Sunday, April 26, 2015

Why I am not a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox

Couple of individuals that led me to from being Southern Baptist to being a Reformed Presbyterian went to be Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.  I understand why they made this change.  Which church should one join?  Look at all the different religious views and practices.  It is all over the place.  The tradition of the Roman Catholic church is attractive to someone who is looking for religious stability.
Think of what seemed to have religious stability in Jesus's and the apostle's time.  Gamaliel in the book of Acts shows someone who was firm in religious convictions.  However, he at least understood that  he might be wrong in those convictions.  He saw the boldness of Peter and the other apostles.  It did make Gamaliel to give the speech that led to letting the apostles go.  He said if it is of men it will fail,  However, if it is of God it cannot be stopped.  The Reformation has seemed to come out of determination that the established religious order is wrong.  Jesus's apostles seemed to have come to go against orthodoxy in their convictions.  Jesus argued that religious order that existed did not honor Moses teaching. Those Pharisees and Scribes did say that they are  in line with Moses and have the proper history and pedigree.  In the same way the Roman Catholic church and Eastern Orthodoxy say they have the proper history and apostolic succession.
When Jesus was confronted about his disciples violating the tradition of the elders  by not washing their hands when they eat bread.  He said these traditions of the elders violated the word of God by saying the one does not owe obligation to his parents if it is given to the religious order. In the belief of the Pharisees and scribes the tradition of the elders was binding on the people of God,  but Jesus shows that this tradition of the elders can violate God's word.  The Roman Catholic church and Eastern Orthodox church say that their tradition is binding obligation.  It should be clear why the Roman Catholic church and Eastern Orthodox church binding tradition looks like the Pharisees and scribes binding tradition.  Jesus makes clear the principle that religious tradition is not by default correct because is established tradition.
Should one join the Roman Catholic church or the Eastern Orthodox church?  They both have historical verified churches that go back to the apostles.    They each say that you have to listen to the church to know and practice the truth.  Do you see the dilemna?  The existence of one cannot account for the existence of the other because their is only one holy catholic and apostlic church with apostlic succession.  There is also the Coptics, Ethopian, and the Aremian churches that have this apostlic succession saying that traditions are binding.  Which Roman Catholic church should one join.   There is the mainline Roman Catholic church holding to Vatican 2.   There are groups that say the the seat of Peter is vacant.   There are groups that say Vatican 2 is not valid inside and outside the mainline Roman Catholic church.  There is a group that says that Vatican 1 is not valid.  There are Catholics that are Arianian in views in who Jesus and God is.  All these would say that one should follow the tradition of the church.  The question is then which church?
Tradition can be a good thing and/or a bad thing.   Church history has shown both things at least by the contradictory views that have been proclaimed throughout time.  Jesus went to scripture to prove his points.  Should we do anything different to know and proclaim the truth?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"Five points of Calvinism"

Is anyone ready for a God that demands praise to be sincerely from the heart?  Is anyone ready for a God that has that praise be a part of His eternal plan?  Yes, if God makes one ready to praise Him for His glorious Grace.
 I had a discussion with an unbeliever about sovereign grace.   He said that idea would be great for those who would have the positive benefit from it.  However, it would be really bad for one who is not predestined to heaven.  Obviously, He considered the idea unfair.  Now, before I was talking to him about sovereign grace in particular.  He said he wanted to believe in the Bible God, but he could not.  He thought such a God sounds wonderful.  However,  his tone changed when I started describing the sovereign grace of God.  His idea of the Bible God was a misunderstanding on how God operates and what kind of God that there is.  Once the information about was conveyed the Bible God did not seem so attractive to him.  
The god in our bible belt is not the God of scripture.  My unbelieving friend was so happy with idea if he became a Christian he would be well received in the bible belt.  I told him that we Reformed Presbyterians are not so well received in the "bible belt."    That is particularly true when we discuss certain things like sovereign grace.   They do not say simply that is an interesting idea, but we do not think it is biblical, though.  There is much more emotion tied to the detailed explanation of sovereign grace, usually.  Whether in a church or out of church the gospel is hated even in the bible belt. God must change the heart to believe the truth.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Take up your cross and follow Christ

Celebrity is shunned among the reformed.  There is much that is wrong about celebrity.   However, Jesus became a celebrity with his miracles and preaching.   Many televangelists have garnered celebrity status.  However, where they are different than our Lord is they do not drive the crowds away with truth.  Rather, they find ways to assure that the crowds remain.  Our Lord did utilize the means of becoming a celebrity. but he drove the crowds away, also.  John 6 he talked about eating His flesh and drinking His blood that drove the entire group away except His immediate disciples.   What is different about reformed pastors?  They only know how to run crowds off.   Our Lord gathered them and ran them off.    The balance to this in our day would be the radio ministry idea I have.  It would help gather the crowds then you reformed pastors can run those crowds off.   However, out of those crowds there maybe some of God's elect that will stay.   We reformed should not fear celebrity.  We should not fear taking up the cross to follow Christ.  Celebrity for a really righteous reformed preacher may lead to problems like our Lord had.  Is that what you reformed ministers fear about holy celebrity?  Then are you reformed preachers really taking up your cross and following Christ?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Further thoughts about Presbytery doing a territory wide media ministry

Pastors need help in educating their own congregations.  If they can go refer their congregations to a more localized media ministry that pastors could have a part in developing and sustaining.  Pastors could be in control of the outcome better.  People are looking at the internet a great deal.  They might as well as look at their pastor's sermons being preached than many other things.  It would be good for them to listen to other minister's sermons within the Presbytery, also.

