Why that Lesbian Eskimo Bishop Lady Is Not a Christian

In his book, Reformed Is Not Enough, Douglas Wilson argues that baptism is the objective sign of the new covenant. Those who are born into the church and baptized as infants are members of the new covenant and therefore Christians. He anticipates an objection to his position: “You mean that you are saying that lesbian Eskimo bishop lady is a Christian?” He replies, “She is not a Buddhist, she is not a Muslim, yes, in the New Testament sense, she is a New Testament Christian.” But would the authors of the New Testament call such a person a Christian? What is it that defines a Christian?

The authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith (a document which Wilson says he believes in) had a word for such a person: false professor. By “professor” they did not mean someone who teaches, but someone who professes something to be true. They are religious hypocrites who profess that they are Christians while they are self-deceived. A practicing lesbian in New Testament Christianity would not be called a Christian, but called to saving faith and repentance while being removed from the membership of the church. This was Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth concerning the man living in unrepentant sexual immorality:

“When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’ . . . Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 5:4-13; 6:9-11).

Paul did not call this man a brother, but someone bearing the name of brother who demonstrated by his actions that he was no brother at all. By removing him from the membership of the church, Paul and the church in Corinth are saying to this man that they see no evidence in his life that he is a Christian because Christians do not live this way. Christians have been changed by the radical work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. The New Testament defines a Christian as someone who is a disciple or follower of Christ (Acts 11:26). It is only those who abide in Christ’s words who are his true disciples (John 8:31). An unrepentant practicing lesbian is not following Christ or abiding in his words and therefore not a Christian (Rom 1:21-28).

As a Baptist, I can consistently respond to Wilson’s position by advocating regenerate church membership. Because only those who know God are members of the new covenant, only those whom the church recognizes as Christians may partake of the ordinances of the new covenant. Wilson’s position dilutes the purity of the church by intentionally introducing into it those who have not been born again. Wilson is right in saying that being Reformed is not enough, we must become Baptists as well.

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Sunday Meditation – No Parley with Sin

“Two things actively unite in temptation: Satan and lust. Our lust rises with purpose to express itself in the extreme. Every expression of it would be a settled enmity against God. Look at it in its first attempts as your mortal enemy. Hate it; it is the greatest enemy you have. O that it were killed and destroyed! O that I were delivered out of its power! Satan does not have a friendly intention towards you any more than your lust. Is he not a participant in every one of your temptations? Is he a friend when he seeks to beguile you as a serpent, and to devour you as a lion? When Satan tempts you to break the law he also seeks to divert you away from the gospel itself. He uses sin as a bridge to worse ground, to assault your interest in Christ. He will say today, ‘You may venture on sin, because you have an interest in Christ’, but tomorrow he will tell you that you no interest in Christ because of your sin. Meet your temptation in its entrance with the thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross; this will make it sink before you. Entertain no parley with sin. Say, ‘It is Christ that died – that died for sins such as these!'”

John Owen

How Is Death Gain?

This Saturday I will be preaching the memorial service for my grandmother Shirley who passed away last month. The text I have chosen to preach on is Philippians 1:21 where Paul say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” But how can dying be gain? Death is not a good thing. The Bible describes death as an enemy, not a friend to be embraced (1 Cor 15:26). We put off thinking about death because it reminds us that we will one day die as well. Funerals are one of the rare occasions when we are forced to stare it in the face and admit our own mortality. The deaths of others remind us that our life is a vapor that is here one moment and gone the next (Jas 4:14). The puritans were unsure whether to call this life a dying life or living death. Every day we inch closer to our own demise and we feel the evidence of this as our bodies deteriorate and decay.

Death exists because of man’s fall into sin and rebellion against God. Because of sin, we live in fear of death. The wages of sin is death and therefore the only way death could be defeated is by defeating sin, the power of death (Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:56). Only Christianity has a savior who has come back from the dead and that is why Christ is the only way to God. And because Shirley trusted in Christ who defeated death, even though she is dead, she has gained everything. We can only have confidence in the face of death because we believe in one who has returned from death. He is on the other side waiting for the day when we will be with him forever as his bride.

Death is gain for believers because it will put an end to their sins. At death, they enter into never-ending service and worship. Death puts an end to our temptations. We are tempted and tried all our days. After death, we will never again be troubled by Satan’s fiery darts. Death puts an end to the believer’s fears. We do not need to live in fear of death because Christ has conquered death through his own death and resurrection.

