Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Using your language

So there's this:

Then there's this:



And then there's this:
Facebook search for #bethedocumentary

Twitter search for #bethedocumentary

Yet it's Shane Dodson and Marcus Pittman who are changing the conversation? Some movie that 30,000 people, most of whom apparently ignored or forgot what it was trying to communicate, have seen?

But Pittman's main point probably isn't wrong. It's just funny who he thinks is winning.





Friday, November 13, 2015

15 defenses of open air preaching

One Daniel Courney wrote the following on Facebook. I heartily endorse almost all of this defense of that which needs no defense and so reproduce it here.
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Though there are many more reasons, here are 15 defenses of street/open-air preaching I wrote out this morning in response to a brother's request:
1. Street preaching is the foremost method God has used throughout the Bible to communicate His Word (our Lord and all the apostles and prophets were street/OA preachers; probably all five of our Lord's sermons recorded in Matthew were in the open-air (at very least the Sermon on the Mount in 5-7, the Sermon on the Parables of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven in 13, and the Sermon on the Mount of Olives, 23-25, which are explicitly said to have occurred in the open air), most of the recorded sermons of the prophets and apostles were open-air sermons.

2. Street preaching turns the world upside down; it makes the church's presence felt by the world and demands a response. It is the most controversial form of evangelism and thus cannot be simply ignored by the world. It is, by its very nature, a publicity stunt.

3. Street preaching is one of the greatest antidotes to lukewarmness; it challenges our faith like no other spiritual exercise.

4. Street preaching is the form of evangelism most consistent with the definitions of the Hebrew and Greek words for "preach" (קרא; κηρύσσω), "evangelize" (בּשׂר; εὐαγγελίζω) and "boldness" (παῤῥησία) in the Bible.

5. Street preaching, because it is the bravest, boldest, and most intrepid form of glorifying the Lord and spreading His Word, is thus the greatest antidote to being ashamed of the Gospel or confessing His Name before men. It literally glorifies the Name of the Lord the most, in the most rigid sense of this concept -- God's glories and Name being trumpeted on the rooftops.

6. Street preaching invites the opportunity for faith-refining persecution like no other form of ministry.

7. Street preaching is the most aggressive, most militant, and fastest method of world evangelism and thus hastens the return of our Lord; whereas preaching in a church house can reach a 100 in a year, street preaching travels a 100 souls per hour.
I will add to this that, biblically speaking, when you are talking inside a "church house" (or a house church), that's not preaching, no matter how loud you talk or how much "authority" you project. Preaching is, biblically speaking, what is done out in the culture to lost people. So I would edit Point #7 to "whereas teaching in a church house" or "whereas lecturing", as well as fleshing out the very real differences between "reaching" someone with a lecture among Christians vs reaching someone with the Gospel in an open air preaching context.

8. Street preaching is more authoritative than one-on-one evangelism; its sermonic and rhetorical nature ensures that those who refuse to listen the gospel in a dialogue must hear it from the monologue of street preacher.



This is not a great point, as it trades on a dubious definition of the word "authoritative". Take that way, though, and it's a good point.
9. Street preaching is the form of evangelism most complementary to the doctrines of grace; only a true Calvinist with a high view of God recognizes the win-win scenario of God being glorified in the salvation of the elect and in the hardening of the reprobate to the vindication of His justice.

10. Street preaching makes the presence and power of the church known in the community like no other form of outreach, as it is most literally fulfilling the commands to set our light upon a lampstand, being a city set on a hill, and proclaiming from the rooftops what He has whispered in our ear.

11. Street preaching is the most inspirational form of evangelism; it is a double-edged sword in that it not only saves the elect outside the fold but greatly motivates and inflames the esprit de corps and morale of the army of God, the church. Many a lukewarm Laodicean Christian has been motivated to commit themselves to Christ, personal holiness, and world evangelism more seriously due to a street sermon more directly intended for the lost.

