Interview On Pillar of Truth

The good folks at the Pillar of Truth interviewed me about my work evangelizing and leading evangelism events.

In 2015 I was interviewed on the Pillar of Truth podcast:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

As you can imagine, I wasn’t any less wordy with them than usual, so they had to cut the interview in parts. 🙂

I do appreciate if you listen and give me feedback.

Miracles to Convert the World

My wife just showed me a FB post where someone quoted Kris Vallotton saying that the church must demonstrate the miraculous works of Christ. It is at least implied that this is what allows nonbelievers to experience repentance.
12-8-2015 10-45-26 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is my response:

The only miracle the world needs to see is people repenting of their superstitions and repenting of their desires for God to perform for them and, instead, trusting in His Word alone. 

Would Christ Call Someone Unchristlike?

I have a general sense that wherever possible we try to use Biblical terminology. This means we say words that people often find offensive. For example, we, as Christians, should not be afraid to call transgression of God’s law “sin,” rather than “a mistake” or “missing the best.”

I think an area where this can get awful hairy is that we need to be careful to define terms. For example, when I grew up I believed the definition of adulterer was someone who was married who cheated on his or her spouse. I now believe differently (Matthew 5:28). So if you had called me an adulterer, I would have been offended at least partially because I didn’t really believe I had committed adultery according to the Biblical definition.

But the problem was not with you, it was with me. I was the adulterer by the Biblical definition of the term.

So here’s today’s rub. Recently, a writer named Karen Swallow Prior (KSP) wrote an article where she proposed calling a woman a murderer who has had an abortion is not only inflammatory, but is unchristlike.

Deut 5:17 You shall not murder.

Much kerfuffle has occurred as the result; and if you click that link now, you will be the beneficiary of some clarifying comments by KSP which I find helpful in clarifying her meaning.

My concern is twofold. 1) I believe the gauging of the terminology is being subjectively measured based on the reaction (inflammation?) of the objects of the terms using an unbiblical pragmatism and 2) I find the entire concept contradictory and hypocritical. I will try to flesh these out briefly and if there is disagreement I’ll provide clarification later. 🙂

I am also going to reserve my comments for the use of the term ‘murder’ in reference to abortion and ‘murderer’ in reference to those who have had an abortion, paid for an abortion, performed an abortion, or coerced or approved of someone having an abortion. #OxfordCommasRule I understand the argument about the other potentially inflammatory terms KSP brought up in her article and may be sympathetic to those.

1. When KSP refers to certain terminology as inflammatory, I believe what she means it that the word ‘murder’ is unnecessarily inflammatory. Certainly a professional writer of high intelligence isn’t against ANY language that could be inflammatory, right? I can’t even imagine that. The very nature (may I say purpose?) of the written word is to evoke a response from the reader. So I think her point is that there are other terms that can be used to communicate the same thought or message which are not “trigger words,” so to speak.

For example, the Bible doesn’t use every possible descriptive term for a man “knowing” his wife when communicating the reality of what is going on when Bible couples made babies. There are certain ways to describe that thought which are, shall I say, more tasteful than others. So the same thought is conveyed without language which may incite the wrong thoughts in the reader.

But KSP offers no reasoning for why this term – ‘murder’ – is so inappropriate. She simply asserts that is it inflammatory language. Considering the Bible’s use of the word murder (repeatedly Luke 18:20, Mark 7:21, Mark 10:19, Matthew 23:35, Matthew 23:31, Matthew 15:19, Jeremiah 7:9), I would argue that there is nothing wrong with the term.

Exodus 21:22 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Is there any doubt that God considers abortion murder based on simply Exodus 21:22-25 above?

Now’s here my conjecture: I think that we have a situation where someone is not fully trusting that it is God who draws people unto himself and that any people he draws will come. (John 6:44, John 6:37). This is an important theological point. If you don’t really believe that God sovereignly brings the elect to himself, and that it is His Word that is the power, then you absolutely need to find ways to improve upon the Biblical language to reach our culture. Not only for salvation’s sake, but for culture change.

But, if you believe that God’s Word is the power unto salvation, and God’s thoughts (revealed through His Word) are higher than our thoughts, then you cannot possibly believe you can use better language than the Bible itself uses.

