Saturday, January 17, 2015

SCOTUS Will Rule

In today’s paper we learn that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has decided to rule on gay marriage in the coming session. This should come as no surprise to culture-watchers. It has never been a matter of “if,” but “when.” At issue is the legality of same sex unions in every state. Currently, 36 states have legalized these marriages. If SCOTUS decides in favor of gay marriage, that decision will overturn the ban in the remaining states.

Obviously, this ruling would have serious implications for organizations that seek to uphold marriage as defined scripturally as one in which a “man shall leave his mother and father and cling to his wife” (Gen. 2:24). Jesus repeated this in Matt. 19:5 so that the principle can be located in both Testaments. For example, many Rescue Missions, (the ministry with which I am affiliated), have family units that provide emergency shelter for families. If family is redefined, these shelters will need to decide which definition will prevail.

I predict that SCOTUS will rule in favor of gay marriage, allowing same sex couples across the country to enjoy the legal rights and privileges of any married couple. And when this happens, a lament will be heard throughout the land that we have lost ground in the cultural war. Being a contrarian by nature, I offer these observations:

·         We lost the culture war a long time ago. It is doubtful if we were ever winning. While evangelicals were fighting and protesting against same sex marriages and abortion (which we should have done), heterosexual immorality (an archaic phrase if there ever was one) crept in to the church and has become an accepted practice. I know of individuals who are violently opposed to homosexual immorality, but thought little of their own heterosexual immorality.
·         It seems to me that Christianity thrived and flourished and “turned the world upside down” in a culture that was hostile to faith. That Christians would have even considered that they were losing the culture was foreign to them. They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims.

Not only do I predict that SCOTUS will rule in favor of gay marriage, I also predict that, when they do:
  • The gospel will still be the power of God for salvation.
  • Christians will still be called to live counter-culturally
  • Truth will still continue to be offensive to a world estranged from God.
  • Jesus will still be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. SCOTUS will only be SCOTUS.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: The Evangelism Study Bible

When I agreed to review the Evangelism Study Bible, I did so out of a sense of curiosity. My perspective is that all of Scripture is about Christ, and therefore it is all evangelistic in the sense that one can get to the gospel all throughout its pages. I was curious to see how the editors would handle something that that is inherently evangelistic and make it more overtly so. I was also curious to see this Bible because it seems to me that the last thing the church needs is another study Bible.
Now that I have perused the Study Bible and read many of the notes, I readily admit my surprise at how much I enjoyed this work. Several features commend the work. Specifically, it aids in showing that the Bible is a “Jesus book.” The notes in the Evangelism Study Bible help the reader to see Christ, especially in the Old Testament.  In many ways, this is a study Bible for apologetics.  The editors address some of the hard questions and apparent contradictions that sometimes become barriers to belief.

Two additional observations are in order; one of which is practical and the second is somewhat theological. First, I would like to see this Bible offered in a variety of translations. I like the NKJV, but it is not my translation of choice. I understand that this may involve publication and copyright issues, but a wider choice would be nice.

Second, the editors continue to promote a perspective that separates salvation from discipleship. The idea that one can become an entry level Christian and later opt to become (or not to become) a committed follower of Christ has a long history and a vast following. In the notes, discipleship is presented as a costly and attractive option (see the notes on Matthew 16:24-27, p. 1070), but an option nonetheless. The goal in this is to emphasize the free grace of God in salvation, denying any mixture of human effort. This, of course is scriptural and right. But the grace that is free is not cheap. It does more than save a sinner; it transforms him. This complete transformation is taught in verses like 2 Corinthians 5:17 and receives scant comment in the notes. Perhaps if we spoke more about conversions as opposed to salvations we might come closer to the truth.

In all, I like this Study Bible. It offers a different perspective that will be useful for those who are committed to follow Christ’s injunction to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising