Final Thoughts on Race, Social Justice & The Social Justice Statement

0*V9p8id8Jrt79OvQe.jpg

Sorry for the delay in posting but I’ve been swamped. This past weekend, I preached on Biblical Justice and Social Justice. It was one of the most emotionally draining sermons I’ve ever delivered and I even had to cut it off for time’s sake. Here is the long and short of it that also reflects my current thinking on the current debate over social justice.

First of all, I appreciate the Statement on Social Justice drafted and signed by godly men like Dr. John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Dr. James White, Dr. Voddie Baucham, etc. While I have concluded that I will not sign the Statement, I am disturbed at many of the reactions I have seen on social media. I have seen many attack or impugn the motives of these men and I find that to be repugnant.

I regularly listen to The Dividing Line and Grace To You and read the many books written by these men and they have been a great blessing. I have learned much from them and will continue to do so.

Also, these men have legitimate concerns. As I raised during my sermon this past weekend, approaches to societal ills such as “critical race theory” (or CRTS) should be rejected by evangelical Christians. CRTS divides society in such a way as to instruct all minorities to distrust all Caucasians and even shun any who do not fit the theory’s originators of those who are “truly black” or “truly Hispanic,” etc.

I admire that many of these Christian leaders have boldly spoken out on defending the life of the unborn and the Biblical definition of marriage. I think it is also right for all evangelical pastors to also speak regularly on racial injustice as they do on these other important issues.

I began my sermon preaching on God’s commands as to justice. As I posted earlier, the Word of God is very clear that we are not to entertain allegations against anyone without two or three witnesses. I believe that evidence such as recordings from dash board cameras would count. Sole allegations, however, should never be considered regardless if it is in a court of law or the court of public opinion. As such, we, as Christians, should withhold judgment if and until evidence comes to light whether it concerns a Supreme Court nominee or a police officer accused of racism or a shooting victim alleged to have acted aggressively.

I then shifted to speak about race and justice. I prepared by listening to Dr. MacArthur’s sermon series, Dr. White’s remarks on his fine show as well as reading and watching various presentations by pastor Thabiti Anyabwilie, Dr. Eric Mason and Lecrae. I also sat down with several members of my congregation who are black.

I was pleased to hear that racial tensions have greatly diminished over the decades in our own little corner of the world. I was, however, disgusted to hear stories about mistreatment by police officers. I was also disturbed to learn that many minority members of my church faced a lot of criticism from their African-American friends for not attending a “black church.” Thus, Dr. White is correct that racism can in fact work both ways.

My friends expressed concern that while they understood why white evangelical pastors have preached on behalf of marriage and the unborn, they were distressed that we had not spoken as passionately about issues such as the slaughter of young black men in places like Chicago, the high rate of incarceration of minorities in America and shooting such as that of Treyvon Martin.

Of course, a number of white evangelical leaders have addressed these issues but there is a difference between acknowledging a problem and preaching on an issue with true passion. I apologized for personally being guilty of making such a mistake.

I agree with Dr. White’s exegesis of texts such as Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11 that the key to true racial reconciliation is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Critics have pointed out that the “just preach the Gospel” approach is historically problematic. For example, men like Gen. Stonewall Jackson were known for their Christian piety yet defended the evil institution of slavery during the American Civil War. What do we make of this?

I argued that, as best I could ascertain, the reason Christians could profess Christ and yet engage in such puzzling behavior is the same reason pastors can study the Word and minister to people then go home and watch inappropriate material online or a mother could pray over her children at night and then affirm an ungodly relationship among friends the next day. The problem is sin and when our inherit sinful nature is coupled with cultural acceptance the result is toxic.

So, we must preach the Gospel clearly and boldly. Yet, we must seek to establish diverse congregations so that our study, teaching and preaching are challenged by those with very different experiences from our own.

