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Monday, September 24, 2007

Mohler interviews Page

On September 18, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary interviewed Dr. Frank Page, Pastor of 1st Baptist Church, Taylors, South Carolina and President of the Southern Baptist Convention on his weekday radio program.

During the interview, Mohler asked Page the following question (basically word for word):

Pastoring in South Carolina, how do you deal with the culture and gospel issue?

In his answer, Page made the following remark, "South Carolina is the capital of cultural Christianity which has led many people straight to hell."

Dr. Page was addressing the real problem that exists in many parts of the South (as Mohler remarked) where most people view themselves as being saved by virtue of many reasons except for the biblical one, namely ongoing repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ.

Serving in South Carolina, I find this comment to be true indeed. In too many conversations, people tell me that they were saved 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago, and for 8, 13, 18, 22 years they have been living like they have no relationship with Jesus, like the presence of the Holy Spirit is not in them, they have forsaken the people of God, and they have an obvious love affair with the world.

And it is so hard for individuals like this to come to an understanding that they might very well not be saved because some pastor or church has convinced them falsely.

One of the ways I try to battle this cultural trend in my own preaching is repeatedly reminding the congregation that our assurance of salvation is that:

we repented of our sins last night,
we trust Jesus today,
we pray to him regularly,
the fruits of the Holy Spirit are evident in our own lives
we hate sin
we love Jesus, and so on.

My prayer is that we will not produce another generation of deceived men and women.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Selective Hermeneutic

Living in the South, especially South Carolina, one encounters both explicit and implicit racism particularly towards Black Americans.

One of the most common ways it is lightly expressed is when someone is telling you a story, and they always make sure that if one of the participants in the story is black, they make it clear to you.

Some of it is innocent (I am in no way dismissing it), but they sincerely do not mean anything by it. However, often times they do.

Race relations have a long way to go in the south.

From time to time I will apply some Scriptural point to race relations. For example when I addressed marriage from 2 Corinthians 6.14 I make the point that the only prohibition made when considering a spouse is that a believer should not marry an unbeliever. I will go on to make the point that interracial marriages are not forbidden.

I have been challenged to my face on this particular issue. Often the person will say, Jason you have two daughters, would you be pleased if they married two black men? My response is usually twofold. First, I say that if the young black man loves Jesus and is following after him, then I have no objections. Second, I say that hypothetically if I did have a problem, it would be my issue and not my daughter's or the young man's.

The usual arguments given by those against interracial marriages goes as following:

1. Some will say it will be too difficult because both partners will feel the stress of bringing two different cultures together. Furthermore, it is argued that you are placing a burden on the children of a mixed marriage.

More and more the stresses of the children are not legitimate in cities where children of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds are growing up together, and the issue is really a non-issue. However in rural areas and small towns, the problem is not the children born from mixed marriages but the racist attitudes in children who come from racist homes.

2. Less frequently is the so called biblical argument that races should not mix. This arises from texts where Israel was prohibited from marrying Canaanites (Deut 7:3).

It is generally agreed though that the biblical prohibition put upon Israel against marrying foreigners has nothing to do with their skin color or ethnicity, but has everything to do with the God they worshipped (see Deut 7:4). This principle clearly comes out in the New Testament as well as I have already referenced above.

Nevertheless, there are some in the church who will still make this argument from the Old Testament.

What really frustrates me is when some of these very ones who argue from the OT against interracial marriage will argue that the standard for tithing is the NT. While I agree that we should look to the NT's teaching concerning tithing, the OT should not be neglected in the pursuit of finding God's will on the issue.

I find it convenient when people in the church use this kind of selective hermeneutic to get from the Bible exactly what they want.