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The Trajectory of “Better”

Feb 20th, 2018

Robert L. Rodenbush

 

 

by Robert Rodenbush

In Crisis Magazine, a Catholic publication, author and priest George Rutler laments the lack of strong church leaders in the Catholic faith. He quotes an English bishop that stated: “Wherever St. Paul went, there was a riot. Wherever I go, they serve tea.” Rutler’s concern over the loss of spiritual boldness and trajectory of the future warns against what should be avoided in our own ranks as Apostolics.

George Rulter

Our world has changed dramatically. A generation ago, pastors were expected to preach absolutes, express strong opinions, and offer moral standards for daily living. The world looked to the church for answers, and while they may not have liked or lived up to them, there was a certain comfort in knowing where to go to find the truth taught and preached. Today, the expectation has changed. Church seeking has taken on a new level of meaning.

No longer do people look to a church or denomination that corresponds to specific doctrines and tenets of faith, but they go from church to church looking for an experience that suits every family member. Is the Sunday school program exciting? Do they provide enough youth events? Is the pastor engaging, interesting and time conscious? So to meet these expectations churches today respond with “better” marketing, websites, social media and events focused primarily on time efficiency and catch-all theology. It’s not to say we shouldn’t focus on areas that can benefit from improvement, but we must make certain that the time and energy placed on becoming “better” does not restrict our spiritual effectiveness and anointing, or water down our commitment to our core doctrines.

Mainline Christianity has taken “better” to mean speaking in generalities, sticking to sermonic encouragement rather than conversion and a moral relativism that doesn’t intrude on lifestyle choices. If Apostolics head too far down this path, we will lose our purpose altogether. This generation is surrounded by relativism – our clarity, strength in doctrine and our reliance upon scriptural absolutes and the Holy Spirit to guide our lives, our churches and our services is what will set us apart from the noise of everything else. Why do they need to come to a 60-minute church service if they can watch a TED talk, or listen to motivational podcast for the same effect?

The world needs preachers to fill its pulpits and young people unafraid to reach those around them with a dynamic, powerful and anointed Apostolic message. “Where there are bishops of moral vigor, there will be an abundance of young men willing to take up the call of priestly service. Where the spirit is tepid and refreshes itself on the thin broth of a domesticated and politically correct Gospel, seminaries will be vacant. As C.S. Lewis gave account: ‘We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst’” (Rutler, Jan. 22, 2018, Crisis Magazine).

John 1 Is Not a Separate Person of a Trinity

Jan 30th, 2018

Bobby Killmon

 

 

by Bobby Killmon

How do I show someone that the Word/Logos in John 1 is not a separate person of a trinity?

This is often a text used by our trinitarian friends to “prooftext” their position. Oneness believers who are in the anti-trinitarian position can answer this rather easily. The question is one of hermeneutics. Should we use 2nd-4th century creeds and philosophical developments are how they understood the “Word” in Jn. 1? In order to do this we must dismiss the entire OT usage of the term word and all material outside of Scripture used by Jews of the time. Even a growing number of non-apostolics are admitting this is not the best approach.

Numbers 22:38 says, “…the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.” Jer. 23:9 says, “…because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.” These references are clearly about the utterances of the prophet spoken by divine inspiration. Even though this “word” of the Lord is spoken of as independent of God, no one can seriously claim these show a second person. This is being readily admitted today by many non-Oneness scholars, such as noted Cambridge scholar James Dunn. Regarding passages that seem to show the Word being independent of God, Dunn states, “…that is more an accident of idiom than anything else.” He further argues, “But for the prophet the word he spoke under inspiration was no independent entity divorced from Yahweh.” Even Rudolf Bultmann says, “God’s word is God…” Dunn affirms this too stating, “God’s word is God’s act … the manifestation of his power, the real manifestation of God.”Bible with glasses

Scripture speaks clearly in Psalms and the Prophets of the Word being God Himself acting in creation, in judgment, and in salvation. This is simply OT language used in its right and typical function. Even G. F. Moore says, “It is an error to see in such personifications an approach to personalization. Nowhere either in the Bible or in extra-canonical literature of the Jews is the word of God a personal agent or on the way to come such.” Catch that. This isn’t about PERSONS! Further, NOWHERE in any Jewish literature of the time does saying it’s persons exit. Dunn further admits that, “…a considerable consensus has been achieved by the majority of contemporary scholars would agree that the principal background against which the Logos prologue (Jn. 1) must be set is the OT itself…” The OT, not later doctrinal development. We are against this interpretation. We are anti-trinitarian in this sense.

