There is No Third Way on Doctrine, Either

Al Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He is one of the most vocal and articulate evangelical spokesmen for a Biblical view of social and political issues in the Western world.  He recently wrote an excellent article on a challenge his denomination recently faced, and I highly recommend it.

But the purpose of this article is not to recommend the article, but to discuss an intriguing statement in his article — for if Al Mohler and other evangelicals consistently applied what he said, it would revolutionise and revitalise evangelicalism.

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Scripture Testimonies — 28 September 2014

Explanation (from last month):  The last Sunday of the month, we have Scripture reading testimonies in our church — no comments, just reading Scripture that people have read in the last week or two. It is profitable, interesting, and encouraging to see where people have been reading. It encourages any who haven’t been reading to read. And it encourages people to think, as they read, of what would be encouraging or challenging for others.

I’ll add this today:  we believe we should be praying for each other, and that we should be reading the Scriptures.  The person doing both of those things regularly will encounter Scriptures they would like to give to those for whom they are praying.  This gives an opportunity to do that.

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Attacking the Church — It is Rarely Doctrinal

My last post said that church problems are always doctrinal.  It is never accurate to say that a church which is straying in some way is doctrinally sound.  Every church problem is based on an error in applied doctrine.

In this article, it may sound like I’m contradicting that article.  If every church problem is doctrinal, won’t attacks on the church always be doctrinal in nature?  Perhaps — but they rarely start with a doctrinal focus.

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Church Problems — They Are Always Doctrinal

Most pastors have heard it many times, especially if they are active on the Internet — it hits their email inbox all the time.  “Something has gone wrong in my church.”  Sometimes it is from another pastor, sometimes a member of the congregation, often from someone he doesn’t even know, who gets in touch online.

There’s an additional statement that often comes with it:  “It’s not doctrinal.  The church still teaches sound doctrine.”  That addendum is wrong.  It is always doctrinal.  Problems always are.

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Your Neighbour

You, my readers, know God is on His throne, that nothing can happen but what He allows, and that He can and will do good for His people.

Your neighbour, your friends, your work colleagues, may not be His people.  They may not believe those things, and so not benefit from confidence in His promises.  Who knows how they are feeling today?

Every day is a good day to remember to love your neighbour.  Today is an especially good day for that, a day when patient listening, soft words, and small acts of kindness to people around you may matter even more than usual.

Romans 13:9

…and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

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Christians Voting, Guessing the Future, and Faith

Many Christians (and apparently a lot of other people) still aren’t sure how to vote.  This is not surprising, because in any vote, we make a decision about the future (in this case, what is best for Scotland’s future?), and we simply don’t know the future.  This is not only true of a referendum, but also when electing government officials.  We can’t know whether they will govern in righteousness or wickedness in future.  An evil person elected one day may repent the next day, or a seemingly righteous person may be a fraud and govern horribly.

This is one reason (not the only one) Baptists have historically been hesitant to tell people how to vote.  We may speak in principles and bring Scripture to bear on particular issues, but it is not the job of government to tell us what to believe and how to worship, and it is not the job of the church to decide who should rule.  Telling people who to elect when you don’t have omniscience is dangerous — for instance, you might inadvertently advocate someone very evil, and leave people feeling you have betrayed them.

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Scottish Independence — Some Biblical Perspective

In three days, Scotland votes.  The Bible has had no place in the debate, which is hardly surprising, but it should have a place in how Christians think about independence and the issues surrounding it.  I’ve read a lot of things on Scottish independence, including articles by Christians.  But I’ve not seen any which directly consider the Scriptures on the question of independence or the issues surrounding it.  In this article, I’d like to address some Scriptural principles that Christians should consider.

There are historical, cultural, political, financial, and emotional factors in whether anyone, Christian or not, will want to vote for independence.  My purpose is not to address those in any depth, but to focus primarily on Scriptural considerations.  Nor is my purpose to draw a conclusion as to how Christians should vote.  Sometimes, Biblical principles make our vote clear, but I’m not persuaded they do in this case.

Rather, my purpose is to encourage Christians to look to the Scripture for guidance as they work through some of the issues.  Scottish independence is a very important decision.  We should always look to Scripture for guidance on such decisions, even if it doesn’t directly answer every question.

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