Monday, August 8, 2016
Thursday, July 28, 2016
THE GOSPEL COALITION AND SBC’S INTENSE PUSH FOR THE NEW DOCTRINE OF RACIAL RECONCILIATION: HOW THIS NEW DOCTRINE AROSE AND WHY THE SCRIPTURES REJECT ITS ASSERTION
(Part 1 here)
(Part 2 here)
(Part 3 here)
(Part 4 here)
The Misunderstanding and Misuse of the Ethnic Conflict in Acts
Now and then I read support for the deliberate racial or ethnic pursuit of ministry in some form as an interpretive product resulting from the conflict between the Hebraic and Hellenized Jewish believers in Acts 6:1-6. Here is the text:
6 Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. 6 And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.The false exposition of this passage, upon which the endeavors in or of the church toward human multiism relies, is as follows. They see the text as one which, in response to favoritism being show to Hebraic Jews to other Hebraic Jews, in particular the widows and to the neglect of the Hellenized or Greek Jews, the leadership then appointed Hellenized Deacons to help balance things so that the Hellenized Jewish believers would have someone like themselves who, apparently, would be inclined toward serving other Hellenized Jewish Christians, at least this is the assumption of the theological argument. In other words, ethnic and cultural diversity was allegedly recognized and supported as a way to construct a church and its government in order to meet the needs of people from non-identical cultures, by having leaders who shared the human heritage and culture of those they served.
This, of course, is a wholly negligent interpretation. Yes, there was a problem of cultural bias directing the ministry but it wasn’t solved by adding more bias on the other end of the equation. The Hebraic Jews were biased because they could not let go of their once special identity, which included many cultural elements, even though as Christians, their Jewishness had no special value. They still had a strong dislike and clear prejudice against Hellenized Jews whom they considered very tainted and apparently brought this view into their new Christianity, as we sometimes do in our conversion. The term for carrying such carnal ideas into your new faith and practice is called “baggage”.
The response, instead, was to find “brothers…full of the Spirit and of wisdom”. Notice the qualifications? It had nothing to do with finding racial, ethnic or cultural types but spiritual types! More importantly, to assert that the problem was addressed by affirming this prejudice and simply going around it, thus, letting it stand, is both shortsighted and blatantly the worst assumption one could make.
They found men who transcended, by the Spirit of God, such human or anthropological identification and had obeyed God in both understanding and acting on the basis of the new creative order. They found men, full of God’s Spirit, full of the church’s new identity, the spiritual identity.
True Diversity is the Body of Christ is Recognized and Expressed in Spiritual Gifts
The pursuit of the church, as Paul revealed in Ephesians which we referenced in Part 3, is not again flesh and blood rather, it is spiritual. The use of the church to conquer social conflicts, social injustices – real or perceived – and secure some sort of desired civil establishment is against God’s revelation regarding the function of the church. Our objectives and exercises, as the body of Christ, are spiritual. The use of the divine institution of the church in the quest of civil objectives must be recognized as a clear violation of what God has revealed.
Further, the identity of the people of the church is spiritual. We do not number, segregate nor integrate based on our human identities, rather, we fellowship based on a shared singular identity, our new creation in Christ. Our race is that of the saved, our ethnicity that of the holy, our culture that of Christ, our way of shared thinking, his Word and the empowerment of our unity, that of the Spirit. Identities which seek to express themselves contrary or in competition to this must be rejected by thoughtful men and women in the church. Such other identities are for the kingdom on the left, the social and civil kingdom.
But interestingly, in this unified spiritual kingdom, while we possesses equal spiritual privilege and equal access to all the spiritual blessings Christ provides, we are not the same. We are quite diverse, spiritually.
God has made it plain that our individual spiritual gifting will not be the same with one another. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 12:4 that there are “diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit”.
When Bible teachers, theologians and Pastors begin to talk about diversity in the body of Christ, it should be this and not human diversity which is merely anecdotal. This is our diversity, as the church. This is the basis of our different functions in the body of Christ.
Observations and Conclusions
I am convinced that this chase to bring attention to and elevate racial, ethnic and cultural differences, while well-meaning, is, in reality, gravely injuring the true design and mission of the body of Christ. This anthropological paradigm is competing against the true, spiritual construct, of the body of Christ and actually denying its proper expression.
