Dualistic Two Kingdom Defeat

Bojidar Marinov in his helpful article The Self-Defeating Theology of Dualism addresses the inconsistencies of Radical Two Kingdom theology regarding the civil disobedience of Shouwang house church in China:

Those who have been through systematic education in philosophy know one thing about all dualistic philosophies and religions: They die the moment they touch the ground. A dualistic philosophy can exist in the minds of of ivory tower philosophers and theologians, and it can have a good and coherent system of apologetics and of ideology; but when a dualist tries to apply his faith to the real world he always gets entangled in contradictions and confusion that his ideology is unable to solve….

Albert Mohler is one of the most vocal proponents of the two-kingdom theology. He agrees with VanDrunnen that the church should not “trample on the authority” of the common kingdom institutions. He also agrees that the church’s authority comes from the Scriptures alone, unlike the other institutions. He also believes that the laws for the two kingdoms are different – the laws for the redemptive kingdom come from the Bible, while the laws for the common kingdom are based on natural law, which is common to all people and is not revealed in the Bible. Interviewing Peter Wehner, Mohler specifically states that according to the two-kingdom theology the church “ought to articulate general principles bearing social concern, but ought to leave it to individuals to apply those principles in particular cases.” The church, in short, can not talk to the culture as a church; the culture – and specifically, the state – is not bound by the Biblical Law, it has the natural law which the church can not address in its particular applications. There the church is silent and must remain silent.

But in the Shouwang case we have a church that violates Mohler’s prescriptions. The church – as a church – demands specific action from the government, and that in an area that is specifically state’s, building permits, registrations, etc. The church – as a church – organizes its members in open-air church meetings to protest and demand from the government to violate its own laws – and to violate them in their particular application. Contrary to Mohler’s own theology, the Shouwang church has been largely silent on “general principles bearing social concern,” since Mohler himself mentions that Shouwang has “maintained a steadfastly nonpolitical stance.”

Read the whole thing here.

Find Your Idols

David Powlison gives 11 Questions to help identify things we worship other than God:

  1. What do I worry about most?
  2. What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?
  3. What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
  4. What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?
  5. What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
  6. What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
  7. What do I lead with in conversations?
  8. Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
  9. What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
  10. What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
  11. What is my hope for the future?

It would be interesting to see the different answers people give to these questions.

HT: Resurgence

Best Friend Parents

As our culture grows increasingly immodest, women–and girls–are going to increasingly be the victims of sexual vandalism and exploitation. We need to remember that it was the gospel of Jesus Christ that transformed the treatment of women in the time of Roman empire, and it will be the gospel that does it again. When the four gospels were written, women were not even considered credible as witnesses in a court of law. And yet women are the first witnesses in Scripture to see Jesus alive after his resurrection–an event that no one fabricating the story would include. This would only be one more element of foolishness for Christians explaining what actually happened at the resurection. “So who first saw this Jesus come back from the dead?” “Well, Mary Magdalene, a friend of Jesus.” “That woman? The one who was easy with her body and out of her mind?” “She used to be like that until she met Jesus–before his resurrection.” “Yeah, right.”

Easter is a poignant time to remember the influence of the church honoring the image of God resident in all women, and the true feminine mystique of those following the footsteps of wisdom personified as a woman in Proverbs, blessed-among-women Mary the  mother of Jesus, the various women who believed on and supported Jesus during his ministry, the women first to the tomb, and the women prominent in the life of the early church. All these are types of the Church, our mother (Gal. 4:26).

Various cultural commentators are noticing the sexualization of younger and younger girls. LZ Granderson just ran a story about an 8-year-old he saw in the airport–tanned, mid-riffed, and tagged “juicy” on her pre-pubescent backside. Abercrombie & Fitch isn’t the only one pushing push-up bras and thong underwear for pre-teens. The City of Philadelphia is mailing condoms to 11-year-olds. LZ’s says some good things in his article, but his approach, taken by so many Christian parents, reveals he has already capitulated to the trend. The punch-line conclusion is that parents should be parents, and not BFFs to their children. As far as this means parents have authority, and should exercise it, that friends do not, this is good. But what kind of a BFF lets a friend dress up like a piece of sexual meat? What kind of a parent is content with their kid having this sort of friend? And the worst assumption, why aren’t parents interested in being the best of friends with their kids? “Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6). Continue reading

Something We Are

“Since we are in Christ, we have a missionary identity. We are adopted into a missionary family. We serve a missionary God. Mission becomes part of our identity, because our Father is a missionary God and we resemble him as a child of God. So, the church is a missionary church, with missionary people, that do missionary things for the glory of a missionary God. It is who we are and it is also what we do. Mission is not something we tack on to the list of options as  Christian. It is what we are commissioned to do and something we must commit ourselves to pursue with all of our abilities. Mission is not just smehting we do, but something we are.”  Scott Thomas, Gospel Coach, p. 61.