As one man poignantly said, “Right readers must read rightly.” Necessarily then, we must first approach the Bible correctly as the inerrant Word of God. Then, we must read rightly or interpret it correctly by not presupposing our own ideas and reading them into the Scripture. The “Word of the Lord” must be defined by the OT usage, not a post-New Testament invention. The only way one can see a trinity in the reference to the “Word” in John 1 is to presuppose it, ignore the OT usage, interpret it a new way, and disregard the first century usage as well. This is telling “eis-egesis” (reading your meaning into the Bible) not true exegesis (drawing the meaning out of the text’s intention). Which approach is Christian? Which treats Scripture as the inerrant Word of God? The way we use Scripture tells on us. I want to not only say I love and revere His Word, but in my practice demonstrate this is true.

Losing a Whole Generation

Jan 24th, 2018

Robert L. Rodenbush

 

 

by Robert L. Rodenbush

“We’re losing a whole generation — I call it mass murder.” These are the words of a heartbroken mother who buried her son at just 34 years old due to an opioid drug overdose. Yet, despite the crises, there are few places ready to support the families who suffer due to this epidemic. Struggling to deal with her loss, she placed calls around her city for a support group or someone to help. No one called her back.

This mother’s words, taken from an article in Alban Weekly, a publication of Duke Divinity School, were jarring to my spirit. The phrase is not new, I’ve heard it used over and over in the context of losing the battle for this generation’s mind through media indoctrination, losing a generation to pornography or losing a generation to worldliness – but at least in my case, I hadn’t really ever considered that our church family would be at risk of losing a whole generation to drug addiction and overdose.urban view with bike

 

I realize this is not a new problem, but the rate at which it is escalating is new and it should be alarming to all of us. The kids in our pews are not immune. These drugs are cheap, easy to access, and are affecting adults and children from every socio-economic status, every ethnicity and every neighborhood. And it seems no matter whose lives are left shattered, those in the aftermath say they had one common misperception — “That won’t happen to my kid.”

Sadly, it does happen to “our” kids. In the past month our church has been affected by the overdose deaths of four young people, one of whom was just 13 years old. If this were a type of cancer or a communicable disease, the panic and the urgency to protect our families would be unprecedented. Overdose is now the leading cause of death of Americans under age 50. Yet, we still think somehow we are insulated, protected and it won’t happen to us. It is that mindset that must change. First, we must start educating our children and teens. They need the facts, they need guidance and direction in dealing with the availability of these drugs, and they need close monitoring. Secondly, we have to be ready when our communities need support. We have to return those hard calls.

The article mentioned above documents the efforts of a small congregation in Massachusetts that is reaching out to their community. They canvased their rural town with simple signs that had “#2069” printed on them. 2069 is the number of people who had died from overdose at that time in their state. The number has grown, but the message and the support of this one church continues.

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

God Is Not A Robot

Dec 29th, 2017

ibc-faculty-rob-rodenbushby Robert L. Rodenbush

For the past few years, it has seemed as if the pages of the science fiction novels and the storylines from the comic books that fueled our imaginations as children and teenagers are no longer just fantastical tales of intrigue and mystery. The technology that seemed illusory just a decade ago is now readily available for purchase and dominates our lives, our entertainment and eerily the minds of this generation. No longer are robots, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, facial mapping and recognition merely plots in an action movie.

