Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Price of Admission

If you read only the complaints of Social Justice Christendom, you might be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the only possible reason a local church can possibly object to the idea of having fellowship with practicing homosexuals is a lack of love.

And, to be fair, one has to admit that at times Christians have reacted to homosexuals in ways that might be considered less than charitable (though the strictest Christians tend to be considerably kinder than even the most moderate practitioners of Islam).

But not every gathering of Christians is the Westboro Baptist Church. And thankfully, few believers conduct themselves like Fred Phelps, though the media has a tendency to perpetuate the stereotype.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New and/or Reactionary

Gary McIntosh has written an intriguing guest piece for Christianity Today on the subject of the history of spiritual gifts profiles, and it raises a bigger question concerning the validity of new movements and trends within Christendom.

Given a minute, you’ll probably think of half a dozen examples of what McIntosh means by “spiritual gifts profiles”. Books, seminars and platform ministry on the subject of gifts are found everywhere these days. These attempt to inventory and describe each of the spiritual gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit of God with a view to helping Christians recognize the gifts they’ve been given and use them more effectively for God’s glory.

But McIntosh points out that this level of attention to the gifts is a fairly recent phenomenon; perhaps not quite big enough to refer to as a “movement”, but certainly a notable trend.

And to some people anything new is automatically suspect.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

On the Mount (1)

I’m working my way through the Sermon on the Mount again (Matthew 5-7). It’s a pretty pivotal piece in Christ’s teaching ministry, and one that seems to invite scrutiny on multiple levels.

Infogalactic’s entry on the Sermon lists eight different categories of views about it, the most commonly held of which is that it “contains the central tenets of Christian discipleship”. Augustine called it “a perfect standard of the Christian life”.

I struggle with that. See, the Sermon is fundamentally Jewish; and while Christianity has its roots in Judaism and would not exist without it, the two are not interchangeable.

If we miss that, we’re missing more than we might think.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (4)

A commenter at Christian Forums attempts to refute the Dispensational view of the Bible. Leimeng says:

“Much of Dispensationalism is a false teaching in the same way that calvinism, arminianism and pelegarianism are. The Bible clearly states that God is not a God of Changes, and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

The statement that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever comes word-for-word from the book of Hebrews, but I don’t believe it means at all what Leimeng claims it means.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Nominally Protestant, Leaning Catholic

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Inbox: Have I Got a Deal for You

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Dropping the Secular Pretense

“If secular America does not die, then America will die. If we do not drop the secular pretense with loathing then it is inevitable that God will drop us. With loathing.”
— Doug Wilson

Hey, Doug, somebody’s trying. The “secular pretense” has officially been dropped. In fact, I can’t recall a world leader who invoked the name of God more deliberately or with greater consistency than President Donald Trump in the months since his inauguration.

You can like him, you can hate him, or you can ignore him. You can claim he’s pandering to evangelicals, and you might even be right. But he’s definitely doing something President Obama didn’t.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bubbling Under the Surface

Sometimes God gets angry. Sometimes his righteous and thoroughly justifiable anger is even directed at his servants:

“The Lord was angry with me because of you.”

“The Lord was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him.”

“The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord.”

“He has cut down in fierce anger all the might of Israel; he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, consuming all around.”

But the consequences of God’s anger (not to mention its duration) are not always precisely the same.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Do We Need Revival?

I meet with a group of believers, more than one of whom prays regularly and passionately for revival.

Often these requests go beyond the local level and become a bit denominational in character. Occasionally they are even more sweeping, taking in all of evangelicalism, or perhaps the church throughout North America.

I’ve always found the term “revival” a little awkward, and I now realize why: notwithstanding our hymnology, “revive” is an Old Testament word and “revival” is really an Old Testament concept.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Kings and Functionaries

One must be careful what one wishes for, not to mention one’s choice of words.

Israel said to the prophet Samuel, “Appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” They were looking for a judge and a defender, someone who would grant them justice against their domestic enemies and take up arms against foreign enemies on their behalf. Instead, in Saul, after an initial honeymoon period, they got a king who judged them arbitrarily, oppressively, selfishly and moodily, and who fought on their behalf with only limited success.

Exactly like all the nations.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Basic Math

Most people can do basic math.

Maybe not everybody can do linear algebra, probability or calculus, but even relatively low-IQ palace servants living 1000 years before the birth of Christ could hardly fail to notice that David’s latest wife, Bathsheba, had just delivered a baby well short of the average human gestation period of forty weeks.

Sure, David married Bathsheba the moment he could reasonably get away with it. But nobody was fooled. Their affair had to be the worst-kept secret in Jerusalem.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Witchcraft Using Christian Language

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What About the Witches?

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Galilee probably looked something
like this in the time of Isaiah.
Are Christians really the world’s most persecuted religious group?

Nelson Jones at New Statesman has taken up the issue at some length in response to a recent statement from British Prime Minister David Cameron: “It is the case that Christians are now the most persecuted religion around the world,” Cameron said. “We should stand up against persecution of Christians and other faith groups wherever and whenever we can.”

Jones starts his article by appearing to agree with Cameron and others who have voiced similar sentiments but as he meanders on, it becomes evident that what he really wants to say is: 1) religion causes fighting, 2) Muslims are persecuted too, 3) “persecution” is a relative term, and 4) anyway, if Christians ARE being persecuted, it’s certainly not because of their faith.

Which pretty much covers all the bases.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

That Poorly-Attended Prayer Meeting

Another article on the church, and yet another concerned comment about poorly-attended prayer meetings.

