Farewell, Myron

myroncope1-a.jpg  News today out of Pittsburgh announced the passing of Hall of Fame sportscaster/journalist, Myron Cope.    

Those of you outside of Pittsburgh may not appreciate what a legend Cope is.  While health issues over the past few years has made this day long expected, it is still a big loss to those in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania – to  all Steeler fans. 

Cope, the inventor of the Terrible Towel, was a longtime newspaperman turned broadcaster.  For thirty five years his combination nasally , gravely, sqeaky voice (yes, that combination is apparently possible) biasedly called the play-by-play. His voice was grating to all who were not used to it, but it was an operatic rallying-cry throughout Steeler Nation 

Myron will be missed. 

Check out these videos: 

Tribute to Myron Cope

Myron’s Narration of the Terrible Towel  

My Sin is Ever Before Me


‘My sin is ever before me’ -Psalm 51.3  

A humble soul sees that he can stay no more from sin, than the heart can from panting, and the pulse from beating. He sees his heart and life to be fuller of sin, than the firmament is of stars; and this keeps him low. He sees that sin is so bred in the bone, that till his bones, as Joseph’s, be carried out of the Egypt of this world, it will not out. Though sin and grace were never born together, and though they shall not die together, yet while the believer lives, these two must live together; and this keeps him humble. 

-Thomas Brooks, English Puritan

Easy Chairs & Hard Words – Part 4

by Douglas Wilson

We join a conservation in progress; it is between a young theological questioner who grew up in a typical Evangelical church, and an older pastor from a historical theological tradition.  


Pastor Spenser shifted easily in his seat while I carefully thought over my next question. “Some of my friends at my church have figured out that I have been coming to see you,” I said.  

Pastor Spenser nodded, and waited.  

“Naturally,” I said, “they are somewhat concerned.”  

“Naturally. About what?”  

“Well, they say that Christians who believe in the exhaustive sovereignty of God are setting themselves up.”  


“For the temptation which says that because God controls everything, then the way I live doesn’t really matter.”  

“I see. In other words, if I am elect, then my sins won’t damn me, and if I am not, then all the good works in the world won’t save me. Is that it?”  

“Yes. That is exactly it. If the whole thing was settled before the world began, then why bother? My friends know that there are true Christians who believe this, but they think that, because of this theology, these Christians will tend to become careless about how they live.”  

“Why should we take responsibility for our actions after we have embraced a theology which cuts the nerve of personal responsibility?”  

“Right. If God controls everything, then what room is there for personal holiness?”  

Pastor Spenser thought for a moment. “The problem is not with your friends’ concern for personal holiness. That is admirable. All Christians should set their faces against carnal living on the part of professing Christians. But it does no good to oppose carnal living with carnal reasoning.”  

“What do you mean?”  

“When someone is whooping it up down at the bars, or sleeping with their girlfriend, why do we say it is sin?”  

“Is this a trick question?”  

Pastor Spenser grinned. “You might say that. Why do we call such things sin?”  

“Because the Bible does.”  

“Exactly. So this carnal living we have been talking about is a lifestyle that is not in submission to the clear teaching of the Word of God.”  

“Well, sure. But I still don’t see where you are going with this.”  

“Now if carnal living is a lifestyle that does not submit to God’s Word, then how should we define carnal reasoning?” 

“The same way, I suppose?”  

“Right. It is not enough to submit what we do externally to God; we must also submit the way we think. Your friends are trying to defend God’s standards for living by abandoning His standards for thinking. It cannot be successful.”  

“Is there a passage where this point is clear?”  

“Yes, in Philippians. Chapter 2, verses 12 and 13.”  

I turned to Philippians and read. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” I looked up.  

“What does the passage say God is doing?” Pastor Spenser asked.  

I looked down again. “It says that He is working in the Philippians, both in willing and doing, and that the result is His good pleasure.”  

“And what would carnal reasoning do with that?”  

“Well, the response would be that if God is doing the willing, and if God is doing the doing, and the result is whatever He wants, then there is no reason for me to put myself out. It is going to happen anyway.”  

“Right. The reasoning says that if God is going to do the work, then why should I have to?”  

I nodded, and Pastor Spenser went on.  

“But what application of this truth does Paul command the Philippians to obey?”  

I looked at the passage again. “He tells them to work out their own salvation, with fear and trembling.” I glanced down further. “And in the next verse he goes on to specific ethical instruction – to avoid murmuring and disputing.”  

I sat and thought for a moment. “But my friends would say that the application they are making is obvious – common sense.”  

“Well, it certainly is common. But is it biblical?”  

“Why do so many Christians fall for this line of reasoning then? It seems like a trap that is extremely easy to fall into.”  

“Well, yes, it easy to fall into. But it is also easy to drink too much, not watch your tongue, lust after women, and so forth. And these are things which the church recognizes as sin, and warns the people against. But carnal reasoning is also easy, and almost no one warns the people.”  

“Why not?”  

“Sheep are hungry because shepherds don’t feed them. Shepherds don’t feed them because shepherds don’t have food.” Pastor Spenser leaned forward in his seat. “The shepherds don’t have food because they don’t study their Bibles.”  

“You think it is obvious in the Word?”  

“Certainly. When the apostle Paul magnified the prerogatives of the sovereign God, he fully anticipated the response of carnal reasoning.” Pastor Spenser leaned back, closed his eyes, and quoted, “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’” A modern pastor, in the unlikely event that someone asked him this, would say that it was a good question, and that he wrestles with it often himself. Paul tells the questioner to shut up and sit down. ‘But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?’”  

“Paul doesn’t answer the question then?”  

Pastor Spenser opened his eyes. “Oh, he does. It just isn’t the answer carnal reason wants.”  

“So what is the answer?”  

“The answer is God – the same answer that is given at the end of the book of Job. Carnal reason doesn’t see a real answer there either. But believe me, it is a real answer. The answer is the ground of reality; the answer is God.”  

“What happens at the end of the book of Job?”  

“The questions raised in the book are conducive to carnal reason; indeed, even non-Christians are attracted to the first part of the book of Job. As they would put it, ‘It addresses the human condition.’ But then, at the end of the book, God comes in, with glory and thunder. And do you know what? He doesn’t answer any of the impertinent questions; rather, He poses some sobering questions of His own. ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’”  

I nodded. “And He asks where Job was when the universe was created.”  

“The question is not irrelevant. It is the heart of the matter. Discussions of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility very rarely display any understanding at all of Who the Creator is.”  