Understanding Adoption

From a wonderful guestpost over at Reformation 21, Rev. Charlie Abbate discusses the experience of adopting a 16 year old girl from Russia, and the theology behind such an idea:

There was a girl.  Fifteen years old.  She had been to the U.S. the year before as part of this hosting program.  A woman decided to adopt her.  To make a long story short, this fifteen year old girl was all packed up and ready to go home to be with her new American mother when she was told the woman wasn’t coming.  The “why” doesn’t really matter, does it? This girl was abandoned.  Again.  Both her parents died a few years earlier and now her new mother wasn’t coming.

But now, she was coming to America. Again.  And this time, it was her last chance.  She’d be here in June.  In September, she’d turn sixteen years old.  At sixteen, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) won’t allow a person to be adopted.  So what would happen to this girl if she comes here and doesn’t find an adoptive family?

You can look up the statistics for yourself.  Even if you don’t, with little effort, your imagination will carry you to the dark and horrific circumstances that are the reality for a sixteen year old girl, with no family and no resources, on the streets of Russia. This is the story that my wife heard from our friend, which she then relayed to me.  What could we do?  We had to make a decision and we didn’t have the luxury of time. . . .

In my opinion, the doctrine of adoption is sorely under-taught in churches across our country.  Reformed congregations usually have a good grasp of justification by faith.  We get the Biblical truth that, in spite of our sin and rebellion against the holy and living God, God acted according the counsel of his own perfect will to provide a means by which we are saved through faith alone in the finished work of the Son, applied by the Spirit.

But we are adopted. Adopted by the Father! Adopted.  Received into the number of and with a right to all the privileges of the sons of God, as the Confession puts it. We will never be turned away, never be forsaken, and never be abandoned.  In other words, because of God’s amazing grace, we will never face the prospect of what our oldest daughter faced and so many like her around the world face daily: abandonment. Orphaned. Left alone.

Rather, loved by God and called as his, we are secure in God’s electing love.  What a tremendous truth!  What tremendous hope we find in the doctrine of adoption!  And what a blessed opportunity, to live that truth and walk in that hope we have, by adopting children into our own families, children who would otherwise never see in real life what God has done for all of us as Christians.

Apostolic Unrespectability

From Douglas Wilson’s comments on Paul’s warning to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:11-14).

Paul is not feeling sorry for himself here. He is pointing out something that should have been glaringly obvious to people who had a moral obligation to have seen it already, and whose inability to see it was a great spiritual danger to them. The apostolic band that Paul was the center of labored under unbelievable opprobrium. Moreover, they were able to do this without their “beloved sons” even noticing it. Paul therefore warns them. Take heed. If you must have great learning, as Paul most certainly did, make sure to carry it in such a way as to make people think you are crazy (Acts 26:24). It is the only safe way.

Church Persecuted in China

Below is an excerpt from a recent Seattle Times article telling the story of one underground Chinese church. It’s hard to think of a more effective way of growing the church: persecution faithfully handled.

According to church members, the pastor, the Rev. Jin Tianming, and other church leaders were blocked by police from leaving their homes Sunday. Some church members were seized as they emerged from the subway station at Zhongguangcun plaza, where the services were to be held.

By 8 a.m., hundreds of police officers swarmed the area. They questioned passers-by and corralled church members on to buses, dragging and shoving those who r

At one point, a group of plainclothes police officers kicked and beat a group of four young people. As one of the buses pulled away, the congregants pulled out a prayer sheet and began to sing.

Church leaders said 169 people were detained throughout the day, with most taken to a nearby elementary school, where they were briefly questioned and photographed; most were released later in the day, although church leaders said at least three people, including a pastor, were still being held Monday morning.

After years of tolerance by the religious authorities, unregistered churches, known as house churches, have faced pressure to either disband or join the system of state-controlled congregations.

The government first forced Shouwang, which means watchtower, out of its rented quarters in 2008. In 2009, the church paid $4.1 million for a floor in an office building, but the owner, under pressure from the authorities, has refused to hand over the keys. Until last week, church members had been meeting in a restaurant.

The congregation made no secret of its plans to gather outdoors, announcing the service on the Internet. During his final sermon last week, Jin warned his congregants they would likely meet resistance.

“At this time, the challenges we face are massive,” he said. “For everything that we have faced, we offer our thanks to God. Compared with what you faced on the cross, what we face now is truly insignificant.”