4 Kinds of Fundamentalists


There are four kinds of Fundamentalists:

  1. Those who put the “fun” in “fundamentalist,”
  2. those who put the “duh” in it,
  3. those who put the “mental” in it, and
  4. those who put the “lists” in it.

I’ll let you decide what Fundamentalists fit into which category.

(For my fellow eggheads, here’s a nice overview of what the term Fundamentalist does and does not mean.)

“The Horrible Decree” by Charles Wesley


Charles Wesley was a prolific hymnist, with approximately 9000 hymns and sacred poems to his name. Among my favorites are “And Can It Be?” and “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing!” Welsey–along with his brother John–were also a theological polemicist, however, who wrote his polemics into his songs. One of his most blunt anti-Calvinist hymns is “The Horrible Decree,” which refers to the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement. Here’s the text of the hymn, not exactly in honor of Calvin’s birthday, but apropos of it nonetheless.

[1] Ah! Gentle, gracious Dove,
And art thou griev’d in me,
That sinners should restrain thy love,
And say, “It is not free:
It is not free for all:
The most, thou passest by,
And mockest with a fruitless call
Whom thou hast doom’d to die.”

[2] They think thee not sincere
In giving each his day,
“ Thou only draw’st the sinner near
To cast him quite away,
To aggravate his sin,
His sure damnation seal:
Thou shew’st him heaven, and say’st, go in
And thrusts him into hell.”38

[3] O HORRIBLE DECREE
Worthy of whence it came!
Forgive their hellish blasphemy
Who charge it on the Lamb:
Whose pity him inclin’d
To leave his throne above,
The friend, and Saviour of mankind,
The God of grace, and love.

[4] O gracious, loving Lord,
I feel thy bowels yearn;
For those who slight the gospel word
I share in thy concern:
How art thou grieved to be
By ransom’d worms withstood!
How dost thou bleed afresh to see
Them trample on thy blood!

[5] To limit thee they dare,
Blaspheme thee to thy face,
Deny their fellow-worms a share
In thy redeeming grace:
All for their own they take,
Thy righteousness engross,
Of none effect to most they make
The merits of thy cross.

[6] Sinners, abhor the fiend:
His other gospel hear—
“The God of truth did not intend
The thing his words declare,
He offers grace to all,
Which most cannot embrace,
Mock’d with an ineffectual call
And insufficient grace.

[7] “The righteous God consign’d
Them over to their doom,
And sent the Saviour of mankind
To damn them from the womb;
To damn for falling short,
“Of what they could not do,
For not believing the report
Of that which was not true.

[8] “The God of love pass’d by
The most of those that fell,
Ordain’d poor reprobates to die,
And forced them into hell.”
“He did not do the deed”
(Some have more mildly rav’d)
“He did not damn them—but decreed
They never should be saved.

[9] “He did not them bereave
Of life, or stop their breath,
His grace he only would not give,
And starv’ed their souls to death.”
Satanic sophistry!
But still, all-gracious God,
They charge the sinner’s death on thee,
Who bought’st him with thy blood.

[10] They think with shrieks and cries
To please the Lord of hosts,
And offer thee, in sacrifice
Millions of slaughter’d ghosts:
With new-born babes they fill
The dire infernal shade,
“For such,” they say, “was thy great will,
Before the world was made.”

[11] How long, O God, how long
Shall Satan’s rage proceed!
Wilt thou not soon avenge the wrong,
And crush the serpent’s head?
Surely thou shalt at last
Bruise him beneath our feet:
The devil and his doctrine cast
Into the burning pit.

[12] Arise, O God, arise,
Thy glorious truth maintain,
Hold forth the bloody sacrifice,
For every sinner slain!
Defend thy mercy’s cause,
Thy grace divinely free,
Lift up the standard of thy cross,
Draw all men unto thee.

[13] O vindicate thy grace,
Which every soul may prove,
Us in thy arms of love embrace,
Of everlasting love.
Give the pure gospel word,
Thy preachers multiply,
Let all confess their common Lord,
And dare for him to die.