“But my friends would say that you are making God responsible for evil, and that they are concerned to protect God’s honor and glory.”  

Pastor Spenser looked at me intently. “It is true that the affirmation of God’s total control over all things causes some to blaspheme. But your friends need not be concerned for God’s glory; man’s slanders and blasphemies do not touch Him. Such slanderers are pelting the sun with wadded-up balls of tissue paper.”  

“They are stumbling over something though.”  

“They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”  

“Now, see? Why do you have to put these things so strongly? Doesn’t that cause people to react to what you are teaching? They were appointed to stumble?”  

“That wasn’t my choice of words. I was quoting 1 Peter 2:8.”  

“Oh. Oops.”  

“Your friends are concerned that God be seen as good. But seen as good by whom? Those who believe the Word of God will know that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Of course He is good – by definition. And those who do not believe the Word of God will persist in thinking that there is a tribunal or court somewhere in which God will one day be arraigned. On the day of judgment, their folly will be apparent to all – even to them.”  

“So how do we bring this back to the original point?”  

“The original point was the concern that the doctrine of God’s sovereignty would be made into a cushion for sin. My answer to this is that we must, in all things, recognize God as God. We must do so in how we live holy lives, but we must also do so in why we live holy lives. We are to live in a holy way because God has commanded it.”  

“But you would also say that what God has commanded the believer He has also given the believer.”  

“Well, certainly.”  

“I honestly see why carnal reason has a problem with this.”  

“And I honestly see why carnal men want to lust after beautiful women. But what does the Bible say?”  

“What do you mean?”  

“What is the greatest commandment?”  

“That we love God.”  

“And what is the first fruit of the Spirit?”  

“Love.” I said. “I see.”  

“What do you see?” Pastor Spenser asked.  

“This takes us back to Philippians. We are commanded to work out what God works in.”  

“Right.” he said. “Nothing less.”


This is Part 4 in a series of 6 posts titled Easy Chairs & Hard Words.

What Does It Look Like to be Smitten by God?

dev-4043.jpgAnother keen insight from Weak Dave:

What does it look like to be smitten by God?

Freshly convicted of sin.   Freshly contrite.  Freshly undone in an Isaiah 6 sort-of-way.  Freshly humble.   Feeling very loved/cherished by God.  Freshly overwhelmed with Jesus and His salvation of me, to the point that everything else in my life, even the really good stuff, pales by comparison.  Freshly joyful, peaceful, regardless of my circumstances.   Freshly loving and gracious toward others, especially non-Christians, even the impossible to love, while at the same time, willing to draw boundaries.   And a surprising-but-healthy indifference about my performance/success/righteousness, knowing that it’s not about me and my performance, but about Jesus and His performance.

The nicest, sweetest, kindest, most-loving thing that my Daddy in Heaven ever does for me, is not vocational/avocational/financial/relational success, but fresh conviction of sin.  Little sense of sin, little need of Jesus, and little joy and peace, unless I have easy circumstances, pleasing to my flesh.

WeakDave, encouraging strong Christians to ask God to overhaul us – especially WeakDave, so we’re more honest, with God, self, others, about our weakness/failure in following Jesus, so that non-Christians are awed by His supernatural power in humbling proud, clueless, hypocrites (2 Cor 4:7-11)

This message was sent by: GospelFriendships, 13 E Broad St, Hatfield, PA 19440

Global Missions Glossary

Adherent: A follower of a particular religion, church or philosophy. This is the broadest possible category of such followers and includes professing and affiliated adults and also their children (practicing and non-practicing) who may reside in a given area or country.  

Adoption (of an unreached people): Making a commitment to an unreached people until there is an indigenous, reproducing church established among them. Aspects may include prayer, research, and networking toward church planting. Sometimes called “people group adoption” or adopt-a-people dev-tcp1041.jpg

Advocate: People group advocates are individuals who have committed themselves to one specific people group (ethnic group), to learn about them, their environment, culture, demographics, status, etc. They pray about how churches can be established among them. They may network and partner with others to encourage their involvement.  

Affinity Bloc: Families of peoples related in aspects such as religion, culture, history, politics, and geography. In nearly every bloc there are widely dissimilar and unrelated linguistic minorities, but often there is one particular culture that is dominant. 

Church planting: Missionary role of evangelism, discipleship and training of leaders for the establishment of a body of believers, or a church. Does not refer to a physical building.  

Closed Country: Countries that limit or prevent Christian ministry by expatriates as missionaries. Alternatively they are called creative-access countries, restricted access countries, closing countries, restrictive countries, sensitive countries.  

Cluster: Grouping of peoples within each affinity bloc which are closely related peoples and, for strategic purposes, may be clustered together. These relationships are often based on a common identity of language and name, but sometimes on the basis of culture, religion, economy, or dominance of one group over another.  

Collaboration: To combine forces and resources to meet a common goal.  

Contextualization: Adapting a biblical concept, mission method, etc., without changing the substance, to make it understood within the context of an ethnic culture. 

Ethnocentrism: Seeing the world through self-colored glasses, so that your culture always looks best and becomes the pattern everyone else should fit into. By no means is ethnocentrism restricted to the majority culture in a country, but it is a nearly universal tendency among humans. 

Ethnolinguistic People: An ethnic or racial group speaking its own language. A people group distinguished by its self-identity with traditions of common descent, history, customs and language. Also known as a people.  

Evangelism: An effective presentation of the Gospel by someone from the same culture, and within a culture where the missiological breakthrough of a viable church has already taken place.  

Expatriate: One who has taken up residence in a foreign country.  

Field: The location where ministry, church planting, and evangelism takes place.  

Field-based: Strategy determined by those on the field, rather than from those at the “home,” sending, or resource base.  

Frontier: Pertaining to unreached areas or peoples.  

Frontier Missions: Cross-cultural evangelism to People Groups where no missiological breakthroughs have occurred (or among a People Group where no viable church exists).  

Harvest Field: All who are not true Christians; not part of the Body of Christ.  

Harvest Force: Those of the Body of Christ who are involved in a direct or indirect way in helping to bring in the harvest of souls.  

Indigenous peoples or persons: Those individuals or groups who originate from a particular area; a national, a native.  

Joshua Project Unreached Peoples List: A listing of “country-distinct” peoples each over 10,000 in population that were chosen by their ethnolinguistic distinction and their status of being less than 2% Evangelical and less that 5% Christian adherents.  (see Joshua Project)

Martyr: A Christian believer who dies in a situation of witness as a result of human hostility.  