Before entering corporate defense law and then working for eight years for a Christian non-profit law firm, I served as a prosecutor in upstate New York. I worked closely with police officers. The overwhelming majority of those men and women were dedicated, under paid, fair and heroic servants. However, I knew of a handful who were racist. They had no business possessing a badge. If, tragically, such a person takes the life of a person of color AND the evidence eventually shows either a horrible mistake or malice, pastors, white or otherwise, should speak out. If the shooting, however, was justified then I beg my brothers and sisters of color to hear the Word of the Lord and wait for evidence that God Himself has stated is admissible. In sum, I pray that the segregation of Jesus’ church would end, that pastors of all colors will regularly speak out on injustice but always keep the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:21) at the core. I pray that God’s people lead the way in healing our fractured society by embracing God’s design for justice. I pray that all of those in Jesus Christ remember that we have one enemy, which is Satan and his fellow demons and that, as best I know, they do not have a skin color.

Celebrating Inerrancy--The Original Manuscripts

41Uwl3AzH3L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I am continuing to count down to the 40th anniversary of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I am doing so by looking at the collection of scholarly articles from that meeting collected in the book Inerrancy, which was published in 1980. The late Dr. Greg Bahnsen penned the article on inerrancy and the original manuscripts.

The assertion by evangelicals that inerrancy only applies to the original manuscripts often draws howls of protests from opponents. I can confidently state, however, that most of those who deny inerrancy have rarely interacted with the pertinent scholarship on the issue.

Inerrantists, like myself, hold the position for a number of reasons: (1) the Bible itself claims to be the very words of God (2 Tim. 3:16) and is quoted as such by Jesus, His Apostles and other inspired authors (by one count 1600 times! see P. 41 of “Inerrancy”); (2) textual studies show such reverence for both the Old and New Testaments that recognized copyist errors are minimal (99.5% of NT texts are in agreement with no variations among “central” passages); and (3) Early church fathers also treat Scripture as authoritative without qualification.

The late Dr. Carl F.H. Henry wrote in his magnum opus “God, Revelation & Authority”, “On the basis of all the existing early testimony, it is clear that the generation which possessed the apostolic autographs viewed them as the veritable Word of God. The fact of inerrant autographs is both theoretically and practically important. If the originals were errant, then textual criticism would expect to give us not more truthful readings but only more ancient ones. (Volume IV, 208-209).”

Opponents often object that if the Bible is the very Word of God then He would have preserved the original autographs for the church. Yet, as Scripture and history demonstrate, such a move poses obvious dangers such as the veneration of such objects to the point of idolatry.

Thus, evangelicals hold to the doctrine of inerrancy because it follows from the clear actions of Christ, His Apostles, other inspired authors and the early church. Furthermore, it is buttressed by the discipline of textual criticism. We are blessed to have the Word of God and should study it with the respect it deserves.

Biblical Justice, Kavanaugh and #MeToo


1024px-Balanced_scale_of_Justice.svg_.png

All media, social and traditional, are packed with stories of sexual misconduct from the U.S. Senate to Hollywood. I affirm that if someone is guilty of such acts AND it can be fairly proven, that person should be held accountable whether they be a federal judge or a studio executive.

I have worked in Hollywood and I have worked on Capitol Hill. I have known professional women who told me how time and time again they were subject to advances, lewd comments or worse. I have nothing but sympathy for those subjected to such treatment.

Yet, as a Christian, I contend that we should always look to God for wisdom in any and all areas to which He has spoken through His Word. Scripture does indeed have a lot to say about how to deal with accusations of misconduct.

The first rule of due process established by God in both Old and New Testaments is that accusations should only be considered if eyewitnesses (plural) are available and can be examined by responsible authorities.

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.” (Deut. 19:15).

““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (Matt. 18:15-16).

“…every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (2 Cor. 13:1)

“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19).

God consistently states that solitary charges of misconduct are not to be entertained. It would be anachronistic of course to argue from these texts that other evidence could not be entered into consideration such as DNA, fingerprints, etc. But, according to God’s Word, I believe it a proper interpretation, even with the advance of crime scene analysis, that charges made without any corroboration should be dismissed from the courts and from the court of pubic opinion.

I understand that this will raise the objection that this would allow many guilty people to go free. Yet, this is where a Christian worldview makes a monumental difference. Scripture teaches that justice will be done and executed by God Himself but according to His timeline not ours (see Romans 2:6; 12:19; Rev. 20:12).

