Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Alcohol_Should-Christians-DrinkAmong Christians, few topics are as hotly contested and polarizing as the use of alcohol. Those who abstain (teetotalers) are usually very opposed to its use, and those who partake usually find the teetotalers as legalistic Pharisees. But in my observation of these two groups, each has a tendency to fall into extremes – unhelpful and unbiblical views – furthering the divide between the drinkers and the nondrinkers. So lets take a look at these two ditches one can fall into and see how we can avoid them. (more…)

matrixThis past Sunday, I taught a class on the topic of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. While this usually conjures up thoughts about the debate of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, the scope of this class was much larger. We discussed the nature of God’s sovereignty and how it is specifically expressed in the world. We assessed God’s sovereignty in creation, the affairs of men, and the salvation of individuals. Next we looked at the nature of human responsibility. What does it mean to have free will and moral accountability? Is our will truly free or is it constrained in some way by sin? Finally, we examined two of the most common objections raised against the teachings of these doctrines. Objection #1: People claim these doctrines are not helpful and will only cause an increase in sin. Objection #2: God’s sovereignty over human actions negates the free will and moral responsibility of human beings, making man a robot and God the author of evil.

Regardless of your stance on “the Calvinist debate,” I think you will find much to agree with in this class. I hope you find it helpful.

Jordan

prayer_0The idea of God’s sovereignty raises many questions for Christians. In fact, one of the central “in-house” debates among Southern Baptist is regarding the extent of God’s sovereignty in the salvation of man. I do not here want to wade into those waters and discuss the merits of both sides; however, I would like to show why I believe all Christians do in fact believe in God’s sovereignty over the world.

There are two specific ways in which Christians, despite their doctrinal proclamations, show their belief in the sovereignty of God. First, you pray for God to do things in your life. You pray that he will take action over some event, whether it be a situation in your life or the conversion of someone. Your prayer indicates that God can do something about your petition. Here the words of J.I. Packer: “The recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts. Every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from His hands.” If God does not have the power or authority to act, then why would you even pray? (more…)

Royalty's Throne. Ornate. On WhiteThe sovereignty of God is a doctrine central to the Christian faith. The hope of the Christian is primarily rooted in a God who has both the authority and the power to bring about his good and perfect will. C.D. Cole defines sovereignty as “the exercise of God’s supremacy. God is the one supreme and independent being. He is the only one in all the universe who has the right and the power to do absolutely as He pleases…The sovereignty of God means that He does as He pleases, always as He pleases. God is in control of all things and people, and is directing all things after His own will and to the praise of His own glory.” Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” Likewise, Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”Although the sovereignty of God is not necessarily one of his attributes, it is however true on the basis of his other attributes, i.e. omnipotence, aseity, omniscience, etc. (more…)

Exodus 20:5 “…for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”

Many are thrown aback at the thought of God being a jealous God. This conjures up thoughts of the psycho boyfriend who seeks to control every move of his girlfriend’s life. Jealously in our culture is considered a vice – a lustful desire or excessive covetousness for what someone else has. Associating this description to God, the perfect being, seems insulting and demeaning to his character. If God is maximally great in all his attributes, it seems beneath him to be jealous in this fashion. Applying these notions of jealousy to God would be inappropriate; therefore his jealousy must be different. (more…)

PetitionThe responsibility of human beings before God is repentance and faith. This is required for entrance into relationship with God and the subsequent glory to be revealed at the last day. So generally speaking, the Christian life is one characterized by repentance and faith. If these are lacking, one is not a true follower of Christ. But we often throw around terms like repentance and faith with little understanding of what they actually mean Biblically. To make matters worse, we live in a society that embraces a very relativistic morality and has little remorse over sin. Westerners like to blame some outside source for their problem. There is much recognition of evil in the world, but it is never within. There is much sorrow, but rarely is it godly sorrow. Therefore, how can Christians ensure they are truly repenting? What does true repentance look like? (more…)

SuicideHere are the opening lines of a recent article at CNN.

“Funny, happy people do not kill themselves. It doesn’t make sense.”

That’s usually what people say. “They were such a bright light … the life of the party.” I know, because I used to say these things about my brother, Evan.

Now I know better.

Four years ago, just a few weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Evan ended his life with the intention of forever ending his pain. And I am left with blood on my hands. My misconceptions about suicide have made me an accomplice.

The story seems to go something like this: a teenage boy who had everything going for him – great personality, funny, athletic – began to battle depression of some sort. This turned into anger, internal darkness, confusion, and the eventual taking of his life. For the full story of Evan, you can read the original article here. (more…)

pentecostal-church-service-smallWe live in a sensation driven culture. We are fascinated and driven by the experiences of our senses. Moral values and religious principles often take a back seat to what feels good or what I enjoy. Due to Enlightenment thinking, we have relegated non-physical claims, especially religious ones, to the realm of personal opinion. The only real facts are those that we can experience with our five senses. Such thinking has not been absent from the church, as Christian are likewise very “sense-driven.”

When Christians speak of God, their understanding of him, his interaction in the world, and their relationship to him, they usually speak in emotive language. “I felt God prompting me.” “I felt God in church this morning.” “I just felt a peace about it.” Additionally, Christians often judge other Christians by their emotions, such as their enthusiasm, tears, or other response to Christian activity. So the question must be asked: what role do emotions and feelings play in the life of the Christian. Is the Christian life best described by how we feel and our emotional state? Do we examine the status of our relationship with God based upon how we feel? (more…)

anxiety1In “Anxiety – Part 1” we discussed the distinction between soul and brain and the biology of anxiety disorder. In this post, we will examine the causes, both physical and spiritual, of anxiety disorder and the treatment options.

Causes of Anxiety

Although anxiety has physical and neurological aspects to it, it is my conviction that the ultimate cause of anxiety disorder is sin. Please understand I am not saying psychiatric treatment is unnecessary, for it can be very helpful as we will see below, but the underlying issue runs much deeper than our brains. In order to properly understand how sin is the root cause of anxiety disorder, three aspects of sin – three parts of the whole – must be explained. (more…)

AnxietyOne of the fastest growing forms of medical treatment in the 21st century is psychiatry. Treatment for diagnoses such as ADHD, anxiety disorder, and depression have seen a dramatic increase in recent years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 26% of the adult population suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder.[1] However, not only are we being diagnosed with these disorders, but many are taking medications for them. Antidepressant use has increased by 400% in the last decade, making it the third most common prescription taken among adults.[2] (more…)