Mission: The loving work of God to bring humankind to himself as the Church (missio dei). Secondarily, the overall ministry of the Church for world evangelization. 

Missiology: The study of missions and mission strategies; the theology of missions; how and why we do missions. 

Mission agency: A Christian organization helping to further God’s work in the world. “Mission board” and “sending agency” are virtually the same thing. 

Missionary: One who is sent with a message. The Christian missionary is one commissioned by a local church to evangelize, plant churches and disciple people away from his home area, among people of a different race, culture or language (i.e. cross culture).  

Missions Resource Organization: These agencies support the work of field missions and missionaries by offering information, resources, materials, and mobilization of the Church.  

National: Any person who is from the country to which a missionary is going.  

Network: An extended group of people with similar interests or concerns who interact and remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support.  

Non-Resident Missionary: Professional career missionary who is working towards the evangelization of a particular people or cluster, but resides outside the group, usually in a city with good international communications facilities and no surveillance. 

Para-church: Refers to a Christian organization independent of any church denominational structures. 

Partnership: An association of two or more autonomous bodies who have formed a trusting relationship and agreed upon expectations by sharing complementary strengths and resources, to reach their mutual goal.  

People Group: A significantly large sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity with one another. From the viewpoint of evangelization, this is the largest possible group within which the gospel can be spread without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.  

Prayer journey: A trip to pray on location for the lost. Team members may spend extended time prayerwalking, asking God to bring the Gospel to that unreached people group. It does not entail evangelism or mercy ministries.  

Prayerwalking: Praying “on-site with insight.” Taking prayers outside the church walls as we walk through an area. Praying in the very places we expect to see God bring forth His answers. Usually low profile and unobtrusive in appearance. 

Praying Through the Window: Prayer initiatives developed for the purpose of worldwide focused prayer for the countries and peoples in the 10/40 Window.  (see Pray Thru the Window) 

Reached/unreached: A term that is widely used today to describe people groups and areas that have or have not responded to the preaching of the gospel. Strictly, it should be a measure of the exposure of a people group to the gospel and not a measure of the response.  

Regular Missions: Pertaining to cross cultureal evangelism by a different-culture worker, in association with same-cultural workers if possible, where a missiological breakthrough has already taken place.  

Strategy Coordinator: One who develops and implements a strategy to reach a people group, working with a team or network. Support: The finances and prayer needed and given for mission trips & work. 

Syncretism: Fusion of differing systems of belief. Mixing Christianity with heresy.

Synergy: The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Cooperative interaction among groups that creates an enhanced combined effect.  

Tentmaker: A cross-cultural witness who works at a paying, usually secular, job overseas. Often they are able to gain entry into “closed” countries which restrict traditional mission efforts.  

10/40 Window: The area of the world between latitudes 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator in the Eastern hemisphere, covering North Africa, Middle East and Asia. The window has in view most of the world’s areas of greatest physical and spiritual need, most of the world’s least-reached peoples and most of the governments that oppose Christianity. (see 10/40 Window.org and Window International Network) 

Unreached /Least Reached People Group A people or people group among whom there is no viable indigenous community of believing Christians (i.e.  no church) with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people without outside (cross-cultural) assistance.  The general defining critieria is a People Group that is less than 2% Evangelical Christian and less than 5% Christian Adherents.  (see Joshua Project) 

World Evangelization: The whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world. The goal of giving every person the opportunity to hear the gospel in a way they understand, to become disciples of Christ, and to join with others in fellowship without leaving their own culture or people.  

A Mind for Missions: Global Evangelism

world-christian.jpg With our church having just come through the front end of our first missions conference in at least a generation there are a number of people who are sensitive to what God is doing in the world, and hungry to explore what part he has in mind for us – the average Christian.  Wanting to take advantage of the high interest while it is still at its keenest, I thought I’d suggest a few books – some that are are almost must reads – for anyone wanting to learn about the advancement of the Gospel as a global enterprise.   

And while I have in mind those people from our church, I know that there are many others out there searching the web for recommendations of good mission books.  The following list is for those wanting to dig deeper, not necessarily for those who are experienced in mobilization and sending. 

This is in no way exhaustive, so feel free to add to the list.   

Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper 

The Church is BIGGER Than You Think by Patrick Johnstone 

A Mind For Mission by Paul Borthwick 

How to Be a World-Class Christian by Paul Borthwick 

Christian Mission in the Modern World by John Stott 

What in the World is God Doing? by Gordon Olson

Transforming Mission by David Bosch 

Run With the Vision by Bob Sjogren and Bill & Amy Stearns

Cat & Dog Theology

It seems to be going great.

Our church is in the middle of hosting the Cat & Dog Theology seminar as part of our missions conference. And despite those reservations that would usually be expected when a conservative church hosts a seminar with such a preposterous sounding theme, those in attendance seem to be benefiting from the teaching and experience.

To be honest, this is what I expected when we scheduled the conference. I’ve been familiar with this seminar, and the host agency, UnveilinGLORY, for some time. We hosted this same seminar in the previous church I served, and we used the material that pre-dated Cat & Dog Theology in the church I served before that.

The seminar title catches your attention, but most people are not quite sure what to expect. It’s easy to assume that even if the teaching is kosher, how much depth could there possibly be? But you’d be surprised.

Cat & Dog Theology is based on an old joke about the differences between cats and dogs. It is said that while dogs have masters, cats have staff. And the sad truth is that too many Christians live in relationship to God more like cats who assume God exists simply to provide for us, with little regard for His Glory, His Purpose, and His Mission, except as it benefits us. Dogs, on the other hand, delight to be in their master’s presence. And in that sense we ought to be far more dogged.

What has any of this to do with World Evangelization? That’s a common question, once people understand the basis of the conference, and overcome initial apprehensions and skepticisms.

The fundamental motive and goal of Christian mission should be God-centered: it is for the purpose of declaring His glory among all Nations. While the result of effective mission will be the salvation of peoples from every tribe, tongue, and Nation, the ultimate goal (and result) is the gathering of heartfelt worshippers of the One True God from among all the Peoples of the Earth.

Cat & Dog Theology, by helping unveil the Glory of God, the mission of God (Missio Dei) revealed consistently from Genesis to Revelation, and the call to all Christians to be participants in this mission, not only moves us out into the world, but it reminds us of the ultimate reason we go.

The conference continues and concludes tonight.

If you are in the area I invite you to join us. For readers of this blog who are not part of Walnut Hill Church, I highly recommend hosting the Cat & Dog Theology seminar in your church. It will make a world of difference, as you consider how you can – and why you should – make a difference in the world.

