25 May 2018

The Root of the Matter

by Phil Johnson



The issue underlying practically every popular evangelical trend we have ever decried here on PyroManiacs is the same moral defect that was the besetting sin of the Pharisees—namely, a craving for human applause. The current ranks of evangelical leadership are filled with men who care far too much about what the world thinks of them. The intellectually sophisticated among our Top Men tend to covet academic esteem, especially from unbelieving scholars. Those who are less—um, cerebrally endowed—just yearn to be admired for being über-cool. Between those two extremes are a legion of evangelical movers and shakers who think they can achieve both goals. Lately, they have sought to do this by cultivating a noisome air of political correctness.

Scripture could not be more clear about the value of this world's approval. Jesus said, "Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26). And, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19). And, "you will be hated by all for my name's sake" (Matthew 10:22). And, "Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets" (Luke 6:22-23).

It's a theme that runs throughout Scripture, starting with Cain's murderous contempt for his own brother's righteous offering, and finally summed up in 1 John 3:13 with this admonition from the Apostle of Love: "Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you."

Christians are expressly forbidden to embrace the world's values or seek its approval: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15-17).

The world is of course our mission field, so we're commanded to love people (including our enemies) as God does (Matthew 5:44-45). But worldly values, entertainments, and ideologies are full of spiritual poison. The current evangelical infatuation with such things is tantamount to treason against God. That's what James was saying when he wrote, "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).

The notion that we must win the world's esteem before the gospel can do its work is, I'm convinced, a spiritually crippling error. But it's also the presupposition underlying most of the trends currently vying for widespread acceptance within the so-called evangelical movement. In reality, for three decades or longer the broad movement has been softening its commitment to (and in many cases totally abandoning) the two most important evangelical convictions—sola Scriptura and sola fide. Those cardinal biblical doctrines are now being replaced by secular dogmas: "wokeness," "social justice" (a liberal counterfeit, not biblical justice), critical race theory, gender fluidity, and an ever-increasing number of ideologies bred and popularized in secular academic circles.

That now includes the normalization of LGTBQ perversions by evangelicals who argue that illicit desires in and of themselves aren't really sin; they are morally neutral expressions of one's "sexual orientation." (More on this subject in the days to come.)

The "gospel-centered" movement that many of us were so enthusiastic for just one decade ago has gone with the drift. The Gospel Coalition has for some time now shown a pattern of embracing whatever new moral issue or political cause is currently popular in Western culture by arguing that this, too, is a legitimate "gospel issue." They are by no means alone in this. Everything from the latest Marvel movie to gun control legislation has been deemed a "gospel issue" by some savvy evangelical writer at one or more of the most heavily trafficked evangelical websites. But if everything is supposedly a gospel issue, the expression "gospel-centered" is rendered meaningless.

As I said in a Tweet earlier today, we must not abandon the focused simplicity of Luke 24:46-47 in favor of a social gospel that encompasses a large complex of racial, economic, and political issues. Every denomination, every educational institution, and every church that has ever made that error has seen a quick demise. I for one don't intend to watch in silence while the current generation repeats that mistake.

Phil's signature

24 May 2018

Phil's Back

by Phil Johnson

It's been more than six years since I retired from the blogosphere. For half a decade, whenever someone would ask if I missed blogging, my honest answer was, "Not at all. Never even once." There wasn't a single moment in all those years when I thought, I wish I were still blogging so I could write something more than a Tweet about this issue. In my seven years of blogging, I had posted on practically every issue I really cared about. I ran out of opinions.

Some History
I began blogging in 2005 because I was concerned about my fellow evangelicals' blithe acceptance of the so-called Emerging Church Movement. It seemed as if every elite evangelical agency—from Christianity Today to the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC)—was foolishly hoping the Emergent Narrative would be The Next Big Thing. They were practically cheerleading for the movement! D. A. Carson was a rare voice of dissent, but his reply to the Emergent idea was (in my view) much too tepid to be an effective critique.

I had tried posting some opinions in the comments sections of a couple of popular blogs, but they made it clear they were not interested in dissenting views. One famous blog closed their comments completely when I tried joining their discussion. So on the last weekday of May 2005 I formally opened my own blog. My main goal was merely to articulate and catalogue my own misgivings about the drive to postmodernize evangelical Christianity. I had no expectation that anyone outside my circle of friends (and my Sunday school class) would be any more interested in my opinions than those blogs that had shooed me away when I commented.

My first real blogpost went live the day after Memorial Day that year. It was a poke at the "Young, Restless, Reformed" movement, though I wrote it a year and a half before Christianity Today and Collin Hansen gave that movement its name.

Right away, readership far exceeded what I anticipated. I immediately realized that I had inadvertently jumped into the deep end of the pool without any floaties.