In my opinion, the reason folks want to change the vocabulary is they believe there will be an effectiveness which cannot be achieved because of what they perceive as the usual reaction to God’s actual Word. Then there are people like myself, who are 100% OK with continuing to preach God’s Word and simply trusting Him with the results…even in the face of apparent ineffectiveness – basically: me not seeing the results I expect.

KSP references Prov 14:12 in her added paragraphs to the article – ironically committing the mistake warned about therein, in my estimation. It is KSP and people who believe as she does in this situation who are not trusting in the Lord’s provision for this battle and are trying to do things in a way which seems right to man. The mere fact that Jesus and the writers of the NT had no issue with the term is enough for me to say striking the term is not an example of the fruit of the Spirit in someone’s life. (James 4:2 for example). The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness doesn’t mean we will always find words that don’t offend or inflame. It is man’s way to deviate from Scriptural language…not to stick to stubbornly.

It is quite subjective anyway. As soon as we strike the word murder from our vocabularies, there will be another term which burns the consciences of the (warning, trigger word ahead) heathen which we will be asked to strike so we can better “have conversation.” Instead, let’s be ambassadors for Christ and simply proclaim His excellencies in His language and decry rebellion against Him the same way.

It is an unbiblical view of the power and sufficiency of God’s Word which I believe is the root of calling the word murder inflammatory and unchristlike.

2. I find the entire concept of the article contradictory and hypocritical.

Secondly, and finally, (I know, I said “brief”), I believe KSP commits the very same “atrocity” she seems so concerned about. Let me explain: the words that KSP used in the article, in fact, inflamed many people! In fact, I would say it was predictable that JD Hall would be inflamed by her article (no offense to JD meant, he should be inflamed).

But that point alone, I question whether KSP could even make that assertion? If it is so wrong to say something which can inflame – then she can’t even say what she said because that statement itself is inflammatory! Albeit I think that is foolish. I think it is OK to say inflammatory things, the question is whether those things are objectively true and/or reasoned from objective truth and Scripture’s teaching.

Does that mean we need to say ‘everything’ that is possibly true in every possible way we could say it? No. Does it mean we must never use words which are predictably inflammatory? No, I don’t believe so. Because that is what Christ did, did he not? He used terms which were inflammatory enough to get him killed! And He knew he was doing it and the reaction he’d get, yet he remained perfectly gentle and meek and all those things that are misunderstood about the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22)

Maybe being gentle and meek isn’t the same as abandoning Scriptural terminology for the sake of a hearer’s conscience and sensitivities?

So here’s the question: if it is unchristlike to call someone who kills an innocent human being a murderer, how unchristlike must it be to call someone unchristlike at all? I mean for basically any reason? The fact is that we are to label people unchristlike for acting in a way which is contrary to how Christ acted or His Holy Spirit would direct us through His Word. But referring to crimes against God and humanity in plain terms is never something condemned in Scripture. If calling a murderer a murderer is unchristlike, then calling someone who is unchristlike “unchristlike” is a great sin!

So would Christ call someone unchristlike? Absolutely. But not in the worldview espoused by the KSP article. That Christ is only capable of inviting people over for no-strings-attached bar-be-cues and hoping the person will ask him where He got the gleam in his eye. So either KSP is right and her article cannot be considered meaningful or she is wrong, in which case her article cannot be considered meaningful.

I am not professing to know KSP’s heart; I’m not calling her a non Christian, nor do I even for a moment pretend she wouldn’t really want to end or at least outlaw abortion. What I am saying is the article in question commits logical errors and exhibits a view of Scripture which I perceive as “lower” than the way most of us think it ought to be perceived. I think it is a worldly influence which causes a person to abandon (at least partially) the Scriptural mandate to confuse the wisdom of the wise with God’s wisdom, and now our own.

That’s my 2 cents. I can tell you this from a personal experience. I would have loved if you would have not called me a racist prior to my salvation. I seriously found the term inflammatory. I hated hearing it. Yet that is what I was. And it really made no difference what you called it. I liked it and you were wrong in my eyes for calling what I did racism (despite the evidence). But God, who is rich in mercy, drew me to Himself and saved me. And once that occurred, the language didn’t bother me. My subjective feelings never really mattered, just God’s objective truth in the matter.

Whether It is Morally Justified to Kill

I would like to clarify my belief concerning whether one would be morally justified in taking the life of an abortionist.

