What About Shellfish? Christians cherrypick the Bible.

Assuming I did this correctly, here’s my approach to addressing the “what about shellfish?” Objection to the Christian faith. The short answer: it’s the unbeliever that cherrypicks the texts in their objection rather than taking the time to understand what we believe. With that said, yes, Christians are often guilty in their objections to others.

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We are all “Politically Correct” Now

We are all “politically correct” now, if I can barrow Nixon. We’ve internalized Gramsci, even Christians.

There’s a push against PC, but, unfortunately, dominated by the juvenile antics of a Milo and the President. They strive for offense and not to strike at the root. The real perniciousness of political correctness is greater than a shock jocks antics because it makes issues and ideas untouchables.

My first conscious memory of political correctness was Dan Quail and Murphy Brown in the early 90’s. Remember that? I barely remember the details, but remember thinking the VP’s position was common sense. A child needs to be raised by a man and woman, a husband and wife (a sign I’ve internalized the enemies philosophy, I hedge to mention it because it might offend single moms, fatherless children, and dad’s plagued by guilt or loss).

In the early 90’s, at least in my personal memory, “pc” took fatherlessness off the discussion table. After all, what are *you* saying about the kids? What are *you* saying about moms? And how do you address this politically?

To address the family, divorce, and sex you strike at men, women, children, and all of society. The issue becomes your bigotry & intolerance of the difficulties or personal decisions of others. The problem isn’t fatherlessness, but your judgey social construct that attaches stigma to the choices of dad, mom, and the child, and who are you to judge? You are then chased off with issues of patriarchy, privilege, dominance, power, etc., and whatever other pc buzzword hold rhetorical force. It’s rhetorically powerful.

This made me realize the things that plague our culture are all intertwined and therefore can only be discussed in the context of the Logos. It is inescapable that fatherlessness is intertwined with feminism, “my body, my choice,” juvenile crime, homelessness, and, yes, school shootings. The secular humanist cannot grant this because it’s the close of their system. It’s the end of social autonomy as they know it. So, instead of talking about systemic issues, they’ve attached . The problem isn’t fatherlessness, but patriarchy – we don’t need men! And then they’ll compassionately offer government programs for their private choices to keep their sexual freedom, even if it means a loss of freedom for others. After all, should a child suffer because of the choices of the parent? “My body, my choice” doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Yet, we’ve embraced a culture that achieves this en masse.

What’s the point? America seeks to make male/female completely autonomous from one another, rebelling against nature and nature’s God, the Logos. The future is not woman. It is male and female (that binary) – for man came from woman and woman from man! We (and our children) need one another.

When we rip apart the one flesh sexual union, we reap what we sow. Can you rip apart your body & soul and still have life? “Why do you care what I do in the bedroom?” Because the social costs are radical, and you know it! That’s why you spend so much time making it a public issue. If you rip apart the one flesh of male/female in marriage, you literally rip apart children, families, love, and the “safe space” so many desire. As it is written, “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Yet, we are hellbent on putting this asunder and can’t fathom what’s wrong?

The State will gladly be the father to the fatherless. Christian, why do you think true religion looks after the orphaned and the widowed? Why do you think the humanist spends so much time advocating for the State to look after the orphaned and the widowed? It’s religion all the way down!

Yet, the painful reality of wrecked marriages/fatherlessness is due to lust, lying, greed, etc., so even fatherlessness is a more deeply embedded problem than the State can fully address. This is why it doesn’t make good politics. It’s not immediate enough.

This is where Kingdom work needs to be seen for and it is – slow, even imperceptible at times. It doesn’t look like our prayers, evangelism, and church services do anything. So, instead of serving the Logos, we are tempted to leave it & want something more revolutionary – a sexual revolution, a social revolution, a political revolution, theological revolution, etc.

The Christian response is simple (doesn’t mean it’s simplistic): The way forward begins with “repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! God has sent him to bless you by turning you away from your wickedness!” For the man suffering under the shame and guilt of his infidelity, greed, and divorce, there is grace and mercy, and this grace and mercy restores you to exercise dominion at work, in your home, and in your personal life. In short, “act like men, be strong.” Not governed by your passions, but governed by love (that term appropriated by the enemy) and governed by the Logos.