For those of you from Walnut Hill, I invite you to comment on what you learned and what you thought. It should make for some enlightening discussions.

Easy Chairs & Hard Words – Part 3

by Douglas Wilson 

“At last,” I thought. “Now we should be able to talk about what brought me here in the first place.” Pastor Spenser and I were both settling in chairs with the conversation already well under way. 

“I know what your position is,” I said. “But I am afraid that I still don’t know why.” 

“And what is my position?” he said, smiling. 

“Well, I assume that you believe that it is not possible for a Christian to lose his salvation…that’s correct, isn’t it.” 

“Sort of.” 

I grinned. “Way to come down clearly on the issue.” 

Pastor Spenser laughed. “There would be a lot more peace in the church if Christians learned to frame their questions more biblically.” 

“How do you mean?” 

“The question is posed as to whether a Christian can lose his salvation, the pros and cons line up, and debate the question as it was posed. But salvation is not a personal possession of ours, like car keys, which can be misplaced by us.” 

“So what is the real question?” 

“The way the question is usually asked, we wonder if a Christian can lose his salvation, which is the same as asking whether a Christian can lose Christ. Some say yes, and others no.” 

“And you would say…?” 

“I would ask whether Christ can lose a Christian.” 

“I don’t get you.” 

“Christians are those who are redeemed or purchased for God through the blood of Christ. We have been bought with a price. Now if someone, so purchased, winds up in Hell, then who has lost that person’s salvation?” 

“I’m sorry, I must be thick. I still don’t get what you are driving at.” 

“Christians cannot lose their salvation, for the simple reason that their salvation does not belong to them. It belongs to Christ. If anyone is to lose it, it must be He. And He has promised not to.” 

“Where does the Bible teach that we are His possession?” 

“There are many passages which cover this…too many to cover tonight. Why don’t we just look at several? I’ll give you a list of others.” 

“Fair enough.” 

“In Revelation 5:9-10, the new song in honor of the Lamb states that He has redeemed us to God by His blood – from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.” 


“In 1 Corinthians 6:20, it says, `For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 

“It seems pretty clear.” 

“Right. In salvation, Christ does not become our property; we become His. So in discussing this, we must remember that all the saving is done by Him. Those who want to maintain that salvation can be lost are really saying that He is one who loses it.” 

“This throws the whole debate into a completely different light.” 

“It does. And frankly, it is the difference between grace and works.” 

“How so?” 

“To assert that a man can lose his salvation through what he does or does not do is to assert, in the final analysis, salvation by works.” 

“But the church in which I grew up taught that you can lose your salvation, but they also preached salvation by grace.” 

“Not quite. They preached a conversion experience by grace. But how is that experience to be maintained and protected? And by whom? They begin with the Spirit, but seek to finish through human effort.”  I must have looked confused, so he continued. 

“Were you ever taught that you could, by committing certain sins, place yourself outside of Christ?” 

“Yes, and it terrified me.” 

“Now, let’s say that you committed such a sin, and then were killed in a car wreck? Where would you go?” 

“To Hell.” 

“And why?” 

“Because I had sinned, and a holy God cannot look on sin.” 

“And your salvation, or lack of it, was up to whom?”  

“You are arguing that it was up to me. I can tell you that it certainly felt that way. The more I wanted to serve God, the more condemned I felt.” 

“Don’t you see that your insecurity was the result of your salvation riding on a roulette wheel…every day?” 

“How so?” 

“If you died on Monday, you go to be with the Lord. If you died on Thursday, off to Hell. On Sunday night, you are heaven-bound again.” 

“You are saying that this is salvation by works?” 

“What else can we call it? And it produces two kinds of people. One group is confident in their own righteousness, but they have watered down the righteous standards of God in order to delude themselves this way. The other group is comprised of sincere people, who, because they are honest, realize that they are under condemnation.” 

“It seems a little strong to say that they are professing salvation by works, though.” 

“Paul rebuked Peter to his face at Antioch, and why? Because Peter did something as “trivial” as withdrawing table fellowship from Gentiles temporarily. But Paul knew that the gospel was threatened by this. How much more is it threatened through teaching that a Christian can do a “work” which will blow his salvation away? This teaching makes salvation depend upon the works of men.” 

“You contrasted this with grace.” 

“Correct. Salvation by grace is a gift from God. “Salvation” by works is man’s attempt to earn his way into the presence of God, or in this case, his attempt to earn his right to stay there.” 

“But what is to prevent someone from saying they are “saved by grace,” and then going to sin up a storm?” 

Pastor Spenser laughed. “Nothing at all. Sinners can say and do what they please. Until the judgment.” 

“But how would you answer the objection?” 

“There are two things worth noting about it. One is that having to answer it places me in good company. The apostle Paul had to answer the same objection in Romans 6, against those who objected to his message of grace. Secondly, the answer is the one Paul gives. Recipients of grace do not get to decide to receive forgiveness grace, while passing on death to sin grace. How can we who died to sin, still live in it?” 

“But aren’t there some who teach that salvation can be lost simply to keep this type of person from presumption?” 

“There are some who insist on teaching that Christians can lose their salvation out of a concern they have for ‘holiness’. They say that if this is not done, then people will abuse grace. But if you hold the biblical perspective, you do not consider grace a possession of ours, to be abused or not. Rather, grace belongs to God, and He never abuses it.” 

“This means what?” 

“In Ephesians 2:8-9, we learn that we are saved by grace through faith. In the next verse, we learn that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works prepared beforehand by God. God’s grace is never truly abused because it belongs to God. Those outside abuse the name grace, but they cannot touch the thing itself.” 

“You sound like you have very little respect for those on the other side of this issue.” 

“That is not quite true. Some of them are teaching another gospel, and the condemnation of the apostle is sufficient for them. But there are others who are true Christians, and who hold this position because of their reading of certain texts…Hebrews 10:26, for example.” 

“You respect them?” 

“Yes. I believe them to be wrong, but their error proceeds from a desire to be honest with the text. With the purveyors of a false gospel, the error comes from an almost complete confusion of grace and works.” 

“What about Hebrews 10:26?” 

“We are almost out of time. Why don’t I read that passage, adding some comments of my own based on the context of Hebrews. Then you can go back through the book with that context in mind. It should be helpful in chapter 6 as well.” 


 “For if we sin willfully by going back to the sacrifices of bulls and goats after we have received the knowledge of the truth that Christ was the once for all sacrifice for sin, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins because temple sacrifice of bulls and goats is a system that is fading away, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries because they are sacrificing their bulls and goats in a temple that will be destroyed in just a few years.” 