As I am already on record as saying in 2011 (See here, last 4 paragraphs), I in no way am an advocate for the murder of an abortionist or even anyone involved in abortion.

To clarify further, I am referring to individuals choosing to execute their idea of justice (even if their idea comes from the Bible). I am not opposed to the government criminalizing the act of abortion. Subsequently, I would not be opposed if abortion was classified as premeditated murder, worthy of the death sentence – as executed by the government.

Recently, my attention was drawn to a blog post where I thought the morality of killing an abortionist during the act was ambiguous, at best. My further request for clarification on twitter by the author resulted in a number of dear brothers offering concern and correction for what they thought may have been my position.

My twitter interaction with the post’s author was intended to understand why, according to the post in reference, it would be morally wrong to kill an abortionist. What was unsaid and unclear in the twitter interaction is that I already had disagreed with the post’s premises which I believe lead to justified killing. Thus, my interaction was an attempt to get clarification from the author, or to show a clear contradiction to Scripture in the logical result of at least part of the post. I offer a screenshot where I highlighted the portion which I found to possibly support murder of an abortionist:

P&P Post

It is in regard to the fact that I would consider any abortionist in the act of abortion to fit this description that I posed my questions. I am not saying that Pulpit and Pen, in fact, endorses abortionist murder. I am saying that since they do not, this post, and the above paragraph in particular, blurs the lines. If I am the only person who could read this paragraph this way, then I’m sorry about that. It doesn’t appear that’s the case though from what I heard.

I appreciate the kind-hearted brothers who took time from their days to show care for my soul and also confront me and seek clarification. I apologize for my lack of clarity which caused some people to be disturbed.

I believe this 4 year old post is still worthy of your reading. I offer this quote below for your encouragement.

I trust that the preaching of the gospel and fervent prayer are the two greatest acts that anyone can do on behalf of the unborn.

Western “that team up north” vs THE OSU Outreach Report

First off all, hat tip to Jason Marianna for reminding me that “THE” is all caps when referring to THE OSU.

Saturday, September 26, 2015: Joshua Richards and I preached the gospel from about noon to 3pm at the usual spot, Lane and Olentangy River Rd, prior to the Buckeyes’ victory over the Broncos of Western you know.

I only brought a couple hundred tracts with me, and we were able to distribute them all! Pray, dear Christian, that God would bring someone to repentance and faith as the result!

Reading the Bible in public

After Joshua preached for the first time, I delivered this sermon (embedded below). The scripture read included Psalm 14, Romans 1:18-32, Romans 3:10-27; Psalm 1, Psalm 149, and parts of John 10. I have said this before: for many Christians, this is more reading that you are willing to do in a day…or even a week. I’ll confess – some days, that is a problem for me too! Together, let’s repent of our apathy toward God’s Word, shall we?

After Joshua preached a second time, I read the entire book of 1 Peter in the open air and followed it up with 19 minutes of preaching, using 1 Peter as my launching point. At one point, there was a large group of people waiting for the light to change including many children. I was so joyed to have the chance to tell them of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I also read Psalm 23 aloud during that preaching stint. Overall, we filled about 2-2.5 hours of preaching. How we wish for more laborers to join us!

You can see the pedestrian traffic in this picture.

You can see the pedestrian traffic in this picture.

Our culture is so hateful toward God’s law that there was a truck that kept driving by advertising strip clubs with loud music and large images on the side of the truck. Two young ladies women were walking around passing out free passes to a gentlemen’s strip club, as well. Much prayer is needed for our culture and for those of us engaging the culture with the gospel!

While Joshua was preaching, I followed an idea he gave me and I was able to offer prayer to a young man who had been recently injured. That was a really neat way to engage people and get their ear.

Praise Almighty God for His good work that day. His gospel must have been heard by thousands, and He will do as He pleases!

How to Protect Yourself from Deception

I preached this sermon this week at church. Here are the images which are referred to therein:

Picture1

Picture2

Picture3

The Face of Evil

Today is Tuesday, July 21. In recent times, 2 videos have been made public claiming to show that Planned Parenthood intentionally harvests human organs from the babies they murder and sell them. Christians are incensed and are hoping that this will be the turning point in the effort to convince our government to stop subsidizing Planned Parenthood.

I saw a tweet which I considered most poignant after the first video was released. The person (I forget who) said when they look at the eyes of the lady in the first PP video, they expected to see something demonic, or different. But he said what was scary was that all he saw were human eyes. How apropos.