That’s the Christian way forward to the good of the city and nation. It doesn’t make for good public rallies or CNN town halls, but it’s the way forward.

Come and see!

Salvation By Allegiance Alone – A Review

Salvation By Allegiance

After Peter preached on Pentecost, the crowd was cut to their heart and asked, “What must we do to be saved?” Peter’s response is foreign to evangelical ears, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

What about “faith?” What about “just believe?” Why include baptism?

How we got here is beyond my abilities and this review, but a cursory reading of the Scriptures suggests a gap between preaching in Acts and popular presentations of the Gospel. Into this chasm comes Matthew Bates’ “Salvation by Allegiance Alone,” who says, “our contemporary Christian culture often comes prepackaged with function ideas and operative definitions of belief, faith, works, salvation, heaven, and the Gospel that in various ways truncate and distort the full message of the good news about Jesus the Messiah that is proclaimed in the Bible.”

In most ways, this is an outstanding and helpful work, but there are several caveats and shortcomings.

First, Bates lays out what faith is not, and this is a helpful section that needs to be read by all Christians (and unbelievers). In summary, faith is “not the opposite of evidence assessment” or “believing things we have no evidence for.” It is not a “leap into the dark” in Kierkegaardian fashion, or “The opposite of works,” or an “’it’s all good’ attitude,” or “reducible to intellectual assent.” All of these I have heard at one point or another in discussions with Christians (and non) about what the Bible teaches about faith. If it is none of these things, then what is faith? Per Bates, “true pistis is not an irrational launching into the void but a reasonable, action-oriented response grounded in the conviction that God’s invisible underlying realities are more certain than any apparent realities. Stepping out in faith is not intrinsically good in and of itself, as if God is inherently more pleased with daring motorcycle riders than with automobile passengers who cautiously triple-check their seatbelt buckles; it is only a good when it is an obedient response to God’s exercised sovereignty.” Bates does a good job demonstrating the historical context of “repent and believe,” seeking to show notions of “embodied-allegiance” is in the historical backdrop of this language rather than “original” to the Bible alone.

Second, this pistis is exercised in Jesus the King. The story of Jesus is “how he preexisted with the Father, took on human flesh, fulfilling God’s promises to David, died for sins in accordance with the Scriptures, was buried, was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, appeared to many, is seated at the right hand of God as Lord, and will come again as Judge.” If you read through the sermons in Acts, I believe you will find this a faithful presentation of their “Gospel preaching” and it is not limited to atonement theology.

There is a lot more to review in this book, but Bates concept of “corporate” opposed to “individual” election is going to fall short for most Reformed thinkers. Also, Bates seems to have a thrust to ecumenical dialogue between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Yet, I would suggest that “embodied allegiance” will not allow me to give any allegiance to the Bishop of Rome, but to King Jesus alone. Point being: even if one grants a shift in the definition of faith and the Gospel as understood by Bates, it doesn’t necessitate a union between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Finally, and maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember a good discussion of Abraham’s faith from Genesis 12-15. This, I believe, bolsters Bates’ point. Abraham served “other gods” (Joshua 24:2), but he changed his allegiance from “others gods,” and went from country, kindred, and father’s house to follow the Lord (akin to Jesus’ calling Mark 10:29). This concept of “other gods” could easily be developed more fully to spell out the not of “allegiance,” because we have a tendency to operate “belief” or “faith” in the context of a secular rather than “religious” culture. If you have a world of many gods, like Abraham was in, what does “faith” in YHWH look like? Does it look like intellectual assent? Or is it a change in allegiance from Pharaoh to YHWH?

I think Bates book is quite helpful and pushes the discussion forward, but there are quite a few areas that can and need to be developed more fully to make it more useful.

So, returning to Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, why “repent and be baptized?”  Both of those are indications of a change in allegiance.  Baptism, rather than being something tagged on “after one is already saved,” it is intertwined with the move from allegiance of “other gods” to a new King.