30 September 2016

The Sanctification of Social Conformity: Offering Incense to Caesar and Christian Second-Class Citizenship (Part 2 of 2)

Our criticism of the system is on the one hand an example of shining light in the darkness but primarily our concern is to expose the nature of the system and thus reveal the apostate nature of Christendom which has constructed this system and is still heavily invested in it. As has been said before, lost people are going to engage in such behaviour. It's no great shock. But when professing Christians do it, then it needs to be called out and exposed. This criticism needs to be understood as not anti-state or political. At worst the result of criticism and exposure should be non-participation... which admittedly can threaten the system and the world will certainly find it offensive and accuse us of being 'bad citizens'. But considering that Christians will only ever be a small minority in any given social system, there is no real or existential threat. The state may not view it that way, but it is nevertheless true.

The Sanctification of Social Conformity: Offering Incense to Caesar and Christian Second-Class Citizenship (Part 1 of 2)

In Roman times Christians were excluded from many aspects of society, many occupations, clubs, guilds and other means of fully participating in the social order were all but closed to them.

They often excluded themselves because participation and membership in these organisations meant worshipping Caesar. All too often simple rituals, prayers, libations and other elements of the pagan cult were part of the warp and woof of daily life in these institutions. Christians could not in good conscience participate in even these seemingly harmless, even trite rituals. As a consequence they were decried as anti-social.

22 September 2016

Sacralism and the Invitation System

Iain Murray's 'The Invitation System' rightly condemns the Altar Call for its tactics of coercion and manipulation, for making emotional appeals that lack substance. As an unbiblical method it creates a false conversion and ultimately does more harm to the hearer than if they had never heard the gospel in the first place.

The Altar Call is built on a spurious theological foundation. Misunderstanding conversion, the gospel, sin, repentance and salvation it is a dangerous caricature of the true gospel invitation to heartfelt repentance and brokenness.

At this point I heartily agree with Murray, who condemns the theology of Charles Finney as well as those who came after him and took up his mantle and legacy. This theology gave us Moody, Sunday, Graham and it could be argued was re-cast once more in the Seeker movement. These men have done irreparable harm to the cause of Christ.

And yet, for all that, in another form this is the very theology advocated by Murray.

How so?

15 September 2016

The Cosmology of Tolkien

Updated March 2017

While perhaps a little off-topic for this website, I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding Part 1of this lecture on Tolkien's Silmarillion. The topic has long attracted me and in fact there are aspects of it that grow more interesting to me over time.

For many years I have been interested in both Tolkien and Lewis and in particular how their Cosmological understandings play out in their fantasy works. Their writings reflect the Middle Ages, the era both authors appreciated, but some time ago I realised this question was more complex than the intricacies of Medieval Scholastic Speculation. There are larger questions regarding Apocryphal literature. That's easy enough to dismiss but I continue to revisit the issue in light of the New Testament's interaction and utilisation of certain works.