Archive for the ‘General’ category

The opposite of “glorify God”=”lighten up”

July 10, 2007

It’s the stereotypical “deep” philosophical question. You’ve probably heard characters on TV shows ask it with the assumption that it cannot be answered. It’s the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

By God’s grace, the Reformed believer is not stumped by this question, for God’s Word has given us an answer for why we are here, and this answer is the first thing a child learns when receiving a Reformed education. So, to answer the question, “What is the meaning of life?” or, “Why are we here?” the response immediately comes: “To glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to enjoy Him for ever (Psalm 73:25-26).”

This answer is not confined to a specific culture, for the second Scripture proof in the statement above (Psalm 73:25-26) was penned by Asaph, a chief musician for David, an Israelite king who reigned from about 1011-971 B.C.; the human author of the first Scripture proof (1 Corinthians 10:31) was the Apostle Paul, a Greek-educated Jew who wrote from Ephesus in Asia Minor some time in between A.D. 54-57. These texts can be wedded together in harmony without confusion, reflecting timeless Truth, for their ultimate Author is God Himself.

We know that our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever because we have been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26) to rule as His stewards over the earth. As divine image-bearers, our purpose in God’s universe is to be a reflection of His purpose in the universe. And what is that purpose? … God’s purpose in His universe is to magnify His glory and enjoy Himself forever. As Pastor John Piper noted at the New Attitude Conference last May: God is working to magnify His glory in Creation (Isaiah 43:6-7), Incarnation (Romans 15:8-9), Propitiation (Romans 3:23-26), Sanctification (Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Peter 4:11), and Consummation (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

When we say that our purpose or meaning in life is to “glorify God and to enjoy Him forever,” most people have a fairly good grasp on the meaning of the word “enjoy.” People naturally enjoy many things, so the only question is whether one’s enjoyment ultimately flows from and is directed toward enjoyment of God.

The word “glorify,” however, is almost entirely unheard of outside of church contexts, and so most people do not have much awareness as to its meaning. Even for Christians, this word can just be an empty sound if we fail to reflect on what it is intended to communicate.

“Glorify” is the verb form of the noun “glory,” which translates the Hebrew word kabod, meaning “weight” or “heaviness.” This word speaks to heaviness in terms of dignity, and indicates a radically humbling emotional impact on any who encounter true glory; as seen, for example, in the experience of the Prophet Isaiah, who, when encountering the glory of God, began to call down curses upon himself for his sin (Isaiah 6).

This word also speaks to the power of God throughout His creation. In the passage cited above, the seraphim declare that the whole earth is full of God’s glory. This declaration is in keeping with the Psalmist’s testimony that nature is constantly proclaiming God’s handiwork (Psalm 19:1-6). Whereas the atheist tries to assert that there is no proof of God and whereas we might fail to discern His invisible presence, the kabod– the glory, “weight,” or power of God is ever impacting the world around us, holding all things together and directing all events according to His purpose. We glorify God by recognizing His presence, dignity and power, and by loving Him with all our heart, soul, and might (Deuteronomy 6:5). In this way we see that glorifying God and enjoying Him are intimately connected. For the simple recognition of or even subservience to the fact of God’s glory does not glorify Him if we resent His dignity and power. It is only as we love or enjoy His glory that mere acknowledgement is transformed into “glorifying.” (more…)


T-shirt annoyance

May 30, 2007

The T-shirt design pictured here, though it’s been out awhile now, is (I think) becoming more rather than less popular. Based on the people I’ve seen wearing it and the people who think that it’s cool, the point of wearing the T-shirt seems to be that people are trying assert that Calvinism and Arminianism are really two ways of looking at one truth. Notice, however, that the shirt is actually making an argument for Arminianism (to say that “this shirt chose me” is ridiculous). Notice, also, that this T-shirt is appropriate-


  1. You are very Man-centered
  2. You believe God is as impersonal and impotent as a T-shirt

My Chronological Compliation of the Calvinism Controversy in the SBC

May 28, 2007

It’s a work in progress, I know.  But I thought this might provide a little historical perspective and why SBF exists today.  To download a PDF of my research go here

This project is ongong, so if you have any information, articles, or research that could help fill in any gaps in my chronology, please let me know.  And those of you who take a look at it, let me know what you think.


Jerry Falwell (1933-2007)

May 16, 2007

We at SBF want express our condolences to the Falwell family, Thomas Road Baptist Church, and Liberty University in the passing of Dr. Jerry Falwell. Though we have strongly disagreed on certain theological points, we have an even stronger confidence that our brother is beholding the face of our Savior. May God grant comforting grace and strength to those grieving and celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Falwell.

