Christian Liberty, Church Wear, and Voting

I have a pet peeve. That peeve is when Christians demand other brothers and sisters in Christ to do something that is not mandated by Scripture. I am a firm believer of Christian liberty and I rejoice that the writers of the Westminster Confession included an entire chapter to this subject. I know a few people who would say that drinking is a damnable action, I know others who will say that if you don't dress up for church you are not showing God respect. I personally wonder where that thought ultimately leads... would you say you are a better Christian than they for dressing up? is there pride? Those are things for me to talk about with my dear friends who tell me to dress up more for church.

But here is the idea I ponder, does the Bible tell us how to vote? Does Christian liberty apply to how believers vote?

I have read an account by Anne Rice, a Catholic and a novelist who is a pro lifer, yet is supporting Hillary Clinton. Rice believes that abortion will be overcome through the democratic party, she also affirms that she finds the Democratic party to coincide with Gospel teaching. My experience this summer at Light of Life, working with Christian democrats, makes me understand this. Though I ultimately disagree. (If I need to explain this more, I will do my best to share how I comprehend an idea in the comments.)

Another professing Christian, a PCA minister, Lee Irons, makes an argument for Barak Obama because he does not see abortion as the pivotal issue for elections. Instead it is foreign policy. I get that, but I ultimately disagree.

Some men and women who blur the distinction between being a republican and being a Christian. Recently Franky Schaeffer alluded to the fact that his father fought against such an idea, but when others shout Francis' name in their approval. (think A Christian's Manifesto)

I am going to leave it there. I know saints exist who disagree with me in saying that voting is a gray area. I have loved ones who are not single issue voters, but I am. Yet, I must focus on is who the person is before the creator of this universe. I must recognize that they are a child of Grace, called by God, the father himself, and clothed in Christ's blood. That is how I must see them, and speak to them, and love them. We must also ask what is God's agenda for this relationship?

Our testimony to a hurting world depends on such love and grace. As DA Carson winsomely puts it,

We must not stand on our rights. As long as defending our rights remains the lodestar that orders our priorities, we cannot follow the way of the cross. This sort of self denial is easy enough to admire in other believers. One can formulate all sorts of interesting theological lessons deriving from Paul's treatment of what to do about meat that has been offered to idols. But the power of this position of principle becomes obvious only when we are called upon to abandon our rights. (The Cross and Christian Ministry, pg. 129)
Please leave a thought.


Iain Duguid Resources

One of the most gifted preachers I have heard is my Hebrew professor Iain Duguid. This page contains all of his sermons that I can find on the web, books he has written, and other things of the Duguid name. A brief biography can be found here.


Christmas sermons (2007) at First Reformed Presbyterian, Pittsburgh (PCA)
Christmas Present for the World (Is. 9)
Promise of Emmanuel (Is. 7)

Easter Sermons
Is this your King?

Sermons on the entirety of Esther, the entirety of Ruth, Numbers, and Genesis (here)

The Following were preached at Grace Fallbrook (PCA)
Malachi - When Good things happen to Bad people
Malachi - Do you Really Love me?
Luke - Justifying Ourselves (Good Samaritan)
Judges - Othniel: the perfect judge
Job - The Lord's Final Answer to Suffering
Joshua - Whom will you Serve
Zechariah - No Condemnation

A Whole New World (ch. 4)
Cleaning up your life (ch. 3)
the Best is yet to come (ch. 2)
Consider Your Ways (ch. 1)

How Long will I be Broken
Wars and Rumors of Wars
Prepared for Battle
Hope in the Darkness
Praying in the Darkness
How to Wait for God
Living in the Valley of Darkness
The Triumph of the Son of Man
In the Angel's Den
Weighed and Found Wanting
The Rise and Fall of Nebuchadnezzar
Through the Fire
Gone with the Wind
Interesting Times
When the World Does it's Worst, God is faithful


Ezekiel - New International Version Application Commentary

Reformed Expository Commentaries
Esther and Ruth
Judges (forthcoming in 2011)

Evangelical Press Commentaries
Obadiah and Jonah (forthcoming)
Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi (forthcoming)

Preaching the Word Commentaries
Numbers: God's Presence in the Wilderness

The Major Prophets (forthcoming)

The Gospel According to Series
Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel According to the lives of Issac and Jacob
Living in the Gap between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to the Life of Abraham
Hero of Heros: Seeing Christ in the Beatitudes

Contributed to Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Theology: Essays by the faculty of Westminster, California


Books on Godliness (pt. 1)

A few books that have made a huge impact on my spiritual life and growth are When I Don't Desire God, The Enemy Within, Living the Cross Centered Life, The Pursuit of Holiness, and Overcoming the World. Each one of these books takes a strong stance on the Holiness of God and his great mercy and grace. Each author, Piper, Lundgaard, Bridges, and Beeke, all admire the Puritans and adopt their teaching and methods in personal godliness. Piper states as much in his plethora of writings, Lundgaard's work essentially is a modern rewrite of Owen's Mortification of Sin, Bridges accomplishes the same but in regards to Ryle's Holiness, and finally Beeke, but his work is steeped in Calvin's theology of Union with Christ. A gem... just read Romans 8.