I remember reading a story about the DaVinci painting, The Last Supper. Legend has is the Leonardo painted the Christ first, and in doing so, he passed over hundreds of models until he had found a young man who had the gentle, innocent and soft features which he figured represented the sinless Son of God.

As the story goes, DaVinci, 6 years later, visited the local prison to find a satisfactory model for his representation of Judas Iscariot, the man who would betray Jesus.

For weeks, DaVinci searched for a man with a hard callous face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, hypocrisy, and crime; a face that would delineate a character who would betray his best friend. 1

Finally, Leonardo found a man convicted of murder. While finishing his masterpiece, the young man began to sob uncontrollably. He said to DaVinci, “Do you remember me?”

“No, I have never seen you before in my life,” Leonardo replied.

“I am the man who modeled Jesus for you so many years ago!” said the young man whose life had been destroyed by his sin.

Of course, this story is generally considered mythical, but the human lesson is clear in a twofold way. First, anyone can fall into sin and become something they did not seem to be. Secondly, I would add that we can’t judge by appearances as DaVinci thought he could.

Despite that fact, we still try. We still lock the doors when certain “types” of people are walking by our car at a stoplight. We avoid that aisle in the grocery store, or that side of the street because of some of our preconceived notions of what evil resembles. I will note that sometimes you may be acting wisely – it just depends on what criteria you base your judgement upon.

But in the technology age, with facial recognition software and the ability to generate human images using computer programming I find it not surprising that Google has an image generator, however poorly publicize it is. It is this software which is used to help police to draw images based on witness testimony.

What is neat is you can create your own new face with it. You can enter criteria such as blue eyes, blond hair, etc., but you can also enter attributes like “beautiful,” “funny,” “outgoing,” or “party pooper.”

Google has analyzed over 5 trillion images and indexed the attributes associated with the file, including the comments made concerning that file. So you post a picture of your kid on Facebook and 179 people comment “Cute!” and you have a chance that your kids’ features will be part of the “Cute” algorithm. So using what must be a severely cool algorithm, Google is able to take features from its database of images and morph them into a “face” which personifies those features. With the amount of data analyzed, and taking into account the local proxy server you are using to connect to the internet, it is reported to be accurate over 99.99% of the time in producing an image which the person requesting “completely agrees” matches the attributes requested.

So I gave it a shot. I figured let’s see what our society has labeled the face of evil. Keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of PP supporters would have attributed to abortion providers like the ones in the videos mentioned earlier qualities like “successful,” “beautiful,” or “caring” so I didn’t really expect to see their likeness. Plus, I went with “male,” which I found interesting that there is still that option, but I digress.

I am a precise kinda guy, so I entered a whole number of attributes. I figured I’d just use a list from the Bible:

1 Cor 6:9 …fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers…

Couple of quick word searches and a click and here is what was generated after only about 4 seconds. Notice the eyes and the mouth. Obviously, if you see someone like this, avoid him at all costs. Click the link then you can close the newly opened tab.

Click here to see the face of EVIL.




Do you get it? Again, the interpretation is twofold.

1) Our ideas of what is evil are not only irrelevant, they are foolish. Clouded by our own sinfulness, we have no ability to really identify evil. Only God’s Word really gives us a basis for that judgement.

2) I’m evil.

Yes, that’s my mug shot. That’s the face of evil. That’s the face of a murderous, raping, thieving, God-hating, disrepecter of parents, filled with covetousness and reviling. If you can’t imagine your own face with those descriptors, maybe you don’t really believe in the depravity of man? I’m not asking you if you actually committed all those acts in the flesh, but if you know your evil heart is capable because you believe Jeremiah 17:9

Because no one is good. Not one. No one is righteous, not one. (Romans 3:10-12)

But there is hope. Continuing the earlier verse of sins which keep us out of the kingdom of God is the following:

1 Cor 6:11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Look, instead of avoiding the face of evil, why don’t you give the gospel to that person? Tell the faces of evil in your life of the repentance and faith that is found in Christ alone and trusting His sacrifice and glorious resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.

I am glad someone did that for me.

1 – Text from http://www.truthorfiction.com/lastsupper/

P.S. #SorryNotSorry: The entire story about Google Image Generator was concocted to grab your attention.