Thursday, April 30, 2009

One Upon a Time, A Heretic Came to NWC Chapel…

I believe it was in ‘97-‘98 or ‘98-‘99 school year that we had a chapel speaker come to my Christian college. I was a freshman or sophomore when he spoke, and he is one of the speakers that I clearly remember, and that was at least a decade ago, but this is one of the speakers that I remember. The speaker was a young(er) man who made three statements to open up his message to the student body, and I will paraphrase from memory what was said:

One: tonight hundreds of children are going to bed hungry. Two: you don’t give a damn. Three; most of you are more concerned that I said “damn” than the fact that hundreds of children are going to bed hungry.

Now to be fair, I cannot remember if the subject of the first statement was hunger, death, disease, or something else. But what I do remember that the first statement was something along those lines – it could have been something to the effect that people are dying and going to hell, but I do not believe that was the case. Regardless, it appears that the speaker was right – I did care more about the second of his statements than the first. Not because profanity in and of itself is more concerning to me than caring for people, but if someone gets up in a pulpit and uses foul language that I do not expect from a gospel messenger – of course that is going to cause me to pause and give me concern.

But then, Bart Campolo, the speaker I am referencing, is not a herald of the gospel. He is not an evangelist or a minister or a missionary. Technically you have to be a Christian in order to be any of these, and Bart Campolo is not. He is a heretic.

I do not say this because of his statements from chapel 10 years ago that I remember somewhat foggily, nor do I say it because of my similar conclusion about his father, Tony Campolo. Here is my reason:

In an article posted on his blog on January 10, 2008 (and apparently published in Youth Specialties) he was responding to a letter from someone concerned how Bart could believe in the god and the bible. He wrote that his “most cherished ideas about God are supported by the Bible” but that “they did not originate there.” He then begins to paint a picture of a cosmic dualistic battle where his god is nothing near the omnipotent and sovereign God of Scripture. He is well aware of this fact, to which he wrote,
Unfortunately for me, God may be very different than I hope, in which case I may be in big trouble come Judgment Day. Perhaps, as many believe, the truth is that God created and predestined some people for salvation and others for damnation, according to His will. Perhaps such caprice only seems unloving to us because we don’t understand. Perhaps, as many believe, everyone who dies without confessing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior goes to Hell to suffer forever. Most important of all, perhaps God’s sovereignty is such that although He could indeed prevent little girls from being raped, He is no less just or merciful when He doesn’t, and both those children and we who love them should uncritically give Him our thanks and praise in any case.

My response is simple: I refuse to believe any of that. For me to do otherwise would be to despair.1

As if this blatant heresy is not bad enough, and denying the exclusivity of Christ is heresy of the first order, he goes on to write this:
Of course, to believe in God the way I do is to change the rules of ministry, and especially of youth ministry. I still convince young people to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour, but not because I’m afraid God will damn them to Hell if they don’t. On the contrary, I want kids’ to follow Jesus because I genuinely believe it’s a better life. Eternity aside, I want their lives to be transformed by God’s truth right now, for their sakes and for the sake of all the hungry and broken people out there who need them to start living His disciples. After all, the sooner we all start following Jesus by feeding the poor and freeing the oppressed, the sooner God’s will will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. But most of all, I evangelize people because I know they are my loving God’s beloved children, and I don’t want them to live a minute longer without knowing too that most wonderful fact of life.2

If Bart is not a blatant example of a knowing and willful wolf in sheep’s clothing, I do not know who would be better to fill such a category. He admits that he doesn’t hold to the orthodox Christian faith, but yet he “evangelizes” young people to “accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour” when he doesn’t believe that this is necessary for someone to do in order to be at peace with God. One wonders what a “gospel” message would sound like coming from Mr. Campolo.

But I do not know what is more disturbing – the fact that he believes this and has gone on record with his blatantly heretical beliefs or that Christian colleges still invite him to speak. He came to my school in the late ‘90s, and I do not know what his position would have been back then. But he is currently on a list of chapel speakers (along with his father, Tony Campolo) at another Christian school where many people I know have gone.

Where is the discernment in Christian institutions?

The school I am referring to is one that I found by googling “bart campolo chapel” and it was the second hit on the list. Northwestern College in Orange City Iowa…sad, very very sad.3


2 Ibid.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thoughts from Leviticus 2

I elected to take a class on the book of Leviticus at seminary because of all of the books of the Bible, Leviticus is on a short list of the books that are more difficult to read or study because of the information contained and the way in which it is presented. My hope in taking this class would be to increase my understanding of the book so that I could read it and learn from it better. And while I am not currently done with the class yet, I must say that I have been very blessed by more of a thorough study of the book.

One of my tasks is to write some papers relating to some subjects of the book, and I thought that since the first five or six chapters tend are the foundation for the book and the whole sacrificial system that we see in the Old Testament, I have decided to write on four or five of the sacrifices shown there. Most recently I have been looking at the grain offering

The Component of the Offering:

While the primary component of the Grain Offering is fine flour, the offerings were additionally to include oil, frankincense, and salt. It has been noted that frankincense was not only added to give “a grateful perfume”1 to the offering, but it also acted as a fuel accelerant which aided the burning of the offering. The salt added symbolized the offering’s “durability or eternality”2 and its preservation from corruption of the thing offered and implied God’s faithfulness to the “eternal permanence of the holy covenant of salvation into which Israel has entered with God.”3 Both leaven and honey are explicitly restricted from being included in the offering. One possible reason for this is `that both of these materials are “prone to ferment and decay” and would mingle corruption with the preservative of the salt and thus “change the nature of the offering.”4 Another reason is these materials were used in offerings to pagan deities during that same time, and their omission would clearly distinguish offerings to the LORD from offerings to false gods.