Piper noted that,

God defines evil this way when he says, "My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13) God pictures himself as a mountain spring of clean, cool, life-giving water. They way to glorify a fountain like this is to enjoy the water, and praise the water, and keep coming back to the water, and point other people to the water, and get strength for love from the water, and never, never, never prefer any drink in the world over this water. That makes the spring look valuable. That is how we glorify God, the fountain of loving water.... So preferring the pleasures of money or power or fame or sex over the "pleasures.... at God's right hand" is not like preferring caramel to hot fudge. It is a great evil. Indeed it is the ultimate meaning of evil. Esteeming God less than anything is the essence of evil."
Lundgaard wrote on the tactics of sin,
You know the flesh has made a breach in your defenses when your heart is hardened by its deceitfulness (Heb 3:13) so that you are careless about sin. You will look at your life and think about how often you need God's forgiveness, and so think of it as something common, nothing to worry over or take pains about. You'll know you are hardened when you begin to extend the boundaries of Christian freedom to include indulgences that in the past would have shocked you. Your flesh will whisper to you that strictness and anxious care about obedience are legalism -the gospel came to deliver you form such things! And besides, if you really do commit a sin, you cna be forgiven later.
For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

(I'll come back to Overcoming the World, Living the Cross Centered Life, and the Pursuit of Holiness.)


A World Christian

To be a world Christian, then, it is important to grow in your grasp of Scripture and in your exposure to other cultures, so that you do not tie your cultural preferences to the gospel and invest the former with the authority of the latter. This is not to say that all cultural elements are morally neutral. Far from it. Every culture has good and bad elements in it. Wicked people can manipulate the appeal to culture to persecute Christians. Yet in every culture it is important for the evangelist, church planter, and witnessing Christian to flex as far as possible, so that the gospel will not be made to appear unnecessarily alien at the merely cultural level. But it is also important to recognize evil elements in culture when they appear and to understand how biblical norms assess them. There will be times when it is necessary to confront culture. After all, simply to appeal to current cultural norms, all the while demanding more flexibility from the Christian, is simply a way of saying that the gospel does not have the right to stand in judgment over culture - and that will not do


"Basically I am convinced that men who do not make praying their first priority in life and ministry should not preach or pastor. As preachers they will be confusing models of a Christian man, and as shepherds they will not show willingness to die for the sheep...As we seek faith and pray together, the power will be in the preaching, and other matters such as style will begin to take their own course."

-Jack Miller

[HT: Buzzard Blog]


Insight into the message of the cross cannot be gained apart from the work of the Spirit.

In that sense, the sense that one can summarize Christian beliefs, they 'understood' the message of the cross. But what does anyone truly understand the message of the cross, apart from brokenness, contrition, repentance, and faith? To repeat, rather mechanically, the nature of the transaction that Christians think took place at Golgotha is one think; to look at God and his holiness, and people and their sin, from the perspective of the cross, is life-changing.

Do not think that you can adopt the philosophies and values of the world as if such choices do not have a profoundly detrimental impact on the church. Do not think you can get away with it. Do not kid yourself that you are with it, an avant-garde Christian, when in fact you are leaving the gospel behind and doing damage to God's church.


Finals are over! Now onto Christmas vacation which means I get to catch up on reading. But a little tidbit from DA Carson's The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians.

A cross centered ministry is characterized by the Spirit's power and is vindicated in transformed lives.


I've watched Anthony Bradley since I heard his talk from the Reform and Resurge Conference (Driscoll). Since then Anthony has continued to impress me. He writes, rather frequently, at the World Emagazine. His latest contribution covers the Omaha shooting, noting that Murray was raised in an evangelical church and homeschooled.

He writes:

What, if anything, is happening in evangelical sub-culture that seems to be producing a generation of angry, vengeful young men (and angry middle-aged blogging men)? As the story of Murray’s life unfolds, I’m sure we will learn more about whether or not his perceptions were actually true. For now, it seems that evangelicals may need to start paying more attention to what’s happening to young men. Over the years I’ve seen this more and more in youth and college culture: In order to be loved by the masses one needs to look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model, be extremely outgoing, and publicly sinless. There are even some ministries and churches over the years that targeted “popular” kids in high schools and colleges to draw others. Many young people perceive this to be the case in the church and harbor anger.
May we build the church that Christ calls us to build, may we preach the message that He calls us to preach, understanding our woeful inadequacy in doing so.


Stats on the state of the church in America and Poverty in the global economy

Church Planting. (see here)
1.) 195,000,000 unchurched people in American today. Making it one of the top four unchurched nations in the world.
2.) No county in America has a greater church population than it did 10 years ago
3.) combined communicant membership declined 10%
4.) each year up to 4,000 churches close their doors, with 1500 being planted
5.) of 350,000 churches, 4 out of 5 are plateaued or declining
6.) one denomination found that 80% of her membership came from these churches
7.) the single most effective evangelistic method is planting new churches

World Poverty
1.) 1.5 billion people live on less than a $1 a day
2.) same don't have access to clean water
3.) 6 million children die due to malnutrition before their 5th birthday
4.) 8 million people go to bed hungry everyday, 3 million are children
5.) only 10% of this number hunger due due to famines
6.) food production has decreased due to soil quality


Around the web

.:. New issue of Reformation 21 is up!
.:. Darrin Patrick (Acts 29 VP) on the Emerging Church
.:. Carl Trueman on various and sundry things, and The Person and Work of Christ
.:. New Sovereign Grace Music Website
.:. Christ Saturated Quotes

Biblical Womanhood
.:. At Resurgence a four part series on the Ideal Women by Wendy Alsup

Gospel Living
.:. Pray at every inclination - Martin Lloyd Jones at the Irish Calvinist
.:. Get back to the Gospel - Justin Buzzard

Christian Maturity
.:. John Piper on young adults not acting their age.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

“The paradox is amazing. The Creator assumed the human frailty of his creatures. The Eternal One entered time. The all-powerful made himself vulnerable. The all-holy exposed himself to temptation. And in the end the immortal died.”

- John Stott