When we identify as Peter described, with the genetics of Christ, our spiritual DNA, with a holy ethnicity and with an objective that is not some social agenda but koinonia in the gospel, and when our reconciliation is what it is supposed to be, not based on some human property but based on our shared reconciliation with Christ thus, sharing in a common fellowship - we are unified.
But when we manufacture a ministry based on or in the promotion of our human identities, we will never be unified and always will be fractured and we will forge, not a spiritual work of God but one of human enterprise and interest and ultimately a social institution, removed from the intention of God.
The church cannot resolve human incompatibility, it is not intended to do such a thing. Its accord and fellowship is spiritual, it has been arranged by God to exercise itself based on spiritual camaraderie, not human reconciliation where she, Christ’s bride, is being tasked with solving the antipathy between the Hatfields and McCoys. Such clashes are civil conflicts to be addressed in the context of the left kingdom, even if it is between two Christians, it is still a civil conflict.
I am sorry so many Christian do not know how to operate in or move from one kingdom to the other but apparently plenty are not able. While both kingdoms are ordained of God they do not operate on the same protocols nor can they impose themselves on to one another, they require people and distinctly, Christians, to understand the Biblical revelation of their separate realms and God’s differing plan and protocols for each, in their establishment and operation.
I read recently that the church should model to the world racial reconciliation. Let me say, even if it were appropriate for the church to do so (it isn’t) it still could not accomplish this. Why? It cannot do so for what I hope is the most obvious reasons, that the world and its people do not have God’s Spirit in them and do not and cannot share in the nature of our reconciliation. They cannot love their brothers and sisters in the Lord as we do, they have no such thing. But again, as I have said, repeatedly, the Bible bears out the truth that our fellowship, as the church, is based on our spiritual reconciliation which is with Christ thus, with one another. It is not based in the resolve of any human incompatibility. At best, we will only mislead and hurt the world with suggesting they follow a pattern for which they lack the divine instruments to achieve.
Do I want America to address its racial problems? Of course. Do I hope organizations of change arise in the kingdom on the left? Of course. But let me be clear, God’s Word makes it explicitly clear that the church is not the institution for that. The church is God’s spiritual empire existing for spiritual remedy.
I realize how easy it is to succumb to humanism because often it does involve some human good but human good is not the mission of the church. We are not about the brotherhood of man but the fellowship of the saints who are spiritual in their DNA, holy in ethnicity and a nation of priests whose culture and camaraderie is based in Christ and a shared doctrine.
May God bless this series and I invite as many as believe in what I have proposed to be true and representative of sound doctrine, not for my own reputation but for the sake of the church, make these thoughts your own and share them as extensively as possible. I do not even ask that you post any link or citation of this series because the truth is, it is God’s truth and he is the only one who is to be credited. As well, those who wish to rebut, I invite as robust as possible, any disagreement. This isn’t personal, it is not about me but about the truth.
(Qualifier - In this series I have maintained a distinction between the right and left kingdoms along with the basis of their identity and pursuits. Further, in my preservation of their boundaries I have repeatedly stated that the kingdom on the right is the spiritual kingdom, the church, with her identity and endeavors, she is spiritual. All of this is true.
I must, however, acknowledge that our Lord's church is necessitated, even commanded, to go into the left kingdom and preach the gospel as well as to honor Caesar in all that is his. Both of these are the two least disputed forms of right to left kingdom contacts taught in Scripture.
The third form is when the saint becomes part of Caesar's household, custodians of civil government. This is where the most disagreement lies.
I did not write this 5 part essay to deal, in any detail, with the nature of this third form of contact between the two kingdoms. But I do want to take time to make clear that it is this third type of involvement where we can and may and must bring devine ethic biblical principle into the left and civil kingdom.
It is often said that Americ's constitution reflects a Biblical principle which is separation of church and state but what it does not teach is separation from God. And herein lies the challenge for the Christian, theologically.