I laughed. “Is all that in the Greek?” 

Pastor Spenser grinned. “No, but it is in the context. Read through the book of Hebrews with the impending destruction of Jerusalem in mind, and consider the problem caused by professing Christians who were being tempted to return to Jerusalem in order to sacrifice there. The fire that was going to consume the enemies of God in this passage is not hellfire.” 

“So what is the basic issue here?” 

“It is grace; grace and works. Works is a barren mother; she will never have any children, much less gracious children. Grace is fruitful; her children are many, and they all work hard.”


This is Part 3 in a series of 6.


The Better We Know God

dev-12307.jpgFor the better we know God, the more we will want all of our existence to revolve around him, and we will see that the only goals and plans that really matter are those that are somehow tied to God himself, and to our eternity with him.  Did not Jesus tell his followers to store up for themselves treasures in heaven                   (Matthew 6:19-21)? 

D.A. Carson in The Cross and Christian Ministry

Easy Chairs & Hard Words – Part 2


by Douglas Wilson

I had thought of a question during the week which I thought would bring our conversation back to some evangelical “basics.” My sessions with Pastor Spencer were unsettling and fascinating both; on the one hand I was attracted by his approach to the Scriptures, but on the other I was concerned about the danger of “too much theology” getting in the way of basic Christianity. After we had settled in our chairs, I presented my concern.  

“Why should Christians discuss the sorts of doctrines we have been discussing? Shouldn’t we just stick to the gospel? Sinful men need to be told that they must be born again, and here we sit, week after week, splitting theological hairs.”  

Pastor Spencer chuckled. “To be sure, sinful men need to be told that they must be born again. What would you say if one of them asked you what on earth that meant?”  

I stared at him. “Isn’t that obvious? It means that men must become Christians.”  

Pastor Spencer took a sip of his coffee. “How does one do that?”  

I thought for a moment. “Well, the person must repent of his sins, and must put his faith in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for sinners.”  

Pastor Spenser smiled. “Very good–so far. Most Christians would leave the cross out of it altogether–they would say something like `ask Jesus into your heart,’ or `make a commitment to Christ.’ Now what happens after he repents and believes?”  

“He is born again.”  

“Now are you aware that this order–`Repent, believe, and then you will be born again’–is not in the Bible?  

I was actually aware of no such thing, so I shook my head. “What do you mean?”  

“How do you know that the biblical order is not, `You must be born again, in order to repent and believe?’”  

I think my mouth was hanging open. I had never heard anything like this before.  

“You mean that the new birth is first?”  

Pastor Spencer nodded.  

“In the order you have assumed, man makes a choice, and then he is born again. But the Bible places the choice regarding the new birth in God’s hands, not man’s.”  

“Where?” I asked.  

“There are three basic arguments from Scripture for this. The first is how the Spirit’s work is described; the second is the nature of birth; and the third would be express statements of Scripture to this effect.  

I nodded. “OK, let’s start with the first.”  

He had me turn to John 3:7-8, and I read. “Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” I looked up.  

Pastor Spencer said, “Would you agree that it is fairly common for Christians to evangelize by telling people how to be born again?”  

“Certainly. Isn’t that what evangelism is?”  

“No. Evangelism is preaching the death of Christ for sinners, and the necessity of repentance and belief. Telling people how to be born again is like telling people how to understand where the wind comes from, and where it is going. The new birth is mysterious – it is the work of the Spirit of God, not the work of man.”  

“So you are saying that the new birth cannot be controlled by men.”  

“Yes. I am saying that the wind blows where He pleases.”  

“What must men do then?”  

“They must repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  

“So repentance and belief are what the man contributes?”  

“In a way. It is the man who repents and believes, but the Spirit has made that repentance and belief possible by giving the sinner a new heart through regeneration. So, for example, repentance is described as something men do (Acts 26:20), but it is also seen as a gift from God (2 Tim. 2:25). In contrast, the new birth is never described as anything done by man. It is always shown as the imperial work of God.”  

“You mentioned the nature of birth. What did you mean by that?”  

“Jesus taught that the new birth is necessary. From this, many have falsely concluded that it is a command to be obeyed by us. But `be born’ is a passive verb, not active. `Repent’ and `believe’ are active.”  

“What does that mean?”  

“It means that those who are born again are recipients. A birth is not something one volunteers for; it is something that happens to him.”  

“Can you illustrate?”  

“Sure. I was in the Navy for four years, and I am a Spencer. I joined the Navy (voluntarily) and my family (not voluntarily). When Jesus compared the start of the Christian life to a birth, which type of `joining’ did He have in mind?”  

“The second, I guess,” I said reluctantly.  

“And which type of joining is presented in most modern evangelism?”  

“The first.” I didn’t know why I felt so miserable.  

“Exactly. One of the major problems we have in the church today is the result of well-meaning but unbiblical recruiters, instead of biblical evangelists. We have even fallen to the point where we have borrowed, on a large scale, techniques of recruitment from the world.”  

“How would you summarize this point about the verb `be born’?”  

“By saying that if the new birth is what many describe it to be, there is no way to express in the language of birth what is happening. Birth would be an extremely clumsy metaphor for what is happening. How does one birth himself?”  

I turned to the next point. “You said that there were several verses that make your point about the new birth.”  

Pastor Spencer nodded. “Turn to James 1:18. Why don’t you read it out loud?”  

“Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures.”  

“Notice it does not say, `Of our own will He brought us forth by the word of truth. . . .”  

“Where is the other passage you had in mind?”  

John 1:12-13.”  

I turned the pages slowly, thinking hard.  

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  

I looked at Pastor Spencer. “Do you believe there are no legitimate questions about what you are saying?”  

He laughed. “I would have to be an insufferable coxcomb to say something like that. Someone could say, for example, that some passive verbs can be obeyed by us–`be filled with the Spirit’–and he could point out that God gives the right to become His children to those who received Him because they received Him. But of course I believe such objections, while valid, can still be answered.”  

“There is one thing I still don’t understand,” I said. “I began by asking whether or not we are splitting theological hairs in our discussions. What practical difference does this all make? I mean, an average non-Christian isn’t going to know whether the man preaching to him believes what you are saying or not. So why bother with it? Why don’t we just preach the gospel?”  

“To say that the non-Christian could not tell the difference is not to say there is no difference.”  

“What does that mean?”  

