The Importance of Being the Church

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

One of the most blessed things Christians are privileged to participate in is the life of a local assembly of believers. It might surprise readers to learn that the Bible in both Testaments speaks almost exclusively within the context of local bodies. The Old Testament speaks specifically about the nation, tribes, and families of the Hebrew people. Their story of failure and success in being obedient to God and in becoming the people He desired them to be is a primary storyline of the Old Testament. The New Testament reads like a manual for righteous living within the context of the local church family.

Think about this friends – Matthew wrote for a Jewish audience, Mark a Gentile audience, Luke for the benefit of Theophilus, John to Christians generally speaking, Paul to the churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae to name a few. One thing these letters have in common with the possible exception of Luke is that they were written to churches. One could argue that Paul’s letters to Timothy were written to an individual believer but even then Paul was instructing Timothy on how to handle issues within the body of believers.

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The Theological Basis For Why Israel Should Matter To Christians – S. Douglas Woodward

Anti-Semitism Arises Once Again – What is the Biblical Basis to Oppose it?

It’s quite unusual to find a Christian author or teacher that favors Israel who isn’t also a dispensationalist.  And it is difficult to find a dispensationalist who isn’t also a Christian Zionist.  Nevertheless, in Gerald McDermott, we have an Anglican theologian, Israel scholar, and author who is not dispensational, but who advocates for Jews everywhere, especially those living in the present state of Israel.  McDermott has written extensively on the subject of why Israel should be valued by Christians rather than repudiated for their historical rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Given the intensifying controversy surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the growing disapproval of the Israeli government by many Christian groups, a timely analysis of the situation appears most warranted.

In this article, I begin by pointing out while McDermott’s advocacy of Israel is welcomed and proceeds from an eschatological basis, his rationale owes as much to “Christian guilt” over our historical treatment of the Jews, as it does to truly biblical commitments for why Israel should matter to Christians.  To be more specific, his theological basis dismisses the dispensational hermeneutic, seeing Dispensationalism as a birthplace for wild prophetic speculation and fundamentalist dogma. McDermott offers an alternative basis for favoring Israel. His viewpoint is gaining traction and thus, it is worthy of consideration. My goal in penning this piece affords only a short analysis of his perspective, it is a relevant way to begin when considering the conventional basis for supporting Israel, commonly identified as Dispensationalism.  Additionally, while affirming Zionism (limited in its proper meaning here, advocating solely for Israel’s right to exist in its historic Middle Eastern land), I will provide a counter-argument to McDermott’s point of view, which comprises my main reason for writing; that is, asserting that Dispensationalism is a respectable, historical, and indeed, the strongest hermeneutic for why Christians should care about Israel.  Obviously, one could write an entire book on the subject.  This I hope to do in the months ahead.  Here I will provide what amounts to no more than a prolog.

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Do As I Say and Not As I Do: The Tragedy of the James White Interfaith Dialogue and the Pragmatic Defense Offered by Phil Johnson

The current firestorm related to James White’s decision to facilitate an interfaith dialogue with Imam Yasir Qahdi is puzzling in the least and has become a stumbling block for many who do not understand how White cannot understand that he is “dancing with the devil” as the saying goes.  Mr. White’s response to those critical of his decision has been the polar opposite of remorse and he has in fact dug his heels in and maintained that his actions were right and consistent with what Christians should be doing. Is that true? What bridges can be built to people who teach that Christians who do not submit or convert to Islam should be murdered? What madness is this that has gripped Christians today such that they believe the lie that building bridges to nowhere constitute evangelism? I won’t rehash all of Mr. White’s actions related to this in detail. You can read about that here – http://www.worldviewweekend.com/news/article/facts-reveal-james-white-islamic-dupe-clueless-evangelicals-are-desperate-save-his

What I wish to address is the support Mr. White has received. Surprisingly a couple of people with very different perspectives, one might say two people with theological beliefs very much at odds with one another, have stepped into the fray to defend Mr. White’s error. I am speaking of Phil Johnson and Michael Brown. This has added a layer of intrigue to the entire situation but has also served to obfuscate the truth of what critics of White’s decision to promote an interfaith dialogue have been saying. By engaging in what appear to be damage control activities on behalf of Mr. White, Johnson seems to have exposed himself as a hypocrite of the highest order. You can be the judge of whether or not that is true based on the information contained in this article. His previous statements seem to be completely contradictory to his stated position concerning James White’s ecumenicalism, or to use the new and improved phrase, interfaith dialogue.

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Southern Baptist ‘Resolution’ A Microcosm of the Problem

(Photo: Screengrab/SBC Annual Meeting)

In what can be described as another wildly misguided missive poorly aimed and good only for virtue signaling to a cadre of reality-oblivious followers, William Dwight McKissic, an African-American Texas pastor, drafted a resolution that was considered at the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix this week. What was misguided about his resolution? Simply this – McKissic sees in the so-called Alt Right, a source of unparalleled evil and hatred such that any rational individual would condemn it.

The Christian Post writer Michael Gryboski states in his write-up about the Resolution that, “The Alt Right is a political movement generally associated with white nationalism and known for launching intense attacks on ideological enemies on social media.” Oh the evil of such individuals who would oppose other people’s viewpoints along ideological lines! Note to Gryboski – this IS political discourse in America today. Social Media IS a political battlefield occupied by people of all ideologies including black supremacists, Hispanic and Latino supremacists, and every other ethnicity who has a grievance to advance.

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Matthew 7:1-6 – Why the Confusion About Judging?

 

The following story appeared in a recent edition of Leadership Journal.

“A traveler, between flights at an airport, went to a lounge and bought a small package of cookies and a newspaper.  The woman found an empty seat in the gate area and sat down next to a man reading a magazine.  After a couple of minutes she became aware of a rustling noise.  From behind her paper she peeked to see the man sitting next to her helping himself to her cookies.  After the initial shock she decided not to make a scene so she reached over and took a cookie for herself.

A minute or two passed and then came more rustling.  The woman peeked from behind her paper and sure enough, the man was helping himself to another cookie.  Again the woman decided not to make a scene and instead reached over and took two cookies for herself.  This same process occurred several more times until there was one cookie left.  The man broke the cookie in two pieces, ate half, and slid half over to the woman, got up and left.

The woman couldn’t believe the audacity of the man and was still fuming over the whole affair when she boarded her flight.  After takeoff the woman needed something in her purse and when she opened it up the first thing she saw was her package of unopened cookies.”

Our assumptions can be misleading more often than we want to admit!

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