The kingdom on the left does have divine protocols but they are ones for civil regulation, they are not ecclesiastical or spiritual protocols and nor theocratic ones. Further, the protocols and principles for the church cannot be imposed on the kingdom on the left nor can the kingdom on the right, the church, exist as an example for the kingdom on the left. We possess the Spirit of God, we are a new dynamic, a new phenomenon, a spiritual one and the world cannot be us, so the Christian must understand what is taught in Scripture regarding the civil duties of government and the boundaries between that and ecclesiastical and spiritual operations.)
Monday, July 25, 2016
THE GOSPEL COALITION AND SBC’S INTENSE PUSH FOR THE NEW DOCTRINE OF RACIAL RECONCILIATION: HOW THIS NEW DOCTRINE AROSE AND WHY THE SCRIPTURES REJECT ITS ASSERTION
(Part 1 here)
(Part 2 here)
(Part 3 here)
(Part 5 here)
The demand of racial reconciliation or any kind of anthropological/left kingdom reconciliation actually establishes a shameful and gratuitous obstacle to our reconciliation as believers, in Christ. It impedes, if not prohibits, the full range of the practical realization and shared benefits of our spiritual reconciliation in Christ. No such conditions for ecclesiastical/spiritual fellowship are ever even implied in the Scriptures.
Ecclesiastical or Spiritual Camaraderie
When Paul wrote to the Philippians he cherished their fellowship or “koinonia” in the gospel. He, nor they, were fellowshipping or sharing together in the gospel on the basis of social or personal camaraderie. Theirs was a camaraderie or fellowship based on a shared spiritual identity and shared spiritual pursuit which was the gospel and all of its spiritual assets
God, nowhere, levies the demand of social compatibility with his people rather, we have revealed to us that our fellowship or “koinonia” - that is, our ecclesiastical/spiritual camaraderie - is the result of our being reconciled to Christ thus, reconciled to one another. 1 John 1:1-4 states:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.What do you see glaringly absent, here? You see the necessity of racial, ethnic and cultural reconciliation, missing. Why? Because those human properties are for social fellowship and other constructs in the kingdom on the left and not in the kingdom on the right, the spiritual kingdom. The presence of the demand for something more than our reconciliation in Christ (which results in the fellowship of believers and the pursuit of the gospel of Christ, together) such as racial, ethnic, national and international reconciliation, is only the product of a theologically illusory mind. Such an imposition of human, social, or personal compatibility is a chimerical creation foreign to the new and phenomenal magnum opus, if you will, of the holy ethnicity or nation made up of those with spiritual DNA, those chosen in Christ, which is the basis or construct of fellowship between believers.
I do not believe it can be made any clearer than what John reveals. We share in the fellowship of Christ. Our genetics and ethnicity are spiritual, they are Christ’s. Our doctrine and practice emanate from Christ via his Word and we are all equally in possession of the Spirit of Christ, who makes us all equally believer priests with equal spiritual privilege and access to all spiritual assets.
To set one’s self apart, to segregate one’s self from other believers based on the human or anthropological properties of race, ethnicity and culture is to deny and depart from the context of the new foundation and pattern of genuine fellowship between believers, the only fellowship, instituted by God to his church as revealed by the writings of his Apostles.
The Mistaken Conclusion about Spiritual Camaraderie from Afar
If one is unaware of the principle of spiritual camaraderie as the essential blueprint for a local church in serving, loving, forgiving and all around functioning, they are very likely to believe that it is comprised of a group of people who are amazingly reconciled to one another on a personal level. And that is not surprising for a number of reasons, most of which are that from afar, few things can be rightly judged and secondly, it takes some spiritual discernment and doctrine before one can make such a distinction.
I am convinced that this is a mistake made by many Ministers, Bible teachers and theologians in attempting to induce social reconciliation among members within their ministries as some kind of ecclesiastical/spiritual virtue and obligation. Those trying to create such a dynamic are either ignorant of, circumventing or discarding for whatever reason, the basis for camaraderie among believers in a healthy church which is not social or personal compatibility but a shared spiritual identity and practice as our texts have shown.
The Interesting Example of Euodia and Synteche
In the fourth chapter of his letter to the Christians at Philippi, Paul addresses a conflict between what is commonly believed to be two women, Euodia and Synteche. I want to draw your attention to Paul’s counsel, he states, (NASV), “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.”