“Does this make any difference to the evangelist? How he prays, prepares, preaches?”  

“What difference could it make?”  

“The two preachers have a completely different understanding of their respective tasks. The one believes himself to be going to the sick, supplied by God with the proper medicine, and his task is to persuade the patients to take the medicine. The other man is going, like Ezekiel, to preach in a graveyard.”  


“The Lord told him to prophesy to a valley full of dry bones. I dare say that Ezekiel did so with the full knowledge that if something were to happen it would have to be the result of the Spirit’s work. It certainly would not be because of anything Ezekiel did in his own power.”  

“But all evangelists know that God must empower them. . . .”  

“Yes, but to do what? The one seeks to raise consciousness, while the other seeks to raise the dead. All godly evangelists seek to be dependent upon God in the performance of their task; but their respective theologies will determine their understanding of that task. Believe me, I have preached the gospel both ways, and I know the difference it makes.”  

I scratched my chin thoughtfully. “So you are saying that Calvinism will result in powerful evangelism..”  

“No. And please don’t call it Calvinism.”  

I laughed. “I can’t talk about it without words. What do you want me to call it?”  

“Well, we are talking about the new birth. Let’s call it the new birth.”  

“OK, OK. Why did you say `No’?”  

“There have been many Christians with an accurate understanding of the gospel who have done little or nothing with it. There have been others who, like Apollos, have done a lot with a deficient understanding.”  

“So this means. . . .”  

“It means that if a man is empowered by the Spirit of God, more use will be made of him if he has an accurate understanding of the new birth.” Pastor Spencer grinned. “People who compare George Whitefield with John Wesley are being, shall we say, unscientific? The real question is whether Wesley would have been more powerful had he understood this, and whether Whitefield would have been less powerful had he not. And these questions cannot be answered through historical study; half of the comparison you must make didn’t happen. Consequently we are driven to the Scriptures to settle the matter.”  

“Right,” I said, “Back to the Scriptures.”


This post is Part 2 in a series of 6. It originally appeared as part of a series in Credenda Agenda.


Seeker Sensitive vs. Cost of Discipleship

cross-dali.jpgIn our culture of “seeker sensitivity” and radical inclusivity, the great temptation is to compromise the cost of discipleship in order to draw a larger crowd.  With the most sincere hearts, we do not want to see anyone walk away from Jesus because of the discomfort of his cross, so we clip the claws on the Lion a little, and we clean up a bit the bloody Passion we are called to follow.

Shane Claiborne, in The Irresistible Revolution

Easy Chairs & Hard Words – Part 1

by Douglas Wilson
We join a conservation in progress; it is between a young theological questioner who grew up in a typical Evangelical church, and an older pastor from a more historical theological tradition.

I stirred nervously in my seat, and cleared my throat. I was not at all sure I wanted to ask the next question, but I also realized I had to. “You have already told me you have no desire to be called a Calvinist.”

“That is correct,” Pastor Spenser nodded.

“Is this a concern over party labels, or is there any theological area where you disagree with the Calvinists?”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, I was talking with someone at my home church, and he told me something that horrified me. He said that Calvinists believe in something they call limited atonement. They think that Jesus only died for Christians, and not for all men.”

Pastor Spenser laughed, and then said, “I’ll answer your question, if you promise to hear me out.”

I had a sinking feeling that this meant he did believe it, but I nodded my head anyway.

“First, all orthodox Christians believe in a limited atonement. Every Christian who believes that there is an eternal Hell limits the atonement. One group limits its power or effectiveness, and the other limits its extent. But both limit the atonement.”  I nodded, so he went on.

“Secondly, I don’t know who came up with the phrase ‘Limited Atonement‘ to describe this position. He may have been a theological genius, but when it comes to public relations, he must have been a chucklehead.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“One fellow says he believes in a limited atonement, and another says he believes in an unlimited atonement. Which one appears to be doing justice to the Scriptures?”

“The second one, of course.”

Pastor Spenser smiled. “Of course. God so loved the world; Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; One died for all, and so forth.”

I nodded again, wondering where on earth he was going.

“Now suppose we hear the same two fellows, but this time the language is changed. The first says now that he believes in a definite atonement, and the second affirms his belief in an indefinite atonement. Who sounds more biblical now?”

“Well, now the first sounds more biblical.”

“Of course. Christ laid down His life for the sheep; Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it; and He gave Himself up, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed. When He went to the cross, Christ had a definite end in view – for a definite group of people.”

“It seems to me that when it is put the first way it shows that the Arminians do justice to the universality of the redemption, and when it is put the second way, it shows that Reformed Christians do justice to the efficient purpose of the redemption. Both sides have their verses.”

“But both sides, if they believe that the whole Bible is from God, must affirm both types of verses.”

“How can you do that? If you believe in a definite atonement, how can you square that with some of the universal passages you quoted earlier?”

“One of the reasons I object so strongly to terms like limited atonement is that it does nothing but reinforce a theological caricature that many have in their minds. I believe that Jesus purchased a definite number of people when He died. I have no reason to believe that that number was a small one. He came into the world to save the world, and He will be content with nothing less than a saved world.”

“Do you believe that there will be more people saved than lost?”

“Certainly. It says in 1 John 2:2 that “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “That just means that every person can be forgiven for their sins if they come to Christ.”

“But that is not what it says. It says that Christ was the propitiation for the whole world. Propitiation means that God’s wrath is turned aside from the whole world.”

I sat silently for a moment, and Pastor Spenser went on.

“Notice how the verse does not read. It doesn’t say that He is the propitiation for our sins, because we believed, and not only for ours, but He is a potential propitiation for the whole world, if only they believe, but of course we know they won’t.”

I laughed. “Well, I agree it doesn’t say that.”

“See, the difficulty with verses like this, from the Arminian standpoint, is that they prove too much.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“The Bible teaches that Christ’s death is powerful to save. This power comes through in many of the universal passages. The Arminian position wants the universality of the passage, but not the efficacy of it. In other words, there is no potential propitiation in 1 John 2:2. It is actual. Real. In the cross of Christ, the wrath of God has been turned aside from the world.”

“Does this present any Calvinists with a problem?”

“It surely does. When the Bible speaks of all men, or the world, there is no grammatical reason in Greek to refer it to each and every man. But at the same time, I believe it is impossible to refer such wonderful universal statements to a tiny snippet of humanity.”

“I don’t understand you.”

“Suppose you went to a football game at your school, and the attendance was spectacular. Would you be lying if you said that the whole student body was there, when in fact Jones was in his room sick?”

