. When the missionary team from the First Baptist Church of Antioch, Syria, swept along the coast Asia Minor, those who accepted Christ from that ministry spread the gospel to the hinterlands and founded churches throughout the region. These were Gentiles, coming out of a pagan background. Unlike in Antioch where there was a mix of Jewish and Gentile Christians, these churches were almost wholly Gentile or god-fearers (Gentiles who had some connection with Judaism). Paul and Barnabas moved on. Not long from when they got back to Antioch, men from the church at Jerusalem arrived (uninvited) to instruct the Gentile believers in how to good Jews – starting with circumcision and Jewish dietary rules. Paul got into a squabble with Peter and then decided this needed to be discussed by the larger Christian community, so he and several others went to Jerusalem to report on their missionary success. Peter, apparently chagrined over what Paul had said to him, gave an impassioned speech urging Gentiles be admitted to Christianity. After some deliberation and talking to Paul, the elders in Jerusalem decided that Gentiles did not have to become Jews to be Christians.

This didn’t stop the ones who became known as Judaizers from going into Asia Minor and preaching that Christians had to keep the Jewish law. Paul wrote his letter to the Galatian churches to explain why this was not so. I’m sure there were churches that chose the Judaizers over Paul’s freedom in Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. There are things that Christians shouldn’t participate in because participation in sin separates us from God. But there are many things that the modern-day Christianizers have deemed immoral that aren’t.

Jesus turned water into wine and it was GOOD! (John 2) If you can drink without getting drunk or damaging His temple that is your body, God has no problem with it. Conversely, if you have to get drunk or your body suffers negative consequences from drinking, you are sinning if you drink.

King David danced in the presence of the Lord — more or less nude (think Charleton Heston in Planet of the Apes). (2Samuel 6)  Yes, there are ways to dance that honor God and ways to dance that incite lust. My daughter the ballet dancer would be glad to discuss the distinction.

They didn’t have cards back in the Biblical times, but they did cast lots. It’s how the apostles determined a replacement for Judas (Acts 1). Blowing your paycheck on games of chance is wrong for other Christian reasons, but there’s no evidence that gambling is banned in the Bible.

I never could figure out why Baptists thought rock music was so bad, but country music was okay. Maybe they missed all those songs about bar room brawls.

Speaking in tongues and prophesying are in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14, with — notably 1Corinthians 13’s love chapter sandwiched between). Both must be decently and in order so as not to scare visitors, which was what Paul had against the Corinthians for conducting their church services with them. The practices themselves were not and are not the problem. The organization of those practices is at issue. People raising their hands in the church service is fine (we do in ours — a Southern Baptist church!) so long as it is not distracting to the people around you.

So why are modern-day moralists so keen on going after people for doing things the way they were done in the Bible?

In a word – Control.

It’s Not a New Struggle   Leave a comment

Since the moment Adam rejected a relationship with God so that he could be “like God”, human beings have been kind of stupid. We really don’t know what we’re doing, but like toddlers we demand to be allowed to do it “ourselves”. God gave Israel the Law as a revelation of His character — singular, personal, exclusive, worthy of worship, faithful, true, needs nothing outside of Himself. It was meant to provide a means to reveal the impotence of morality and to evidence the inability of natural, fallen, sinful man to express the character of God on our own.

After he became a Christian, Paul could still see the Law as good, holy and righteous (Romans 7:12-13) because it flowed from God, not because it makes anyone “good” or “righteous” because in reality, it only shows how unrighteous we are. Paul denied that the Law could ever express the goodness of God.

Truth be told, the natural religious man doesn’t like “grace” and “freedom”. It takes away our control. Even in the 1st century, the Christian churches had to deal with moralists attempting to impose Judaic religious guidelines on the Gentile Christians, trying to supplement the gospel of grace with external morality. Paul stood against it loudly, insisting they were teaching “another gospel” that was “not gospel at all”. (Galatians 1:6-10).

The early Church fathers (the Apostolic Fathers in some traditions) wrote in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, the earliest extant writings of the post-New Testament churches. Regrettably, just one generation away from the apostles, their primary concerns were moralistic conformity, emphasizing external conduct rather than the internal spiritual guidance of God’s grace.

“What occupied the foreground of their (Apostolic fathers) thought was how they were going to walk in the way of this life, and conform to its high standards. So concerned were they about right and wrong behaviour that everywhere they were driven into legalism and formalism. The Christian ethic was codified, and the charismatic life under the constraining love of Christ reduced to rules and precepts. Law and obedience, reward and punishment, these were the themes of their preaching. The centre of gravity was shifted from the mainspring of the Christian life in the person of Christ Himself to the periphery of outward conformity and daily behaviour.” (Thomas F. Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. 1948. pg. 139.)

In the early 4th century, the church began to integrate with the state, resulting in authoritarianism, with hierarchial leaders issuing absolute decrees of moral formulations that they themselves did not follow.

The Reformation may have started out as a faith movement, but quickly reformed the moralism, John Calvin’s very rigid system of moralism shows the failure of reformers to fully grasp the redeeming nature of God’s grace through the living Jesus.

So when we relate to the world, we tend to foist our social moralism upon society rather than introducing them to the free gift of salvation that has the power to transform our lives.

“[P]erversion of making the gospel into law in order to respond to the challenge of successive outbursts of immorality and ethical disorder. Naturally Christians and the church could not fail to react to violence and sexuality and corruption. The mistake was to deal with these on the moral and legal plane instead of following the example of Paul, who always works through the moral question to the spiritual question, gets back to the essence of the revelation in Christ, and from this derives some models of conduct that are consistent with faith and love. The church did not do this. It set itself on the same level as the world and treated moral matters on the moral plane. When a political question is treated merely as a political question, and a social question merely as a social question…the gospel becomes morality with a whitewash of theological terms.” (Jacques Ellul, The Subversion of Christianity. pg. 89.)



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