“What is going to be created will effectively be a god. It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lighting or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

These are the chilling words of futurist Anthony Levandowski, found in a British news source (Dailystar.co.uk). Levandowski is a thirty-something, multi-millionaire engineer whose day job has been computerized transportation, self-driving vehicles. But, as if he’s trying to get first dibs on the latest startup, he has turned his sights on what one might call “singularity” of God. When Vinge and Kurzweil began using the term “singularity” to describe the merger of biology and computer technology and the exponential change it would ultimately create, I am dubious to believe that even they could have foreseen the concept used to describe a “godbot.” Yet, Levandowski is not just thinking about creating an artificial intelligence deity but an entire religion.

In August of 2017, Levandowski’s Way of the Future (WOTF) was registered and granted tax-exempt status by the federal government. Robot HandsThis church is dedicated to creating “divine” artificial intelligence that followers will develop and then worship. Its church documents state the objective is: “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence developed through computer hardware and software” (Wired, Nov. 2017). He states: “We’re in the process of raising a god…It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

The discontent of the human heart and deprivation of the Spirit has created among men an insatiable lust for the work of their own hands. These experiments are modern culture’s reality. They are headline news and the ethical dilemmas and moral pitfalls that accompany them are being trampled over as quickly and as mindlessly as Black Friday shoppers rushing through a shopping center – there’s no real need, per se, yet a growing, frantic desire pushes people forward in a great chase for who knows what?

“And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats” (Isaiah 2:17-20).

Does a View of Inerrancy Affect Interpreting the Bible?

Dec 14th, 2017

Bobby Killmon

 

 

by Bobby Killmon

Does one’s view of inerrancy affect interpreting the Bible and if so how? 

First of all, what is inerrancy? It is the claim that Scripture contains no human errors or is free from having mistakes of any kind. What types of errors do others suggest might be in the Bible? Well, historical errors regarding events that didn’t actually happen. For instance, were there two million Israelites in the Exodus? Critics say the record in Exodus is a mistake and if it happened, it was really 20,000. Other suggested “errors” are things like when Matthew describes Jesus’ flight to Egypt and the killing of firstborns, critics claim this never happened historically, but it’s meant only as a literary allusion comparing Jesus to Moses.

Other types of so-called “errors” supposedly in Scripture are things like errors of contradiction: liberals claim one biblical author expresses a view contrary to another. An example is critics suggest 1 & 2 Chronicles is a “retelling” of Samuel & Kings where there are not merely differences in what is focused on but contradictory historical accounts creating hugely different emphasis. Some even claim there are scientific errors where liberal critics say Scripture makes claims about how the physical world works that we now know to be false.

bible-1

Rejecting inerrancy is usually for the new term infallibility. The Westminster Theological Dictionary defines infallibility this way: “The Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose.” Notice the belief in errors is still open in this view, but it allows “infallibility believers” wiggle room for a seemingly strong view of the Bible. Is this the case? 

The problems play out when you start interpreting Scripture and applying it. What options are available? Let’s look at Romans 1 and the issue of homosexuality. If there are “errors” in the Bible because an author may be limited in his understanding of science or history, could it be possible that Paul might be limited in other areas? Could he assume things as true from nature and get it wrong? If you’re an inerrantist, no. But it’s open to discussion with the infallibilists.

Liberal critics are currently arguing Paul’s social location and his limited understanding due to his own cultural heritage, gender and sociology show him to be in error about homosexuality. Some liberals even point out to evangelicals that if Paul made an argument from nature in 1 Corinthians 11 showing women are designed by God to have uncut hair and men to have short hair, why do they dismiss obeying and yet listen to Paul in Romans 1 on homosexuality? If Paul is in error about his argument from nature on hair, why couldn’t he get other things wrong too? 

The dangers of holding to anything but inerrancy is clear. Not only is it the correct biblical position, this slippery slope can only end in doubt, distress and disbelief. No wonder evangelicals are dismissing the authority of Scripture. Inerrancy is one of the frontline defenses Apostolics must guard.

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