Death drys up the believers tears. We enter the world crying and leave it the same way if we die without Christ. But we can leave it in joy if we are in Christ when we die. Death puts an end to our cares and worries. A life lived by faith is the dawn of heaven and a preparation for eternity. Death puts an end to our spiritual desertion. God will no longer hide his face from us. Death puts an end to our weary pilgrimage. This life is a journey and the end of it is the celestial city in the new heavens and new earth where our bodies will be resurrected and glorified.

It is not wrong for Christians to grieve when their loved ones die. We each grieve in different ways. But the grief of Christians is not like the grief of those who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13). We should not grieve excessively for those who have had every tear wiped from their eyes. We should not mourn immoderately for those who are now rejoicing in the presence of Christ. Rather, let us weep for ourselves that we are not yet free from the burden of sin.

Sunday Meditation – Prayer and Temptation

“Let us consider our Saviour’s instruction to ‘pray that you do not enter temptation.’ Prayer is a means to preserve us from it. All men that know anything of prayer, know what glorious  things it can do, yet half is not told of its excellence, power, and effectiveness to avoid temptation. Prayer casts our souls into a military posture of opposition to temptation (Eph. 6:18). Without prayer, the armour of God will be of no value to stand against Satan’s strategies. Consider what weight Paul lays on prayer when he says ‘Praying always.’ He means at all times and seasons. We should always be ready and prepared for the discharge of this important duty (Luke 18:1). Paul also exhorts, ‘with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.’ We are to pray with desires for God, that are suited to our condition, and according to his will, in which we are assisted by the Holy Spirit. We are to be watchful in it, so we are not diverted  by anything whatsoever, and we are to pray with all perseverance to the very end, that we might stand firm. The soul thus engaged is in a healthy posture. Without prayer, this important work will not be accomplished. If we do not abide in prayer, we shall abide in cursed temptations. With this in mind – abide in prayer with this express purpose: that we do not enter into temptation. Let this be one part of our daily wrestling with God: that he might preserve our souls, and keep our hearts and our ways. Pray that his good and wise providence will order our ways and affairs, that no pressing temptation might befall us. Pray that he would give us diligence, carefulness, and watchfulness over all our ways, that we shall be delivered when others are held fast with the cords of their own folly.”

John Owen

Are All Sins the Same?

There is a misconception among many people that God sees all sin the same. It is true that all sin is deserving of the wrath of God, but some sins are more heinous in his eyes than others. Jesus declared to Pontius Pilate that, “He who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). If all sin is the same, then how could Jesus speak of their sin as being greater than his? Jesus also speaks of “the weightier matters of the law” (Matt 23:23). Some laws are more important than others and therefore breaking them is a greater crime in comparison. We also see this principle in the application of punishments for sin. Not all sins are punished with the death penalty and not all sins are criminalized. The more sinful the sin, the more serious the consequences.

This misunderstanding is partially the result of a wrong interpretation of Matthew 5:28 where Jesus says, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” It is then argued that looking at a woman lustfully is the same as committing adultery with her. But this argument overlooks the key phrase in his heart. Jesus is not saying that looking at a woman with lustful intent is the same as actually committing adultery with her, but that the desire to commit adultery is the sinful root of the act of adultery. Every lustful thought would lead to adultery if taken to its logical conclusion. Likewise, when Jesus says that, “Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,” he is not saying that anger is the same as murder, but that anger is the root cause of murder. While anger is not as sinful as murder, it is still sin in God’s eyes.

If all sin is the same, then a person could reason to himself that because he has already had lustful thoughts about a woman he is not married to, he had might as well go all the way and have an affair since an affair is no more sinful than what he has already been doing. But this is the devil’s logic that is based on a twisted view of God’s law. The truth that all sin is not the same does not mean we should think lightly of acceptable sins. Rather, acceptable sins are evil because they result in even greater sins. And once you accustom yourself to sin, it is difficult to stop. The longer you go on in sin, the more difficult it is to repent.

Sunday Meditation – Secret Lusts

“We have a traitor in our very heart, who is ready to unite against us. He will argue for us to give up in the assault; yea, he will solicit and bribe the temptation to do its work. Do not flatter yourself that you can hold out. There are secret lusts that lie dormant, lurking in your hearts, temporarily quiet, waiting for the opportunity of temptation to befall you. It will then rise, argue, cry, disquiet, and seduce, with perseverance, until either they are killed or satisfied. He that promises himself that the frame of his heart will be the same under the power of the temptation as it was before, will be woefully mistaken. He whose heart currently abhors the thoughts of a particular sin, will be powerfully inflamed towards it when he enters into temptation. All contrary reasonings and objections will be overpowered and silenced. He will deride his former fears, cast out his scruples, and condemn his former convictions. Little did Peter ever think he could so easily deny his Master. When the hour of temptation came, all resolutions were forgotten and all love to Christ was buried. The present temptation united with Peter’s carnal fear and carried him away before it.”