PyroManiacS: The birth of the Group Blog
So six months in, I invited Dan Phillips and Frank Turk to partner with me in the effort. I'd never met either one of them before, but I'd read their comments on line, and I knew 1) that they shared my views about the folly of postmodernism, and 2) that they were gifted writers with minds full of verbal mischief, more than capable of the kind of critique I wanted to level against the Emergent movement. So we launched the team blog in January of 2006.

We wrote a lot of good, thoughtful posts attempting to provide Emergents with the "conversation" they were saying they wanted. But we quickly noticed a couple of surprising trends. First, the more purposefully rational and irenic our content, the less discussion our writing evoked. Second, no matter what we wrote or how we wrote it, there were swarms of smug postmoderns prepared to deconstruct our prose, pleading for every kind of "tolerance" other than tolerance of others' ideas, preaching love and kindness while eagerly spoiling for a fight with us.



The High-Water Mark
Frankly, making fun of postmodernism's foolish inconsistencies did far more good than trying to reason with postmoderns. Looking back, it seems to me that the Po-Motivators® may well have done more to open readers' eyes to the dangers of evangelical postmodernism than all the text we wrote combined. I'd hate to think those posters were the blog's high water mark, but it's true that the advent of the posters marked the turning point after which our postmodern critics dropped some of their trademark arrogance, and some of them actually left the Dark Side and joined the discussion we were having.

Anyway, the Emergent movement finally died, and we're thankful for that. When we knew the fad was well and truly over (that the popular movement phase had passed, anyway), blogging seemed less urgent and less appealing. I formally retired in 2012 on my 59th birthday, and most of the evangelical blogosphere breathed a deep, cosmic sigh of relief.

At the time, I remarked to anyone who raised the subject that although Emergent was dead and discredited as a movement, it had unleashed countless postmodern ideas and deconstructionist methodologies into the evangelical community, and these would bear some nasty fruit within a decade or less.

I see the fulfillment of that prophecy in a myriad of ways today—including the emboldening of Andy Stanley, the rise of a quasi-evangelical brand of Critical Race Theory, eroding definitions of "biblical inerrancy," evangelical waffling on the moral questions raised by people who classify their own "sexual orientation" as LGBTQ, evangelicals still craving academic recognition or popular esteem from worldly minded people, the recent drift of Russell Moore and the ERLC—and other related or similar issues.

So Here's the Thing . . .
I suddenly have the itch to write about some of these things. Not every day, of course, but from time to time—perhaps weekly or so. Dan Phillips is now blogging to a bigger audience at PJ Media, and Frank Turk is more determined than I to maintain his retirement from controversial social media. Still, I'd love to get occasional contributions from them—or from others, such as Darrell Harrison, Justin Peters, Josh Buice, or anyone else who shares both my passion for biblical Christianity and my contempt for every effort to make the evangelical movement more politically correct. Consider this an open invitation to submit articles you think might be of interest to my readers. If you write enough blogposts that fit, I'll give you a set of keys to the blog and make you an official PyroManiac.

Watch this space for my first actual issues-oriented re-entry into the blogosphere. If the Lord wills, I'll post it sometime next week.

Phil's signature


26 March 2017

Promises


Image result for charles spurgeon

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 16, sermon number 931, "Three precious things."
"His promises are precious because they tell of exceedingly great and precious things."

We have promises in the Bible which time would fail us to repeat, which for breadth and length are immeasurable; they deal with every great thing which the soul can want: promises of pardoned sin, promises of sanctification, of teaching, of guidance, of upholding, of ennobling, of progress, of consolation, of perfection.

In this blessed book you have promises of the daily bread of earth, and of the bread of life from heaven; promises for time, promises for eternity; promises for yourselves, and promises for your children; all these are like the leaves of the tree, and Jesus is the goodly cluster; or, if you will, the apple of gold hidden among the foliage of promises. You have so many promises that all the conditions and positions of the believer are met.

I sometimes liken the promises to the smith’s great bunch of keys which he brings when you have lost the key of your chest, and cannot unlock it. He feels pretty sure that out of all the keys upon the ring some one or other will fit, and he tries them with patient industry. At last—yes—that is it, he has loosened the bolt, and you can get at your treasures. There is always a promise in the volume of inspiration suitable to your present case.

Make the Lord’s testimonies your delight and your counsellors, and they will befriend you at every turn. Search the Scriptures, and you shall meet with a passage which will be so applicable to you as to appear even to have been written after your trouble had occurred; so exactly will it apply that you will be compelled to marvel at the wonderful tenderness and suitableness of it. As if the armourer had measured you from head to foot, so exactly shall the armour of the promise befit you.

The promises are precious in themselves, from their suitability to us, from their coming from God, from their being immutable, from their being sure of performance, and from their containing wrapped up within themselves all that the children of God can ever need.

19 March 2017

“Shortly"


Image result for charles spurgeon


Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Cheque-book of the Bank of Faith, January 2, Pilgrim Publications.