[14] My life I here present,
My heart’s last drop of blood,
O let it all be freely spent
In proof that thou art good,
Art good to all that breathe,
Who all may pardon have:
Thou willest not the sinner’s death,
But all the world wouldst save.

[15] O take me at my word,
But arm me with thy power,
Then call me forth to suffer, Lord,
To meet the fiery hour:
In death will I proclaim
That all may hear thy call,
And clap my hands amidst the flame,
And shout,—HE DIED FOR ALL.

Mo Sabri: ‘I Believe in Jesus’


Mo Sabri is a Muslim who believes in Jesus. No, he’s not part of the insider movement. He’s a Muslim…who believes in Jesus.

It may surprise Pentecostal and evangelical Christians to learn that Muslims believe that Jesus, among other things, was born of a virgin, was commissioned to preach, ascended into heaven, and will return again to Jerusalem. Alongside these orthodox beliefs, which are reflected in Mo Sabri’s song, Muslims deny that Jesus was God incarnate and the atonement for our sins. So, from the standpoint of Christian theology (and of historical truth), the Muslim view of Jesus is deficient.

Still, what an interesting cultural moment we live in when a Muslim boy from Tennessee is introduced (in this video) by a Dallas Cowboys team member, declares his belief in Jesus, and closes his video with a quote from Roman Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar: “Even if a unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love it.”

Lyrics below the video…

Verse 1

This ain’t a song about bottles in the club
This is about a role model filled with love
A teacher, a preacher with guidance from above
Sent to represent a message of peace like a dove
In the west they call him Jesus, in the east they call him Isa
Messiah, Christ…the same person that you speak of
Ask me why I wrote this song I will tell you because
There’s too many people silent, it’s time for me to speak up
The son of a virgin, they say it is illogical
Probably improbable but God made it possible
Gabriel told Mary that her son would be phenomenal
His voice was always audible, The opposite of prodigal,
He overcame the obstacles, people attacking him
He was a walking hospital, with healing he was passionate
He cured the sick, raised the dead, shout out to Lazarus
I’m talking about Jesus of Nazareth

Chorus:

If we don’t have peace, we’ll end up in pieces
Treat people the way that you want to be treated
If you do believe it, sing it and repeat it
I am not afraid to say that I believe in Jesus

Jesus…I believe in Jesus
I am not afraid to say that I believe in Jesus
Jesus…I believe in Jesus
I am not afraid to say that I believe in Jesus

Verse 2

I’m just a follower of Jesus
What that means is: I follow what he teaches
I’m not the type of person that just wants to give speeches
I’m trying to be the person that will practice what he preaches

Yeah, ’cause I’ve observed people just say the words
But faith ain’t a noun, it is more like verb
That’s why I wrote this verse, to remind us to serve
‘Cause if you haven’t heard, faith is dead without works

How can we say we believe that God exists
If we always act the opposite, it’s ominous
How we only care about our own accomplishments, and we’re quick to break our promises
We gotta put a stop to this

We all sin, I know that we are human
But we cannot keep on using all the same excuses
Now it is the time we need to prevent the abuses
Listen up, I got the solution

Verse 3

Why does our religion always have to cause division?
In reality we’re all more similar than different
Jesus wanted unity, but nowadays it’s missing
We have to use our vision if we want to do his mission

Can’t we see we’re all children of Adam, brothers and sisters?
If you don’t agree, then you haven’t read the Scriptures
Picture when Jesus comes back to Jerusalem
Will he be happy with the way that you’ve become?

We’re living wrong but today’s a new dawn
So sing along to this song, like David singing the Psalms
Now raise up your arms, give alms with open palms
Jesus brought us a message to follow until we’re gone

Shout out to my dad and mom for blessing me in my youth
God’s essence is the proof that his message is the truth
And this song was just a lesson to remind me and you
To ask ourselves this question, what would Jesus do?