Facebook, as I understand it, one can advertise locally to every Facebook account holder in a given area.   Facebook has become widely used as a place to present messages and receive messages.  If my radio ministry idea was to come fruition video from a call in talk show would be put up on in certain area on every Facebook account holder news feed section everyday.  If this is done consistently many people will listen and watch the programming.  It may lead some people to actually to start attending a local reformed Presbyterian church.  Google could be utilized perhaps even for localized outreach also.  I will check about Google, also.

Former pastor of Covenant Presbyterian in Jackson, TN is now pastor at Westminster Presbyterian in Rock Tavern, NY Kevin Chiarot is on the radio some with Redeemer Broadcasting in New York.  He has his sermons on a couple times a week.  Also, he has been on with Dan Elmendorf to talk about his book Shepherding the Wind.  It is his sermons he did at Covenant in Jackson, TN over Ecclesiastes in book form.  I have talked with Dan Elmendorf the head of Redeemer Broadcasting in Olivebridge, NY.  They are local focused in their outreach to their communities.  I think that Covenant Presbytery should have him brought down to speak to a Presbytery meeting to speak about what Redeemer Broadcasting is doing in New York.  I will go further and say maybe he needs offered a position of starting a radio ministry in our part of the country.  Those New Yorkers took Kevin Chiarot away from us.  Maybe, we can take Dan Elmendorf away from them.  I am sure their would be someone who could step into the position he has currently has.  This is some thoughts to consider for the members of the Covenant Presbytery.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Communicating the Gospel to all kinds of People in our territory

                                          Communicating the Gospel to all kinds of People
The limitations of the Gospel communication in our day and age are virtually gone.  Do you want to evangelize the whole world?  It is easier than every.  Worldwide on the internet is one way.  Yes, it takes money and/or special attention getting content to garner much attention.  Going "viral" content may happen or not to have a great deal of attention to a message, but imagine this God calls churches to evangelize.  If churches chose to utilize and maximize their resources including money there could be spiritual awakening and reformation like there has not been in the world before.  Think, if the apostle Paul had internet, radio, television as available resources what would he be doing with such resources.   He planted churches all over the area of land in which the country of Turkey is now without such resources at hand.  He did not even have the printing press.  The reformers at least had that to work with.  If it was not for the printing press the reformation may not had happen like it did.  Martin Luther read a printed copy of the Greek New Testament to come to his theological conclusions.

Now, the printing press was invented around twenty years or so before Luther's 95 theses.   We are now twenty five years or so from the invention of the internet.  It has advanced and evolved since then in many ways.  Radio, although, has been around as we generally understand it for seventy five years or so.  It has become a great place to communicate extremely important ideas including religious convictions.  Television which is harder to define now.   Anything with video and/or motion picture and audio transmission to a electronic device with a viewable screen and speakers is television loosely defined.  The company Youtube has shown this idea without a doubt.   Radio even if there is an over the air signal usually has programming on the internet.  There also "radio" on the internet with audio only programming on websites.

Although, there is some use of these outlets among those who are reformed.  The means of communications are vastly under utilized for God's glory and our enjoyment of him.  We are accountable to our neighbors to explain the gospel and invite them to come worship God in spirit and in truth.  However, we must find places that they are actually paying attention to our Gospel communication.  They are staring at their smart phones all day.  That is where they are paying attention to something in our day.  We need to go were they are paying attention.  Who should we present messaging of the Gospel to?  Local churches should focus their energies on the entire population of their assigned territories.   In the Presbyterian system of government a set of churches have what is called a Presbytery.  That is a set of churches that send their elders to cover a particular territory.  The presbytery has oversight of churches in that given territory.  It has authority to start new churches  in that territory.

What if a presbytery decided to authorize a radio ministry that is promoted on websites that are widely viewed such as Facebook and Google? The radio ministry would be a television ministry and internet ministry all at the same time.  There would video of in studio programming and video of preaching and teaching of ministers and Sunday school teachers.  Why have video along with audio? It is because certain people  might pay attention more with video along with audio.  Many radio stations are now several stations  in one.    They share the building, studios, and tower, but each "station" has it's own programming, over the air frequencies, distinct websites, and call letters.   Individual churches could pay to have access to already existing stations with different over the air frequencies and websites with live programming.  Presbytery could have access to several stations in various locations within the presbytery territory because of internet access ease the programming could be all the same.  Such ministries would be to potential grow the numbers of existing Presbyterian churches and to start new churches in the Presbytery territory.  It would to educate Christians inside or outside membership of Presbyterian churches on various Bible content.

I would like reformed Presbyterians to give me your thoughts about this idea.