I laughed. “No.”

“But suppose you said the whole student body was there, when it was just you and Jones. Would there be a problem now?”


“Because. . . ?”

“Because in the first instance my language would not be at all misleading, while in the second instance it would be.”

“Correct. Those who believe what the Bible says about election, but who believe the elect to be few in number, have the same problem. They are confronted with glorious texts about a saved world, and they turn them into texts about a saved church, comprised of the few that will be saved. Of course, their theological opponents turn glorious texts about a saved world into texts about a world which could be saved, but probably won’t be.”

“So if we continue in this vein, we will no longer be talking about the atonement, but rather eschatology?”

“Well, yes. Although biblical eschatology is based on this understanding of the atonement, it would take us off track at the present. Some future discussion perhaps? It should suffice to say that the Bible teaches us about an atonement that is efficacious and definite on the one hand, and universal on the other. All those for whom Christ died will be saved, and Christ died for the world.”

“And you are saying that this is different than saying Christ died for each and every person.”

“Yes. The problem people have with this comes from assuming that both sides of this dispute mean the same thing by for.”

“What do you mean?”

“Given that not all men are saved, contrast these two statements: 1) Christ died for each and every man; 2) Christ died for His people. The word for has a completely different meaning in each of these sentences. In the first, it means that Christ died in order to provide an opportunity of salvation to each and every man. In the second, it means He died to secure the salvation of His people. So the debate is not about the extent of the atonement so much as it is about the nature of the atonement.”

“Can you illustrate what you mean?”

“Sure. Suppose you have a philanthropist giving away money. He walks down the street handing out $100 bills. It is easy to assume (falsely) that the one position says he gives $100 to everybody, while the other side maintains he will give money to only some of the people. In this scenario, the debate is about the extent of generosity, and whether or not the philanthropist is being stingy. But on this understanding, both sides agree that the gift is the same (money), while the generosity varies.”

“OK,” I said. “What is the debate about?”

“In the first view, the philanthropist is not giving out $100 bills. He is giving out tickets to an awards ceremony, where every person attending will be given $100, if they decide to show up. He is giving away an opportunity to get $100. This contrasts with the other view which has the philanthropist out in the street, stuffing the money into pockets. He is not giving away opportunity; he is giving away money. So now the debate is over the nature of the gift. Is the gift money, or an opportunity to receive money?”

I thought for a moment. “So in the area of salvation, you are saying that Christ did not die to give men the opportunity of redemption, if they believe, but that He died to redeem men.”

“You’ve got it.”

“Well, I think I understand it anyway. But you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t accept what you are saying right off. This is going to take some hard thinking and Bible study.”

“That is exactly what it takes. And don’t rush it. Don’t agree to anything until you see it in the Scriptures. Which does the Bible teach? Redemption, or an opportunity to be redeemed?”


This post is Part 1 in a series of 6. It originally appeared as a series in Credenda Agenda.

Thoughts on College Football’s Second Season

university-of-tennessees-football-flag.jpg  Today is National Signing Day for high school football players, and again the sky is apparently falling over Knoxville.  The “experts” are saying Tennessee is not signing enough high caliber talent, making the future – at least their anticipation of it – look bleak. 

But consider: 

1. Recruiting is an inexact art.   

It is definitely no science.   

Projecting the physical, emotional, and social development of 17-18 year olds is not easy.  And stellar recruiting does not necessarily translate into future “W’s”.   

Check out the list of the Top 100 Prospects from any of the past 5-10 years.  I’ll bet you’ve never heard of half of those on any list.  Why not?  Because many didn’t pan out as expected.  Most may have contributed, maybe even started for a year or two, but they didn’t lead their schools to any National Championships, or even conference championships. 

Conversely, I suspect if you check the All American lists for the past several years, you would find a number of those who were highly touted prospects, and probably more who were very good but no so lauded coming out of high school.  These guys just continued to develop, and their coaches brought out their talents.   

2. Recruiting addresses needs. 

While you want to get the best players you can, not every superstar fits what you need.  UT already has a number of great skill players on the roster.  If they recruit the players to fit their needs it may not look good on paper today, but it will on the field two to three years from now. 

3. Some UT Fans May be Responsible. 

It is said by some sports journalists that this is likely to be the worst class in the Phil Fulmer era. That may turn out to be true, though we will not know for two to three years.  But is this any surprise?

If it is true there may be some understandable reasons. 

One reason may be the coaching changes. It is difficult to recruit if you don’t have the coaching staff.  And this year, due to the quality of the staff at UT, many schools came to hire the coaches. 

It happens, sometimes. 

But I suspect there may be a bigger reason, one that should be no surprise.  For months, a loud, obnoxious, and often ignorant minority of fans and sportswriters were calling for Fulmer’s job.  Why would a top recruit come to a place where the coach they liked would be fired?  Why would they want to come to a place where excellence is not enough? Where people turn on you?  Any thinking athlete knows that these same people will turn on you one day. 

If this class turns out as bad as some predict, I submit the fault lays largely on the shoulders of those fair-weather fanatics.  

4. Everything will be fine…  

And if not, remember it is just a game.  No matter what happens on Signing Day, I’m pretty sure the sun will come up again over the hills in East Tennessee.

Why I Am NOT Part of the Religious Right


One would think I’d be a good prospect to be a part of the Religious Right.

1. I am a conservative Evangelical pastor.

2. I first identified my political identity as a Republican in the 2nd Grade.

(My teacher at Cedar Road Elementary School, Mrs. Manning, wanting to teach us a little about Civics, listed several candidates running in local elections on the board.  I mistakenly thought the Republican candidate for one of the offices was my across-the-street-neighbor, so my hand went up as being for that group.)

3. By the fourth grade I actively worked for the campaign of the Republican running for County Commissioner in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

(No I was not that advanced. My father was working on the campaign, and I delivered flyers all around our town.  Come to think of it, it was probably good that I identified as a Republican in the 2nd Grade.  I’m not sure how it would have been growing up if my father had a Democrat for a son!)

4. And now that I am at least a little more aware of politics and the issues than I was when I was in the 2nd Grade, and now that I think for myself, I find I share most of the social concerns expressed by the Religious Right; and I am at least sympathetic to most of their positions.

Still, I am not part of the Religious Right, and have no desire to be identified with them.

Why not?

1. The Religious Right trusts too much in government.

It is odd. One of the loudest laments of conservatives is that Democrats historically favor BIG government; that Democrats believe that government will solve our social problems.  So I find it ironic that those identified as the Religious Right place such faith in electing the right people.  In other words, it seems to me they are putting their hope in those governing.