Review of ‘Pentecostalism: A Very Short Introduction’ by William K. Kay


Pentecostalism Kay, William K. 2011. Pentecostalism: A Very Short Introduction. Vol. 255, Very Short Introductions. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pentecostal Christianity is the fastest-growing religious movement of the modern era. Over the past 100 years, it has grown from a handful of adherents to well over 500 million. Often associated with white, right-wing, American televangelists in the public mind, it is actually populated by poor, Majority World residents whose political commitments are diverse.

William Kay’s Pentecostalism: A Very Short Introduction ably introduces this movement by sketching an outline of its history (chapters 1–3), theology (chapters 4–5), and sociology (chapters 6–7). A concluding chapter (8) speculates on possible trajectories for the size and influence of the movement. Kay includes a “Further Reading” list at the end of the book for readers who wish to delve more deeply into these topics.

I highly recommend Pentecostalism as an introduction to this vibrant Christian movement for readers who know little to nothing about it.

P.S. If you found this review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

The Creed of Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words


20120704-111530.jpgThe Creed of Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words

By William E. Barton[1]

 

I believe in God, the Almighty Ruler of Nations,[2] our great and good and merciful Maker,[3] our Father in Heaven, who notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads.[4]

I believe in His eternal truth and justice.[5]

I recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blest whose God is the Lord.[6]

I believe that it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.[7]

I believe that it is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father equally in our triumphs and in those sorrows[8] which we may justly fear are a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our reformation.[9]

I believe that the Bible is the best gift which God has ever given to men. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book.[10]

I believe the will of God prevails.[11] Without Him all human reliance is vain.[12] Without the assistance of that Divine Being, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. [13]

Being a humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father, I desire that all my works and acts may be according to His will; and that it may be so, I give thanks to the Almighty, and seek His aid.[14]

I have a solemn oath registered in heaven[15] to finish the work I am in,[16] in full view of my responsibility to my God,[17] with malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right as God gives me to see the right.[18] Commending those who love me to His care, as I hope in their prayers they will commend me,[19] I look through the help of God to a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before.[20]

 


[1] William E. Barton, The Soul of Abraham Lincoln (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2005), 300. This book is a reprint of the 1920 first edition published by George H. Doran Co. Chapter XXIII is titled, “The Creed of Abraham Lincoln.” The chapter consists of “a series of short quotations from documents, letters, and addresses, certified as authentic and touching directly upon points of Christian doctrine.” After presenting these quotations, Barton arranges, with minimal editing, several of Lincoln’s phrases into the form of a creed, quoted above in the text. In the notes below, I have linked the phrases to The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, the online version of Roy P. Bassler’s authoritative series of the same name. The online version replicates Bassler’s page divisions, so I’ve noted the page number of the quotation to aid in finding it in the text.

[2] “First Inaugural Address—Final Text,” March 4, 1861, 270.

[3] “To John D. Johnston,” January 12, 1851, 97.

[5] “First Inaugural Address,” 270.

[6] “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day,” March 30, 1863, 155.

[8] “Proclamation of Thanksgiving,” July 15, 1863, 332.

[9] “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day,” 156.

[10] “Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible,” September 7, 1864, 542.

[11] “Meditation on the Divine Will,” [September 2, 1862?], 403.

[12] “To the Friends of Union and Liberty,” May 9, 1864, 333.

[13] “Farewell Address at Springfield, Illinois,” February 11, 1861, 190.

[14] “Reply to Eliza P. Gurney,” October 26, 1862, 478.

[15] “First Inaugural Address,” 271.

[16] “Second Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1865, 333.

[17] “Message to Congress,” March 6, 1862, 146.

[18] “Second Inaugural Address,” 333.

[19] “Farewell Address at Springfield, Illinois,”190.

[20] “To John D. Johnston,” 97.