"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Romans 16:20

We are evidently to be conformed to our covenant Head, not only in his being bruised in his heel, but in his conquest of the evil one. Even under our feet is the old dragon to be bruised.

The Roman believers were grieved with strife in the church; but their God was "the God of peace," and gave them rest of soul. The arch-enemy tripped up the feet of the unwary, and deceived the hearts of the simple; but he was to get the worst of it, and to be trodden down by those whom he had troubled.

This victory would not come to the people of God through their own skill or power; but God himself would bruise Satan. Though it would be under their feet, yet the bruising would be of the Lord alone.

Let us bravely tread upon the tempter! Not only inferior spirits, but the Prince of darkness himself must go down before us. In unquestioning confidence in God, let us look for speedy victory.

"SHORTLY." Happy word! Shortly we shall set our foot on the old serpent! What a joy to crush evil! What dishonour to Satan to have his head bruised by human feet! Let us by faith in Jesus tread the tempter down.

12 March 2017

“Sink"


Image result for charles spurgeon

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 51, sermon number 2,927, "Love at leisure."
"Love your Lord now."

Let such words as these be upon your lip, “Lord, I am not worthy to be called by your grace. I am not worthy to be written in thy book of life. I am not worthy that thou shouldest waste a thought on me, much less that thou shouldest shed thy blood for me.

I do remember now what I was when thou didst first deal with me. I was cold, careless and hard towards thee, but very wanton and eager towards the world, giving my heart away to a thousand lovers and seeking comfort anywhere except in thee. And when thou didst come to me, I did not receive thee.

When thou didst knock at my door, I did not open to thee, though thy head was wet with dew and thy locks with the drops of the night. And, oh! since through thy grace I have admitted thee, and thou and I have been joined together in bonds of blessed union, yet how ill have I treated thee!

O my Lord! How little have I done for thee! How little have I loved thee! I could faint in thy presence to think that if thou didst examine me and cross-question me, I could not answer thee one of a thousand questions thou mightest ask me.

Thy book accuses me of negligence in reading it. Thy throne of grace accuses me of slackness in prayer. The assemblies of thy people accuse me that I have not been hearty in worshipping. There is nothing, either in providence or in nature, or in grace, but what might bring some accusation against me. The world itself might blame me that my example so little rebukes it; and my very family might charge that I do not bless my household as I should.”

That is right, dear brother, or sister. Sink; go on sinking; be little; be less; be less still; be still less; be least of all; be nothing.

05 March 2017

The resurrection of reputations


Image result for charles spurgeon

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 41, sermon number 2,432, "Kept from iniquity."
"The tongue is a very sharp instrument, it cutteth like a razor, and pierceth even to the bones."

If men blow out the candle of a Christian’s reputation, God will light it again; if he does not do so in this life, remember that at the resurrection there will be a resurrection of reputations as well as of bodies: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

It is, after all, of very small account what is said by men whose breath is in their nostrils. “They say. What do they say? Let them say.” Let them say till they have done saying; it little matters what they say.

26 February 2017

Redemption through His blood


Image result for charles spurgeon

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 37, sermon number 2,207, "Redemption through blood."
"Do you ask—'How is it that there should always need to be redemption by blood, in order to the forgiveness of sin?' I call your attention to the expression, 'Redemption through his blood.'" 

Observe, it is not redemption through his power, it is through his blood. It is not redemption through his love, it is through his blood. This is insisted upon emphatically, since in order to the forgiveness of sins it is redemption through his blood, as you have it over and over again in Scripture. “Without shedding of blood is no remission.”

But they say—they say—that substitution is not just. One said, the other day, that to lay sin upon Christ, and to treat him as guilty, and let him die for the unjust, was not just. Yet the objector went on to say that God forgave men freely without any atonement at all.

Of this wise critic I would ask—Is that just? Is it just to pass by breaches of the law without a penalty? Why any law at all? and why should men care whether they keep it or break it? It was stated by this critic that God, out of his boundless love, treated the guilty man as if he were innocent.

I would ask—if that be right, where is the wrong of God’s treating us as innocent because of the righteousness of Christ? I venture to affirm that pardon is needless, if not impossible, upon the theory that the man, though guilty, is treated as if he were not guilty. If all are treated alike, whether guilty or not guilty, why should anyone desire pardon?

It were easy to answer cavillers, but they really are not worth the answering. It is to me always sufficient if I find a truth taught in Scripture: I ask no more. If I do not understand it, I am not particularly anxious to understand it: if it be in the Scriptures, I believe it.

I like those grand, rocky truths of the Bible which I cannot break with the hammer of my understanding, for on these I lay the foundations of my soul’s confidence.

Redemption by blood is here linked with forgiveness of sins, and, in many other Scriptures we find it plainly stated. It is so. Let that stand for a sufficient answer to all objectors.