12. Street preaching is the most superabundantly fruitful form of evangelism. Ask any veteran field preacher.

13. Street preaching is the most manly form of evangelism; it takes most literally the command to "take dominion". Western culture has been emasculated, and sadly it seems as if the church has not been spared the effects of this neutering it seems. Now is the time for men of God to arise and to fulfill the command "Stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13).

14. Street preaching is the most angelic form of evangelism (the root word of evangelism being aggelos or angel); see Rev. 14:6.

15. Street preaching is safeguard against the erosion of freedom of speech; the day may soon come when America becomes a totalitarian state when the luxury of the constitutional right of freedom of speech is overturned by the SCOTUS. While you have the freedom to preach openly without the possibility of criminal prosecution or any life-threatening violent persecution may you seize the initiative!
Amen!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

By the authority vested in me by the State...

The ceremony of my marriage was carried out inside a building that most people refer to as a "church".
The ceremony mostly occurred on the same platform from which the pastor man usually lectures the same people every Sunday morning and evening.
The ceremony was officiated by a clergyman who had also performed premarital counseling for my fiancée and me, who had told us early on that if were engaging in any hanky-panky beforehand, he would not officiate our wedding.

At the end of our ceremony, our covenant of marriage made and vows expressed, this officiating clergyman pronounced us married by the authority vested in him by God and by the State of Oklahoma. Then he signed his name to a document that my wife and I had obtained from the governmental office that manages such affairs, affirming in the eyes of the State that we were legally married.

What did these various words, spoken and written, spoken by the various participants, accomplish?

Did not the vows spoken in the sight of God (and, in our case, other witnesses) actually bring the marriage covenant into being? Given that, what role did the "officiating" clergyman play in the true substance of that day, which was to join two people in marriage? None that I can see.

When the clergyman "pronounce(d)" us husband and wife, who would argue that his pronouncement was anything more than a recognition of the covenant already brought into being? (Not that he said anything wrong or false that day other than that.) This raises some questions, though, as to why he prefaced his not-pronouncement pronouncement with the statement "by the authority vested in me by God and the state of Oklahoma":
-Where did God grant this authority to this man or this class of man, to create marriage covenants? (Obviously, if he simply meant that he had authority to understand and acknowledge a covenant of marriage, it barely merits saying such a thing; anyone can understand and acknowledge a marriage exists.)
-Does this not implicate the clergyman in any sin that may surround the couple (as in a recent incident involving Doug Wilson)?
-Does this not give all concerned the wrong idea of what marriage is - something to be conferred and (if we were to take it to the logical conclusion) which can be dissolved by a man?
-Does this not give all concerned the wrong idea of what marriage is - something to be conferred and (if we were to take it to the logical conclusion) which can be dissolved by the State?
-Why did he, an ostensible servant of Jesus, take onto himself the power of creating marriages in the eyes of the State? (And on what biblical reasoning would this sort of arrangement be based?)

It seems to me that this clergyman, like all others who take on the role of State-marriage-makers, is opening himself up to a significant danger from that State. If he opens his church and his clergy role to creating marriage relationships that the State also recognises as legally binding, does this not mean that he must create marriages in accord with the State's commands?

Thus, what if he were told by the State to marry whomever the State says should be able to marry? Would this man not be obviously exposed to charges of discrimination for marrying the people he deems fit to marry inside "his" church (though the church is not his, but rather belongs to God, and a church is not a building but rather a gathering of people who belong to God, and the building does not really belong to him ultimately but rather to the State if his church organisation is legally a 501c3 entity)?

Given all of these considerations, and given that the Bible specifically and repeatedly says things like "What God has joined together, let no man separate" of marriage covenants, would it not be by far the best course of action for clergy all over the country to stop officiating weddings, or at least to cease any cooperation with the State in creating legally binding marriage arrangements?

Would this not push responsibility back to the husband and wife?
Would this not remind all what a real covenant is? Who creates them? Who joins people together in marriage?
Would this not also allow clergy to more plausibly escape certain Statist ramifications when they push other definitions of marriage? If the clergyman were to renounce his licenses as an agent of the State, he would be under no obligation to marry people whom he does not want to marry, for he does not marry anyone!