Practical Application:

In some of the reading, there were comments about the ways in which this might be applicable to us, and I believe it was Rooker who noted that we might be wise to resist the incorporation of things into our worship for the same reasons that honey or leaven were not allowed into this sacrifice. So the question is in what way would we be able to apply this type of standard to our worship settings today?

Perhaps the best way that the exclusion of honey and leaven may be more applicable to today’s Christian worship that I have come up with has to do with what we bring into the worship setting. In a day and age when many churches in the United States offer their version of a risqué sermon series on sex with each seemingly trying to be more shocking than the one before it, I have many reasons to object to this on a number of levels. But one specific level can be that since the culture is so sex-centered – between the enormous industry that is Internet pornography and other adult entertainment operations – that I believe that we are embroiled in our own version of the fertility cults and religions when the ancient world worshipped Baal or Ashtoreth.

Therefore on this basis, it would be a direct application to say that we should go to great lengths to abstain from course or risqué use of sexual content in our gatherings because this is what the world already worships and we do not want to confuse worship of the Lord Jesus Christ with something that is crass and vulgar. Not that this type of subject matter should never be addressed or that it should be completely off limits, it is the way in which we address such things that, in my view, might be objectionable on the basis of the pattern seen in the grain offering’s regulations as they related to the cultures surrounding Israel.

Just a few thoughts.

Soli Deo Gloria.

1 Kellogg, Samuel Henry (1839-1899). The Book of Leviticus. In The Expositor's Bible, ed. By W. Robertson Nicoll. p 71

2 Mark F. Rooker. Leviticus. New American Commentary. Vol. 3A. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2000. p 98

3 Kellogg p. 75

4 Rooker p. 97

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Blessings of "Bible-Time" with my kids

I have been blessed with the opportunity to have evening before-bedtime Bible-time become a habit with my children. So much so that my kids practically stage a coup if we just sing and pray without reading if it is too late in the evening. Now I think that any child would have a desire for the consistency of a bed-time routine regardless if you read Mother Goose, Dr. Seuss, the Bible, or something else – but I am very grateful that my children have become accustomed to the Bible reading and look forward to it, and they do not really have a spoken desire to read something else.

Now if that isn’t sweet enough that my kids love Bible-time, they also love to talk about the Bible and ask questions…and that is where I am really pleased. Bible-time, in my house, is not just a time to read the stories of David and Goliath, Samson, Daniel and the Lions Den, and the birth of Jesus, but it is a time of teaching them big truths for their little hearts and minds to wrestle with. I might mention how I deal with some of the subject matter later (like the doctrine of the Trinity) and how I address it with them or what some of my goals are, but for now let it be known that we deal with some pretty heavy stuff for almost 6 year-old and a 3 ½ year old to wrestle with.

Although the nightly Bible-time that we have is very consistent, my preparedness for each time is not very consistent. I’m not saying that it is imperative that I need to study for hours each day in order to teach my children the evenings lesson (not that it would be a bad thing to do this and it would definitely be beneficial), but if we’re going to read the Bible (which we normally do) usually we read what the kids request. Noah might say, “I want to read Abraham” – this means…anything where Abraham is mentioned, and so the field is pretty wide open – and Micah might say “I want to read something that we’ve never read before,” so the field is wide open but it has lent to my not preparing anything. What I always prepare to do is to get the gospel message of their sin, God’s anger at sin, their just punishment before God, who Jesus is, His death and resurrection, and salvation grace through repentant faith – to get that message to them nightly. Now, this is no small thing, for these are the subjects that they must deal with first before any other level of teaching or application can be addressed. But, I did not like that I was walking in unprepared to deal with whatever we might read…so I tried something new yesterday.

The day before we’d read a little bit in Luke 2 about Jesus staying at the temple and interacting with the teachers. I told the boys that the next night we’d read about John the Baptist. So the next morning I read Luke 3 to be thinking about what we’d read later in order to be prepared. Now, I am not sure of which factor played the bigger role, but between having the Scripture on my mind during the day and the questions of my boys – I was greatly blessed by our Bible-time.

So without typing out our conversation (a conversation between a daddy and two small children is hard enough to follow when you’re present), suffice it to say that some of their questions, my answers, and the application of bearing fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8) and those not bearing fruit being cut down and thrown into the fire (Luke 3:9) were, I trust, helpful to their little minds and hearts as well as provoking me to want further study and understanding on some of the things in this text.

I don’t know how we would have progressed had I not been a little prepared for that specific passage, but I do know that having been prepared I was blessed more by reading and talking about the Word than other times.

…who’d’a thunk it?

So tonight – we’re reading about the baptism of Jesus. Fun stuff!

Soli Deo Gloria.

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