Don’t get me wrong.  Electing qualified people is important to the functioning of our government, in its various spheres (i.e. Federal, State, Municipal, etc.).  But the social problems we have are more a reflection of the heart than imposition of public policy.  Further, I do believe that there are policies that are immoral. These policies are in place either as a reflection of or to address the corruption of our hearts – the effect of sin.  But the policies do not shape our hearts.

Like him now or not, I remember when George W. Bush was running in the primaries of Y2K, he was asked about a particular policy- I think it was hate crimes. Bush said: “You cannot legislate the heart.”  I think that is profoundly true.

Notice he did not say the typical “You can’t legislate morality.”  That is an absurd statement. All legislation is an expression of morality (or lack of it).  He said “You cannot legislate the heart.”  I’ll go a step further, “You cannot legislate Righteousness”.  Right behavior is not itself Righteousness.  Without faith it is impossible to please God. Righteousness is faith expressing itself in right action – in behavior reflective of God’s character and standards.

Please understand, there are a number of laws and practices I want to see changed; and others I want to see averted.  As a whole our society would be better off.  This would restrain behavior influenced by our sin-infected hearts.  But this is still not Righteousness.  And anyone who believes that simple laws will make us righteous is kidding himself.

Civil Government has a God-given sphere.  It is to provide structure for society. And Civil Government has authority to enforce the common standards for the benefit and protection of the members of society.  It is an important but limited role.

Matters of faith – faith that shapes values & behavior – belongs in the other two governing spheres: Family & Church.  It is God’s Word that instructs us concerning what we are to believe, and what is good & right.  This faith is shaped and expressed in the family and Church.  And when we live-out our faith, we express the righteousness God is working in us.

I’m afraid the Religious Right converges & confuses these God-given spheres.  Consequently many are trusting too much in government, and not enough in what God does, and is doing, by the power of the Gospel.

2. The Religious Right Distorts the Gospel

The Gospel is not: “Be good and you will be righteous.”  It is certainly not: “If you don’t do evil, you are righteous.”

The Gospel is: There is none righteous. But despite the fact we are not good, God has loved us. He sent his Son to take upon himself our guilt and punishment. Whoever trusts in Him – and particularly what He has done on the Cross – is not only forgiven of sin & debt to God, but declared by Divine judiciary to be righteous; we are credited with the righteousness of Christ.

All of this is a matter of faith.  And faith cannot be removed from righteousness.

Faith that is genuine will be expressed in a noticeable improvement of our attitudes and actions (in other words, they will incrementally become more in line with Christ’s).  These actions of faith are what the Bible calls works of righteousness.  Again, righteousness is not the actions themselves.

Sadly, I believe the political emphasis of the Religious Right distorts the Gospel by too often appealing to behavior as the basis of our relationship with God, and not in faith in Christ.  I recognize that the vast majority of those who identify themselves as part of the Religious Right personally make this distinction, but in the heat of political battle the message is not clearly or often enough expressed.

I also often wonder if the leaders of the Religious Right appreciate the power of the Gospel to bring change to individual lives, and thus to a society.  Far better to have people experiencing the power of the Gospel that transforms our hearts, our perspective, our desires, and ultimately our behavior, than to merely restrain behavior.

Government cannot change anyone, really. That is why the efforts of the Religious Right to energize the Evangelical Church into little better than a Political Action Committee sadden me – and angers me.  Too often politics has become the substitute mission of the church.  But the message being proclaimed is no substitute for the Gospel.

3. The Religious Right Has Made Partisanship a Condition of Christianity

I have no idea how many times I have heard it: “I don’t know how someone can be a Christian and be a Democrat”.

I know when that is said it is almost always in reference to some of the social issues, that I agree need to be addressed and, that are supported more prominently by Democrats than Republicans.  But I fear that some may really wonder if political affiliation is a condition for salvation – in other words, that receiving Christ requires Faith AND Voters Registration.  NO! NO! NO!

Being a Christian = trusting in Christ + NOTHING!  Salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone.  PERIOD.

How we live that faith out may vary. And I see both parties lacking.

Again, I am a lifelong Republican. But I must recognize that Republicans do not always have a good track record, for instance, for directly helping the poor & outcastes.  I don’t think it is as bad as caricatured. Neither are the Democrat policies as good as some would want us to believe. (See Marvin Olasky’s The Tragedy of American Compassion.) But I understand how someone filled by the compassion of Christ would choose to identify with those promising direct involvement and resources for the poor. This is an expression of their Faith. One can do this without necessarily embracing every plank of the party’s platform.  And I can understand them, without necessarily agreeing with them.

I was struck several years ago by this comment byMichael Horton:

At the risk of hyperbole, one wonders today what would be more dangerous in some Evangelical gatherings: disagreeing with someone over the doctrine of the Incarnation or disagreeing with Rush Limbaugh.”

(From Beyond Culture Wars, pg 18)

Sadly, I think the emphasis of the Religious Right, for whatever good may have been done, has had this effect on many conservatives.

Today is Super Tuesday. And now that I got all that off my chest, it’s time for me to go vote.  I have been wrestling with this for several weeks, and made my decision a few weeks ago.  But I’ll refrain from  naming my candidate.  I’ll cast my vote and pray…

“Lord, Have Mercy on Us!”

Good Knight, Coach

bob-knight.jpg  Hall of Fame basketball coach, Bob Knight, resigned from his post at Texas Tech yesterday morning, after 40+ years of coaching.  

Knight, never lacking for a surrounding of controversy, was the winningest men’s basketball coach in history, having chalked-up  “W” #902 last Saturday.  (Tennessee’s Pat Summitt is the winningest basketball coach.)  He was crude, harsh, and domineering.  But he was also brilliant, and wherever he went (Army, Indiana, and Texas Tech) he won without even a hint of cheating on or off the court. His peers respected and liked him. His players went to class and graduated. The overwhelming majority of those who played for him respect him and remain loyal to him.  That says a lot to me.   

The rhetorical question that circulates sports talk is: Would you want your son to play for Coach Knight?   

Well, I understand that not everyone responds to his style.  But if my boys loved basketball, and he offered to coach them, I think they would benefit from playing for Coach Knight.  

Coach John Wooden probably summed it up best: 

I don’t think there’s ever been a better teacher of the game of basketball than Bob. I don’t always approve of his methods, but his players for the most part are very loyal to him. I would say that no player that ever played for him would not say he did not come out a stronger person.”