It is also important for all of us to note how easy it is for victims to sinfully become victimizers in a quest for quick justice. I will expand on this later but, suffice to say, following the argument of Cornelius Plantinga in his book “Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be,” that history is littered with injustice perpetrated by victims of injustice who all too easily justify in their minds getting even at any cost.

Social Justice, The Faith and Health Care


healthcare.jpg

Once again, sorry for the delay in posting but life happens. Today, we continue looking at the issues typically embraced by “social justice warriors” (SJW) and health care is on the periphery of that sphere of concerns.

Leading up to the Affordable Care Act (i.e., ACA or “Obamacare”), I witnessed many SJW’s champion socialized medicine. Since, the enactment of the ACA, many SJWs have continued to push for a Canadian model. Yet, even progressives like T.R. Reid in his book “The Healing of America,” acknowledge that Canada’s health care system has serious problems. Reid confronted government officials about the long waiting lines for what Canada calls “elective treatment,” and one of those bureaucrats responded that our neighbors up north didn’t mind because both rich and poor had to wait the same amount of time. In other words, as long as everyone suffers, everyone is happy?

Reid contends the reason America’s health care system is so expensive is that our administrative costs are too high. He is right but he doesn’t do a thorough job of explaining why they are out of control.

The reason is simple—government regulation. When I worked on Capitol Hill, I met doctor after doctor from across the country who said the same thing, “I had to hire several full-time employees just to complete government paperwork and I had to pass on that cost to my patients!”

Moreover, Reid and other progressives also like to quote how many Americans were uninsured before Obamacare but they do a poor job of explaining why. The overwhelming majority of those without health care were either immigrants or young, healthy professionals making more than $70,000 a year and simply choosing not to snag health insurance! This does not equate crisis by any measure.

Furthermore, it is also important to note that one of the primary reasons prescription drugs are so expensive in the U.S. and so cheap overseas is that we pay for the research and development that go into creating those drugs while most countries simply ignore trademarks, rip off the formula and produce generic versions. Thus, we can have cheaper prescriptions but no innovation in the future or we can pay for important research that may grant longer, happier lives. It is your choice!

As a Christian, I empathize with anyone who needs health care. It is important to remember that Christians were responsible for creating the modern hospital. Yet, as believers we are called to exercise wisdom. If the numbers clearly demonstrate that health care costs are high because of government overregulation, then SJW, the answer is simple—repeal the regulations, suck it up and pay for research & development that we all want and quit calling a crisis that which is certainly not a crisis!


Celebrating Inerrancy--Proper Interpretation


41Uwl3AzH3L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


Sorry for the delay in posting but, once again, life got in the way as I’m trying to get doctoral applications out the door!

We are counting down to the 40th anniversary of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and looking at how that important statement was encapsulated in the 1980 work “Inerrancy,” edited by Norman Geisler. Dr. Walter Kaiser penned the chapter on “Legitimate Hermeneutics” or legitimate interpretation of Scripture.

Kaiser called for a true reformation of how champions of inerrancy speak about Scripture. Specifically, he contended for evangelicals to speak about the meaning of the Biblical text (and the article “the” rather than “a” is important).

Too often evangelicals have fallen into the trap of the “read a verse and comment” approach where they speak about how they “feel” about a verse or section of Scripture. Yet, proper interpretation seeks to understand THE meaning of the text intended by the inspired author.

Paul was clear that God provided the church with teachers for a reason (1 Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11). The Bible is a library of 66 books given in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic over a span of thousands of years in several different historical and cultural contexts. In order to understand “the meaning” of a text, it takes a commitment to scholarly study of the language and literary & cultural context of the Scripture at hand. Otherwise, even committed Christians, can lapse into a wholly subjective reading of God’s Word.

Liberals approach the text with presuppositions that the text is a human product corrupted by transmission or editing by various parties with various agendas. Thus, liberals often do not believe in “the meaning” of a text but various meanings that often lies somewhere behind the text.

A belief in inerrancy means taking the text seriously as it has been given to us by God. The Lord gave us His Word via human authors in a specific place and time using a specific language and respecting it as such means studying it properly. Because of the gravity of knowing the given will of God, a church should settle for no less than teachers who are trained in the disciplines of careful Biblical interpretation and committed to continuing study to understand THE meaning of the text. The Word of God is too important to be treated without the respect it deserves.