Paul does not demand personal reconciliation, that is, that they try to become personal friends or that they somehow attempt to reconcile their conflicting personalities rather, that they live in harmony (some translate it, “share the same mind”) in the Lord. Paul states the condition or context of the compatibility which is “in the Lord”. The significance of the setting for ecclesiastical and spiritual harmony between believers and particularly in this example, established by Paul and repeated by Paul, over and over again, as is by other New Testament authors, cannot be emphasized enough, particularly in light of the departure from the new ecclesiastical/spiritual paradigm established by God for our fellowship by so many Pastors and Bible teachers who have either replaced or mixed with the new model and its new and proprietary protocols, the unwarranted and injurious stipulation of left kingdom social/personal compatibility.
The kingdom on the left, the social and civil kingdom, isn’t comprised only of national governments. The kingdom on the left begins with the divine institution of the self, the simplest form of government instituted by God for mankind. And here we have two “selves” that are not socially compatible which is being permitted to express itself in the form of ecclesiastical/spiritual incompatibility.
Paul does not prescribe, to the leaders of the church, that they somehow facilitate the social or personal reconciliation of these two antagonists. Instead, he understands that while they may not be personally and socially compatible, in the Lord or with respect to ecclesiastical/spiritual endeavors, they can and should be thus, he instructs that they be brought to share the same doctrinal mind which is, of course, the mind of Christ.
In other words, they might remain socially incompatible but that really isn’t the problem. The problem they have is their need to be taught sound doctrine and spiritually mature so that they become spiritually and ecclesiastically compatible which is quite possible since it does not depend on personal compatibility but instead, the shared Spirit and doctrine of Christ.
The Problem of Christians in the Left Kingdom
What is so difficult for many believers is being a Christian in the kingdom on the left or the civil kingdom. Imagine, as was in the days of Paul, you own a slave who is born again. In the church, that slave might be gifted to fulfill the office of Pastor/Teacher therefore, in that office and in the kingdom on the right, you, the slave owner, would be subject to his ecclesiastical authority.
But, when you depart from that context and into the kingdom on the left, the civil kingdom, he, the slave, immediately is under your jurisdiction and authority. This dynamic is a very, very difficult reality and exercise for many believers.
They mistake the reconciliation, gifts and privileges that all believers have extended to them in the kingdom on the right, the spiritual kingdom, to be transferable, in some manner, to the kingdom on the left. Either they assume this or insist on this which usually is due to theological negligence regarding an understanding of the two kingdoms with their differing divine constructs and protocols. Therefore, such misguided believers are rendered essentially clueless as to the reality that there are fundamental dynamic changes in the paradigms of the two kingdoms which disallows any attempt to import one into or onto the other.
The Example of our Ecclesiastical/Spiritual Family vs. our Human Family
When we gather with fellow believers or act within the ecclesiastical/spiritual realm, we all see one another as brother, sister, son, daughter, mother and father, spiritually and care for them as such, sometimes even with physical needs. The basis of that fellowship is our reconciliation with Christ and our identifying others as reconciled with Christ, hence, sharing in the same fellowship with Christ which enables us to fellowship together. We are all adopted, together, and related by and in Christ. That is the kingdom on the right, the spiritual or ecclesiastical kingdom.
However, when we enter the context of our human family, which is part of the kingdom on the left and a divine institution which God gave to humanity for its perpetuity, and the time comes for locking our doors to protect our children, to buying clothes for our spouse or children, of caring for our parents with our money and for leaving an inheritance and so forth, to whom, generally, do we attend with such things? We do so toward our biological and/or legally adopted family. Why? We act in this manner because the context of the two kingdoms has change hence, the valid change in the Biblical protocols and subsequent actions. Though we have a spiritual family, we also have a human family (and in many cases our human family are also members of the spiritual family) and the two exist in different kingdoms, with two differing sets of protocols for relating, caring, and being a member and so forth.
Both of these have their own set of assigned values by God to which we must adhere. We cannot abide by these, however, if we do not recognize when we leave one context and enter the other. If we do not or cannot recognize the contexts of the two major kingdoms we are doomed, as are these purveyors of the new and libelous doctrine of social-human-personal camaraderie being necessitated within the body of Christ. Ours is and will forever be a spiritual compatibility based on the shared spiritual new birth with its new identity and all of its protocols and blessings.