9/11 and the Mission of the American Church


Today is the 11th anniversary of 9/11. As America remembers the enormities of that day and reflects on the State’s response to acts of terrorism, it is appropriate American Christians to reflect on the mission Jesus Christ gave his Church to make disciples of all nations. America’s response to 9/11 and American Christians’ response to 9/11 may not be the same.

Dr. Mark Hausfeld, my professor at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, delivered a challenging message today on the Church’s mission. I encourage you to watch it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A Pentecostal Way Forward Through the Challenges of Science*


Every day, it seems, scientists uncover new wonders — both large and small — in our world. These wonders redound to God’s glory, for He created them all. And among those wonders, surely the human mind ranks high. Aside from the angels, only humans are able to perceive God’s handiwork and praise Him for it.

Yet many humans do not. Instead, they “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). Consequently, “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (1:21). By they, of course, I mean we. Ingratitude for God’s gracious gifts mars every human heart.

Because creation is wonderful and the human heart wicked, I am ambivalent about science.

On the one hand, I benefit from advances in science. For example, I use Enbrel — a TNF inhibitor drug — to treat my ankylosing spondylitis. My iPhone, iPad, and laptop are indispensable tools in my work and my graduate studies. Their apps and programs make use of complex mathematical algorithms to produce, store, and communicate information. Energy efficient air conditioning and heating keeps me and my family cool in the summer and warm in the winter, at low cost. I could go on with more examples, but you get the point: Science has its benefits.

On the other hand, advances in science seem to portend retreats in faith. A 2009 Pew Forum poll of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that “scientists are roughly half as likely as the general public to believe in God or a higher power.” According to David Kinnaman, 25 percent of “18- to 29-year olds who have a Christian background” indicate that the belief, “Christianity is antiscience,” is “completely or most true of me.”

I don’t believe Christianity is antiscience. How can God’s Word and His world contradict one another? But many people — including many Pentecostals — believe Christianity is antiscience. How, then, should we as Christians live between the benefits of science and the challenges it seems to pose to our faith?

First, we must be filled with the Spirit. One of Pentecostalism’s greatest strengths is its empirical quality. For us, God is not a concept we ponder or a historical Actor whose past deeds are interesting to archive (though pondering Him is wonderful and recounting His past deeds is encouraging). Rather, God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — is a living Person who invites us into fellowship with Him, changes our character at deep levels, and empowers us supernaturally to speak and to act on His behalf. Our experience is evidence — proof, even — of the realities our faith lays hold of. Perhaps that is why Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” If you find your faith questioned by science or anything else, the answer always begins with a prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, I need You.”

A focus on Pentecostalism’s empirical quality does not mean that arguments are unimportant. We are people of the Spirit, yes, but we are also people of the Word. Jesus Christ is the Logos of God (John 1:1–3,14), His Word, Reason, and Logic. If science or anything else challenges our faith, we must mount a tough-minded apologetic. Paul’s ministry is exemplary in this regard: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Since God exists, any scientific or philosophical argument that denies He exists is a bad argument, and we should be able to demonstrate this through close reasoning. Paul did not merely evangelize the lost, he reasoned, explained, and proved Christ’s vicarious death and victorious resurrection to them (Acts 17:2,3).

Third, we must interpret both Scripture and nature humbly. Scripture and nature are God’s self-revelation (Romans 1:20; 2 Timothy 3:16). Theology is primarily our interpretation of God’s revelation in Scripture, while science is primarily our interpretation of God’s revelation in nature. God is infinite, we are “the grass [that] withers and the flowers [that] fall” (1 Peter 1:24). God is all knowing, “we know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). God is all good, our “heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). Given the distance between God’s perfection and our imperfection, we need to interpret both His Word and His world humbly, always ready to learn more about Him through them.

A new baptism in the Holy Spirit, confidence in the truth of Jesus Christ, and humility in the light of our limitations is a Pentecostal way forward through the challenges that science seems to pose to faith, even as we enjoy the many benefits it confers.

*This is my editorial in the fall 2012 issue of Enrichment.

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