It’s a “head-scratcher”, we’re told.

Scratch no more, my good friends. It’s not that tough from where I sit.

I’m not sure that there are all that many Christians who really believe their church can succeed without prayer. Rather, I think the message many Christians are sending when they beat feet in the other direction at prayer meeting time might just be that they’re not convinced their church needs or wants THEIR prayers, or that their attendance on any given week will make the slightest bit of difference either to the Lord or to their fellow believers.

Much of the time I suspect they’re right.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Love and Response

Several years ago I gave some good advice to a struggling, depressed young adult. Basic things, really: Go to bed at the same time every night, get up at the same time every morning, brush your teeth and get dressed rather than lying around moping until all hours. Eat properly. Exercise. Clean up after yourself. Jordan Peterson stuff, but before everybody knew who Jordan Peterson is.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

When to Stop

Scientists who subscribe to the the Big Bang Theory seem compelled to seek out some earlier cause for each event in their chain. Everything happens, they reason, because something else happened first. So, for instance, this astronomer argues that the “highly concentrated ball of matter” from which the universe is supposed to have begun was the product of decaying photons.

We might try to frame this sort of argument in the language of the book of Hebrews by saying this: something “visible” (in this example, light) eventually gave rise to “what is seen” (in this case, matter).

But obviously the writer of Hebrews would disagree with that formulation.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (3)

Some meanings are just lost, I’m afraid. At least that’s how it seems to me when I dig into the original languages of scripture in hope of finding the most accurate translation of specific words.

To the post-modernist, a text means whatever he pleases at any particular moment. Authorial intent doesn’t matter in the slightest because the post-modernist assures us intent cannot be known and, further, if intent could be known it would carry no more weight than the most trivial and uninformed interpretation of the reader.

Word studies? Who cares?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: See You in Court, Brother

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I Liked You Better Before You Apologized

Here’s Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton last Wednesday, responding to a question from a female reporter about the “physicality” of one of his wide-receivers as he runs downfield:

“It’s funny to hear a female talk about ‘routes.’ It’s funny.”


Cut to the same Cam Newton last Thursday, after social media erupted over his “sexism” and at least one of his corporate sponsors went off in search of greener pastures:

“I sincerely apologize … I’m a father to two beautiful daughters and at their age I try to instill in them that they can do and be anything that they want to be.”

You know, I kinda liked Cam better before he apologized.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus established a base of operations near the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum, about 40 miles from Nazareth where he had grown up. Matthew tells us he made this move right after the arrest of John the Baptist, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

It was near Capernaum that he called his first disciples, preached the Sermon on the Mount and calmed the storm. It was from the same region that he sent out the Twelve into the rest of Israel to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Implementing the Peace Principle

Legally speaking, a conflict of interest is a situation in which a person owes a duty to more than one party, the execution of which duties are either incompatible or mutually exclusive. In other words, discharging one’s responsibility to the first party may result in negatively impacting or failing to discharge one’s responsibility to the second.

This is not a situation with which Christians are unfamiliar. Conflicts of interest are part of the package.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Bridegroom is Here

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Study of Plate Tectonics (or What Do I Do Next?)

Which way do I go? How do I respond to THAT? Should I wait, or should I act now?

The answers to such questions are not merely of academic interest to the Christian. From time to time, one choice or another gives rise to significant consequences, either good or bad. Other times nothing we choose to do or say matters in the slightest; what happens would have happened anyway.

But of course we don’t know that when we’re choosing, do we? So we find ourselves asking God for wisdom.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Not Going to Nashville [Part 5]

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

The Nashville Statement is a significant evangelical document. It’s an attempt by big names such as John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Russell Moore, James Dobson and others to formulate a written response to Western culture’s post-Christian “massive revision of what it means to be a human being”, especially as that revision relates to sexuality and marriage.

Significant though it may be, in our final installment we’re discussing why, here at ComingUntrue, we’re Not Going to Nashville.

Tom: On to the ante-penultimate Article then.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Who’s Holding the Scales?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Problems You Can’t Fix

The rich get a bad rap sometimes. But they also have their defenders.

A few years ago in Forbes, John Stossel pointed out that the big-money folk in America don’t have enough spare change between them to put a dent in the financial woes of their own country, let alone the rest of the world.

“If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion. That’s only a third of this year’s deficit.”

The finer details of Stossel’s math might be debated, but all the same he’s got a point, and one that won’t go away. Some problems can’t be fixed — at least not by human beings.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Everybody’s a Theologian

Augustine of Hippo (called Saint Augustine by some) defined theologia as “reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity”.

A theologian, then, is someone who engages in the study of theology, or has learned something about God.

Hey, by that standard everyone’s a theologian.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Believers in Orbit

Long-time readers here will be aware that I don’t always see eye to eye with Crawford Paul over at assemblyHUB. We’ve had one or two carefully-worded differences of opinion and a number of back-and-forths in the comments section there (and, to be fair, plenty of common ground too).

That said, I’ve got to concede his latest post makes some very good points.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

Six times in Matthew 5 (v21, 27, 31, 33, 38 and 43), the Lord Jesus refers to things his audience had heard said. Some of these things are the direct commands of God through Moses in something very close to their original wording. Others appear to be rabbinical interpretations that expand on the originals.

In all cases, the conventional rabbinical readings are inadequate. So instead, the Lord infers from the Law of Moses principles of conduct and modes of thought by which his listeners might strive to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.

Hearsay, it appears, was not good enough.