“Is disagreement about homosexuality an ‘intra-evangelical’ discussion?” Reblogged from Denny Burk

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Mark your calendars–this November, Zondervan will be releasing a new book, Homosexuality, The Bible, and the Church. While he hasn’t yet seen the book, Denny Burk has some helpful comments about its release notes.

Burk shows that the way the questions of affirmation are framed is of considerable importance, and he is concerned about the intentions of this book.

Full article here.

Burk and Heath Lambert have themselves addressed these matters in their bookTransforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change.

“Jesus Christ holds lawful title”

“The kingdom of God is the arena of God’s redemption. Jesus Christ redeemed the whole world — that is, He bought it back. He did this by paying the ultimate price for man’s sin: His death on the cross. The whole earth has now been judicially redeemed. It has been given “a new lease on life.” The lease that Satan gained from Adam has been revoked. The Second Adam (Jesus Christ) holds lawful title.

The world has not been fully restored in history, nor can it be; sin still has its effects, and will until the day of final judgment. But progressively over time, it is possible for the gospel to have its restorative effects. Through the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit, redeemed people are able to extend the principles of healing to all areas under their jurisdiction in life: church, family, and State.

All Christians admit that God’s principles can be used to reform the individual. They also understand that if this is the case, then the family can be reformed according to God’s Word. Next, the church is capable of restoration. But then they stop. Mention the State, and they say, “No; nothing can be done to restore the State. The State is inherently, permanently satanic. It is a waste of time to work to heal the State.” The Christian Reconstructionist asks: Why not?

They never tell you why not. They never point to a passage in the Bible that tells you why the church and family can be healed by God’s Word and Spirit, but the State can’t be. Today, it is the unique message of Christian Reconstruction that civil government, like family government and church government, is under the Bible-revealed law of God and therefore is capable in principle of being reformed according to God’s law.

This means that God has given to the Christian community as a whole enormous responsibility throughout history. This God-given responsibility is far greater than merely preaching a gospel of exclusively personal salvation. The gospel we preach must apply to every area of life that has been fouled by sin and its effects. The church and individual Christian evangelists must preach the biblical gospel of comprehensive redemption, not just personal soul-winning.’ Wherever sin reigns, there the gospel must be at work, transforming and restoring. The only area of life outside of the reach of Spirit-empowered restoration is an area that was not affected by the fall of man. This, of course, means no area at all.”

DeMar, Gary and North, Gary, Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t (revised Text), n.d.

When Humanists and Pietists Agree

“The humanists want Christians to stay out of politics as Christians. The pietists agree. The humanists deny that there are valid biblical blueprints that apply to this world. The pietists agree. The humanists argue that Old Testament laws, if applied today, would produce tyranny. The pietists agree. The humanists say that the civil government should be run in terms of religiously neutral laws. The pietists agree. The humanists deny that the God of the Bible brings predictable sanctions in history against societies that do not obey His law. The pietists agree. The humanists deny that the preaching of the gospel will ever fundamentally change the way the world operates. The pietists agree. The humanists say that Christians should sit in the back of cultural bus. The pietists agree. This is why both sides hate the message of Christian Reconstruction.”

DeMar, Gary and  North Gary, Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t (revised Text), n.d.

There is a True Emperor, and He has come.

“By the advent of the Saviour, then, paganism decreases, philosophy declines, all dæmoniacal deceits perish. The faith of Christ, on the other hand, spreads, and opposition to it decays.

As the darkness vanishes before the sun, so heathen darkness prevails no longer, and the whole earth is illuminated by Christ’s teaching.

The appearance of the true emperor exposes the usurpers; so the advent of Christ has exposed and silenced the usurpation of dæmons and idols.
The Son of God, the Only-Begotten Word, alone remains, while temporal things are vanishing away.
[Athanasius of Alexandria, Athanasius: On the Incarnation of the Word of God, trans. T. Herbert Bindley, Second Edition Revised. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1903), 39.]

“For as when the sun is up darkness no longer prevails, but if there is any left anywhere it is driven away; so now, when the Divine Manifestation of the Word of God is come, the darkness of the idols prevails no longer, but every part of the whole earth is everywhere illuminated by His teaching. And just as, when an emperor is reigning in some country and does not appear, but remains within his own house, frequently some disorderly persons, abusing this withdrawal of his, proclaim themselves, and each being invested with the outward show, cheats the simple with his appearance as emperor, and thus men are deceived by the name, hearing indeed that there is an emperor, but not seeing him, p 145 especially as they cannot make their way within into his house; but when the true emperor comes forth and appears, then the disorderly deceivers are convicted by his presence, and men, seeing the true emperor, abandon those who formerly deceived them: so, in like manner, dæmons formerly deceived men, investing themselves with God’s honour; but when the Word of God appeared in a body, and made known to us His Father, at that moment the deceit of the dæmons vanishes and ceases; and men, looking to the true God, the Word of the Father, abandon idols, and themselves come to a clear knowledge of the true God.”