What others are saying . . .

Television Evangelist Falwell Dies at 73 (Associated Press)

Dr. Albert Mohler in The Washington Post The Legacy of Dr. Jerry Falwell

Billy Graham Jerry Falwell: Man of God

SBC Leaders Voice Appreciation for Falwell

Tom Ascol Jerry Falwell, 1933-2007

Tim Challies Jerry Falwell (1933-2007)

Jason Robertson Falwell: He Lived What He Preached

Ben Cole Farewell Falwell

David Wayne On the Death of Jerry Falwell

Baptist Press Jerry Falwell Dead at 73

Rev. Jerry Falwell Passes Away (Blogger News Network)

World Mag’s Gay Group to Stage Falwell Anti-Memorial

UPDATE: centuri0n A Thought to Think

About Jerry Fallwell (from his website):

At the age of 22, having just graduated from college in June of 1956, Jerry Falwell returned to his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia and started Thomas Road Baptist Church with 35 members. The offering that first Sunday totaled $135. Falwell often says about the first collection, “we thought we had conquered the world”. Today Thomas Road Church has 24,000 members and the total annual revenues of all the Jerry Falwell ministries total over $200 million.

Within weeks of founding his new church in 1956, Falwell began the Old-Time Gospel Hour, a daily local radio ministry and a weekly local television ministry. Nearly five decades later, this Old-Time Gospel Hour is now seen and heard in every American home and on every continent except Antarctica. Through the years, over three million persons have communicated to the Falwell ministries that they received Christ as Lord and Savior as a result of this radio and television ministry.

In 1967, Falwell implemented his vision to build a Christian educational system for evangelical youth. He began with the creation of Lynchburg Christian Academy, a Christ-centered, academically excellent, fully accredited Christian day school providing kindergarten, elementary and high school. In 1971, Liberty University was founded. Today, over 21,500 students from 50 states and 80 nations attend this accredited, liberal arts Christian university. Falwell’s dream has become a reality. A pre-school child can now enter the school system at age 3, and 20 or more years later, leave the same campus with a Ph.D., without ever sitting in a classroom where the teacher was not a committed follower of Jesus Christ.

Falwell is also publisher of the National Liberty Journal, a monthly newspaper which is read by over 200,000 pastors and Christian workers, and the Falwell Confidential, a weekly e-mail newsletter to over 500,000 pastors and Christian activists.

In June 1979, Falwell organized the Moral Majority, a conservative political lobbying movement which the press soon dubbed the “Religious Right.” During the first two years of its existence, the Moral Majority attracted over 100,000 pastors, priests, and rabbis and nearly seven million religious conservatives who mobilized as a pro-life, pro-family, pro-Israel, and pro-strong national defense lobbying organization. The Moral Majority chose California Governor Ronald Reagan as “their candidate” for President in 1980, registered millions of new voters, and set about to inform and activate a sleeping giant – 80 million Americans committed to faith, family, and Judeo-Christian values.

With the impetus of the newly organized Moral Majority, millions of people of faith voted for the first time in 1980 and helped elect Ronald Reagan and many conservative congressmen and senators. Since 1979, about 30% of the American electorate has been identified by media polls as the “Religious Right”. Most recent major media surveys have acknowledged that these “faith and values” voters re-elected George W. Bush in November 2004.

Though perhaps better known outside Lynchburg for political activism, Jerry Falwell’s personal schedule confirms his passion for being a pastor and a Christian educator. He often states that his heartbeat is for training young people for every walk of life.

Falwell and his wife of 49 years, Macel, have three grown children and eight grandchildren.

The Pyromaniacs on “The Gospel in Spider-Man 3″

May 10, 2007

While we at Strange BaptistFire certainly don’t wish this blog to become regularly entertainment-focused, I have occassionally addressed some specific entertainment items that I thought might be of particular interest to SBF readers. For this reason, when a character on the T.V. show House made some comments about ‘free-will,’ I took the opportunity to use those comments in order to make a point about how ‘free-will’ (in the libertarian sense) is really an illusion. [BTW- My wife and I no longer watch House due to the pervasive lewdness that has come to characterize that show.]

I have also previously linked my review of Facing the Giants, evaluating the content (or lack of content) in the Gospel message in that movie, as it was produced by a Baptist church, and I knew many churches would be using it as a kind of Gospel presentation.