John Owen

Should Women Who Have Abortions Be Punished?

There has been a great deal of discussion on the internet recently about whether women who have abortions should be punished by law if abortion were to become illegal. It is often argued that abortionists should be punished, but not the women who visit them. This is the dominant position in the pro-life movement today. But this belief is dead wrong and I’m going to explain why in this article even though the reason should be obvious.

Let’s say a woman is raising a one-month-old child and decides she no longer wants to be a mother because of the stress and cost of taking care of that child. She regrets not having an abortion because then she would not have to deal with the consequences of giving birth to a child. So she hires a hitman to abduct her baby and kill him so that she no longer has to be a mother. Should she be held legally responsible for the crime of hiring a hitman to kill her child? If you answer, “Yes,” then on what basis should a woman who hires an abortionist to kill her unborn child not be held legally responsible? The only difference between a one-month-old and an unborn child is the level of development. The only way you can make an argument that mothers who kill their unborn children should not be held criminally responsible is by agreeing with the pro-choice logic that killing an unborn child is fundamentally different than killing a child who is already born. Every objection against holding women who have abortions responsible for what they have done could be used against prosecuting the woman in this scenario who hires a hitman to kill her child.

By saying that women who have abortions should not be punished, the modern pro-life movement is saying that it is not actually interested in abolishing all acts of abortion. If the pro-life movement had its way, almost as many abortions would take place as they do now. Surgical abortion would simply be replaced by chemical abortion. And there would be no accountability for women who take abortion-inducing drugs under this policy. That would mean a woman who smokes marijuana is more legally liable under the law than a woman who takes a drug to end the life of her unborn child.

Those who argue that women who have abortions should not be criminally charged fail to cite any Scripture to support their position. That’s because this viewpoint does not come from the Bible, but from the Roman Catholic Church which was involved in the pro-life movement before most Protestants were. This argument is built around the myth that women who intentionally kill their unborn children are victims rather than accomplices in a murder. There may have been a time when a woman could claim that she did not know what she was doing when she had an abortion. But the time for ignorance is past. The amount of knowledge we have today concerning the development of the child in the womb is incredible in comparison to the days of Roe v. Wade. Anyone with access to the internet can see pictures of every stage of development in the womb.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 8:11 that, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.” Laws against evil serve as a deterrent to restrain those who are evil. This is the true purpose of the government (Rom 13:4). Without any legal accountability for abortion, there is no incentive for a woman not to have one. This is the reason why we punish both prostitutes and those who visit them. The same is true for those who purchase illegal drugs and those who sell them. Both parties must be punished or else only the seller would have an incentive to not engage in criminal behavior. Decriminalizing an action is the same as legalizing it because either way there is no punishment for the one who commits it.

One of the objections to the position advocated here is that this would result in punishing women who are in crisis rather than helping them. A woman with an unplanned pregnancy is a woman in crisis. But a woman who has had an abortion is no longer a woman with the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy because she has dealt with that problem through abortion. She is now no longer a woman in crisis, but a woman with the guilty conscience of having murdered her child. When ministering to a person who has committed murder, the church has a role to play in proclaiming the gospel to him or her and the government has an obligation to punish those who take life.

Another objection is that this would make it more difficult to prosecute abortionists because women would fear coming forward to testify against the abortionist for fear of being criminally charged. But why do prosecutors need the testimony of women who have participated in abortion to prove that the abortionist has committed a crime? When a woman hires a hitman to kill her husband, is her testimony against the hitman essential to proving the case? Holding women accountable for abortion would actually increase the likelihood of having them testify in court against abortionists because prosecutors can offer them the plea deal of a reduced sentence for their crime in having the abortion. If these women have not committed a crime, then no plea deal could be offered to them and they would have less of an incentive to testify.

Some might argue, “But women who had abortions before Roe v. Wade were not held legally responsible.” That is true. And that is one of the reasons why Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. Not punishing women involved in abortion helped to create a pro-choice culture because there was no deterrent against it. It was inconsistent to punish abortionists while not punishing the women who hired them so the courts stopped punishing abortionists.

But what about situations where a woman is forced into having an abortion by the father? In that case, the father or those who pressured her into having an abortion should be held responsible. A woman who feels as if an abortion is the only option should contact her nearest crisis pregnancy center or visit a church who can help her. There are many Christians waiting to help women in crisis if they only knew where to look.

As others have indicated, inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument. It’s time for those who are in academia and leaders in the pro-life movement to listen to the voice of the church instead of Roman Catholicism. I would be in agreement with Tony Miano’s position on abortion.