Athanasius of Alexandria, Athanasius: On the Incarnation of the Word of God, trans. T. Herbert Bindley, Second Edition Revised. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1903), 144–145.

Lord of the Lands . . .

“But our doctrine must tower unvanquished above all the glory and above all the might of the world, for it is not of us, but of the living God and his Christ whom the Father has appointed King to ‘rule from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the ends of the earth’ [Ps. 72:8; 72:7, Vg.]. And he is so to rule as to smite the whole earth with its iron and brazen strength, with its gold and silver brilliance, shattering it with the rod of his mouth as an earthen vessel, just as the prophets have prophesied concerning the magnificence of his reign [Dan. 2:32–35; Isa. 11:4; Ps. 2:9

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 12.

Today’s Prophetic Teaching

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“The most serious error in much of the current ‘prophetic’ teaching is the claim that the future of Christendom is to be read not in terms of Revival and Victory, but of growing impotence and apostasy.”

Oswald T. Allis, “Forward” to Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1954), ix.

It Is Necessary To Reject Agnosticism In Order To Defend It.

Agnosticism, as it pertains to theism (and my interest here is Christian theism), runs one of two ways: 1) the individualist way—claiming to have no personal knowledge as to whether or not God, (or god, or gods, deity, etc.) exists. Others may make such a knowledge claim, but the individual agnostic claims, at least for himself, to have no knowledge; 2) the second way agnosticism is expressed is universality, stating that knowledge claims about deity is impossible for anyone. No one can know if such a thing as deity exists, and those who claim to know are either simply wrong, deceived, or deceptive.

The reason this distinction matters is that although an individual agnostic may deny the universality of his agnosticism, agnosticism invariably leads to a universal claim about knowledge, and a demand of its acceptance.

If, as Christian theists assert, all people, believers and unbelievers alike, know enough about God and His Law to be held accountable to it, then the agnostic is not telling the truth when he says, “I don’t know whether or not God exists.” This is hardly surprising—people say this all the time. The problem is, of course, that Scripture tells us otherwise (Psalm 19; Romans 2:12-16). According to the Bible, there are no agnostics. If the Bible is true, there are no agnostics.

The tendency to universalize agnosticism stems from the objection to what I said in the paragraph above: “You cannot say that I know there is a God when I clearly know that I do not know. What you say about me (that I really do know that God exists) can only be true if your system is correct. I don’t believe your system and therefore I am not subject to its claims.”

To defend agnosticism is to deny Scripture. But to deny Scripture is to claim knowledge about its truthfulness. Once such knowledge is claimed, agnosticism has been abandoned. So it is necessary to reject agnosticism in order to defend it, which, of course, means it is defeated. Therefore, I would argue, that agnosticism is irrational.

Furthermore, our disbelief or belief in any proposition (such as, “God exists) is irrelevant to its truthfulness. God does not exist because I believe that He does, nor does He not-exist because I disbelieve. What is true is true whether or not I believe it, or accept it. Denying Scripture, and all it says about God’s Law, judgement, and wrath, does not remove its reality if it is real.

So the agnostic must actually claim to know something: that religious knowledge is not true, or at least that it is unknowable. This is, then knowledge, something known.

This moves us into the second way that agnosticism functions, which is as a universal. Just as Christian truth-claims are universal, the agnostic’s knowledge must be universal as well. It cannot be private, or personal, because the nature of the claim is in essence a universal.

An agnostic cannot, consistently, remain so at the personal level. It must be true for all if it is for anyone.

Christians already accept that their beliefs are universal, and not limited to the individual.

Fact and Faith

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“The grand distinction between Christianity and all systems of philosophy, and all other religions, so called, consists in this, that it is not a mere system of notions, but a series of facts. Its first promulgators could all adopt, as their own, the words of John: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you” (1 John 1:1–3). It is this that makes it everlasting; for deeds once done can never be altered: it is this that makes it universal; for duly accredited facts fall within the reach of those also who could not follow a chain of abstract reasoning: it is this that makes it so mighty; for simple facts are stronger than the most elaborate arguments. That a thorough investigation of these facts is a duty, may be taught us by Luke; but their reality being once ascertained, it results, from his words to Theophilus, that the ἀσφάλεια of the faith can no longer be called in question. Would that they who, in reading the Gospel narratives, have continually in their mouths the words, myth, tradition, legend, might enter into the spirit of Luke’s prologue, and, after due research, might feel and experience that here, if anywhere, they are treading on the firm ground of the most unquestionable reality!”

J. P. Lange, 1802-1884

John Peter Lange and J. J. van Oosterzee, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Luke, trans. Philip Schaff and Charles C. Starbuck (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 13.