Having seen Christian enthusiasm over movies such as The Passion of the Christ, The Nativity Story, etc, Hollywood has increasingly tried to market to Christians- issuing statements that make entirely secular films sound as if they have some vital Gospel connection. This has been especially evident in comments made from the directors and producers of Superman Returns and Rocky Balboa prior to the release of those movies (both of which I saw and enjoyed, but I did NOT consider forming a series of Sunday School lessons around them).

Currently, the #1 film is Spider-Man 3, and there has been a great deal of buzz over the Internet about themes of redemption and forgiveness in the Spider-Man films. I’m posting today simply to alert SBF readers that Pyromaniacs blogger Dan Phillips has recently posted a well-written spoiler-free review of Spider-Man 3, which gives an even-handed evaluation of the film while successfully contrasting the world’s ideas of forgiveness- present in the movie- from the biblical teaching on forgiveness- entirely absent from the movie, of course.

His conclusion is basically see the movie and enjoy the movie, but don’t do a sermon series based on the movie.

Clarification on the Need for Baptists to Learn Our History

April 17, 2007

In the comment thread of my post last week on the need for Baptists to learn our history, my friend Evan Stewart responded with what I took to be a fairly negative reaction. One cause for this was, I think, possibly due to a genuine theological difference as I am convinced of the regulative principle of worship whereas Evan seems to be more influenced by the normative principle. Other than this, however, I think that my earlier post may have lacked sufficient clarity in a few key issues, which I hope to briefly address here. (more…)

The Need for Baptists to Learn Our History

April 10, 2007

For my Church History 2 class here at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the books we’re required to read is The Old Religion in the New World by Mark Noll. In this book, I recently came across the sentence, “Through and beyond the time of the [American] Revolution, Baptist and other dissenting conventicles were occasionally, and sometimes brutally, disrupted by Anglican ministers and their gentry allies.” This sentence reminded me of some accounts I had read in the book Kiffin, Knollys, and Keach: Rediscovering our English Baptist Heritage by Michael A.G. Haykin (a book I read just before this semester began), which told of Baptists being slandered, fined, beaten, made to stand in the pillory, imprisoned, and generally persecuted for daring to worship outside of the Church of England.

These accounts of persecution are of special interest to me right now, as I know of two couples within my own family who have begun attending congregations affiliated with the Church of England. And this causes me to wonder: How did we get to this point? That is, how did we come from a heritage in which men and women were willing to suffer the harshest legal penalties rather that submit to the practices of the Church of England- practices that early Baptists considered to be manifestly contrary to the Word of God- and arrive at a situation in which Baptist men and women choose to align themselves with Anglican or Episcopal congregations, believing that they find within these congregations something more biblical than what they encounter in their local Baptist churches?

I sincerely believe that a large part of the answer to this question lies in the fact that most Baptists today have lost a since of historical awareness. Baptists have been conditioned to trust the Scripture as the Word of God, but there has been a lack of education as to how the Baptist heritage has come to specific conclusions from God’s Word concerning issues in regards to the Church. Inadequate training in Baptist history has left many Baptists open to realligning themselves with other faith traditions based merely on matters of personal experience.

This ignorance of Baptist history leading to experience-based decision making is actually encouraged by the practices of many within Baptist leadership today. Baptist history, when mentioned at all, is often presented in such a grossly over-simplified fashion that church members are led to believe Jesus and the apostles were Baptists and that there has been an unbroken line of Baptist churches to the present day. This is very different from the historic Baptist assertion that our tradition is the modern expression of Christianity that is most in line with what is taught in the Bible, in terms of both the teaching of the Word and the practice of the ordinances. (The idea of an unbroken Baptist succession is commonly known as Landmarkism, an error that SBF blogger Gene Bridges has expertly refuted.) Once Baptist church members realize that there are other, older traditions claiming to be biblical, they are often at a loss as how to respond.

The problems raised by this historic uncertainty are compounded by the clearly pragmatic considerations that drive much of Baptist church life today. Take polity for example. Historically, there are very clear, biblical reasons why Baptists have rejected Episcopal or Presbyterian forms of church government in favor of a belief in independent congregationalism led by a plurality of elders (or pastors). Today, we see Baptist churches run by a single pastor, a board of deacons or trustees, an endless gathering of different committees, a professional staff that does not teach, etc. Many Baptists have certainly forgotten their history in this area, they have forgotten what the Bible clearly teaches in 1 Timothy 3, Acts 6, Matthew 18, etc., and they have come to the conclusion that the Bible has nothing specific to say about church government, so we can organize the church in whatever way we find convenient. Given this environment, what is to prevent Baptists from submitting to an episcopate, if that is the convenient thing to do? (more…)