As a rule in my station as a Pastor, I avoid matters psephological so as not to politicize the pulpit; I concern myself less about elections than about the Elect. Still, sometimes issues are raised in the discourse of the political sphere that deserve ministerial attention.
Recently, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has been criticized for his profession of Mormonism, delivered an asseverational speech on the palmary importance of religious tolerance to our Nation. He eloquently expressed this central concept thusly:
A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.
Whether that faith is Baptist, Evangelical, Southern Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Adventist, Jehovah's Witness, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, or Mormon, the important thing is that we Americans share faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Even Jews, being imperfect pre-Christians, have in them the potential to share in this, our common, foundational American value, should they stop their obstinate refusal to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. Patience is a virtue that we Americans are happy to show them.
Although Romney's faith is horribly wrong in its details, perhaps even to the point of endangering the immortal souls of its followers, he is still a God-fearing Christian man, as he clearly expressed in his sermon:
There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree. ... There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution.
We as Christian voters should not focus on his doctrinal flaws, egregious as they may be, but instead on how he would move our Nation forward in God's plan. If he is elected, there will be ample opportunities to heal the spiritual wounds of Mitt Romney and other Mormons. As with the Prodigal Son, we should put aside our objurgations so as to welcome back into the arms of our Nation him and his kind, who have long been lost in the riotous distant land that is the Utah of the soul.
When God blessed the creation of our Nation, He gave us the principle of religious tolerance so as to ensure our unity in carrying out His mission in an American koinonia. As President Lincoln famously paraphrased Christ, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." If we bicker among ourselves over adiaphora -- such as the Triclavianist would have us do -- we will weaken our National resolve and leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would abolish our Covenant Freedom, a threat that Romney also addressed:
Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone. ... We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God.
Those who wish to remove God from the public domain -- to promote the "religion of Secularism" as Romney put it -- are the enemies of freedom and the greatest threat that our Nation faces in this, the End Times. Religious tolerance requires intolerance to the irreligious, since the irreligious deny the freedom that allows us to commune with God. While a person should not be elected or rejected because of his faith, we cannot but reject him for lack of faith. By ensuring that our elected officials are religious men and women, without falling into the divisive trap of requiring them to pass doctrinal tests, we will be able to preserve our freedom from the militant Atheists who seek to destroy Christianity and our Nation.
Firstly, I must apologize for not updating this journal in quite a while. I have been engrossed in both my ministerial duties and working on my book, From Deluge to Dort: How Infralapsarianism Doomed the Dinosaur, and haven't found the time to keep up with the fast-paced, always-something-new demands of the Internet. However, my wife, Peggy, who is quite the Internet aficionado, has been prodding me to get more into this whole "World Wide Web logging" thing -- she says that "web logs" will one day replace more traditional forms of publishing, including theological journals! -- so I have put aside some time today to briefly address an issue of great concern among academic theologians that needs to be shared with those out in the field working to spread the gospel: evangelistic inefficiency.
In his 1996 book The Gospel and Its Meaning: A Theology for Evangelism and Church Growth, Dr. Harry Lee Poe, the Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, sought an integrative evangelism that is concinnate with temporal/cultural setting while avoiding the syncretism of a relativistic or pluralistic eisegesis that would undermine the gospel.
To frame the need for a new evangelistic approach, Dr. Poe explained in his preface the problem he saw in the Church in the last century -- one which is still prevalent today:
Christians have a tendency to proclaim the gospel from the perspective of their own spiritual issues rather than to the perspective of their audience. Furthermore, Christians tend to speak of the gospel in terms of the aspect of the gospel that means the most to them, rather than in terms of the aspect of the gospel that might offer the most good news to another person. This habit creates the oft observed situation in which the church answers questions people are not asking.
What Dr. Poe recognized as the solution to this problem has become informally known in theological circles as Poe's Law, which states that: elements of the gospel speak to different levels of spiritual concern in different cultures at different times. For example, at certain times and in certain places, the Passion of the Christ speaks most meaningfully to people; whereas, at other times and places, it is the Resurrection that most effectively addresses people's spiritual needs. Knowing which aspect best speaks to the times and locality can mean the difference between mere metamelomai and true metanoic rebirth.
Thus, Poe's Law informs us that we must be mindful of the sociocultural context in which the good news is delivered. Through this mindfulness, a properly balanced gospel emphasis can be created -- or, to use the jargon, the most soteric kerygma modality can be employed -- so as to maximize spiritual resonance within the souls of the audience. As always, the Lord has foreseen this need and has given us a gospel rich with kerygmatic potential: there's a part of the gospel that will open the heart of anyone, and it's the bailiwick of the modern pastor or missiological technician to find it.
In the guidance that I have given to OBJECTIVE: Ministries and the various outreach organizations that operate under the Fellowship aegis, I have always kept Poe's Law in mind. We must listen to the concerns of the unsaved so that we may find in them the key to winning them over to Christ through effective use of the gospel. In particular, Mrs. Tullar's Mall Mission and Pastor Hoskins' Youth Rock Ministry have both benefited from Dr. Poe's crucial insight and have found many ways to incorporate a gospel targeted to their varied audiences.
In our increasingly fragmented and globalized twenty-first century society, it is vital we develop evangelical forms that can be adapted to varied spiritual needs while not undermining the soteriological foundation of the gospel. I would urge missionaries of all levels to study Dr. Poe's work in this field and remember to remember your audience.
There seems to be some confusion on the Internet, which I will endeavor to now clear up, about the point of our Baby Jesus page and exactly what role the Baby Jesus plays in the Trinity.
Firstly, what is the nature of the Baby Jesus? Put simply: The Baby Jesus is a temporal prosopon of the Logos hypostatic branch of the Trinity and is the conduit through which the circuit of Agape is grounded in Humanity. Like all the hypostases, the Baby Jesus is a fully integrated, homoousian manifestation of the Trinity, having two natures, both Infantile and Divine -- Baby and God.
Whereas the supra-adult Risen Christ provides us with Love and Care, it is through the Baby Jesus that we are able to return some small amount of the same, as His innocence elicits our purest emotions. Although Earthly Human love is relatively miniscule and thus cannot fully, or even substantially, repay His Love, God knows that without providing us this spiritual release valve, Humans experiencing even a small part of the Infinite Love contained within the Trinity would be so overwhelmed by guilt at being so infinitely unworthy as to be incapacitated, both physically and metaphysically.
The Baby Jesus transmogrifies the unfathomable vastness of Agape into something a Human can hold in his or her arms and care for. He is, if you will, a friendly user interface to the Holy Ghost. We see then that God had a Purpose for manifesting Himself on Earth natally instead of simply appearing in a fully adult form: The very existence of the Baby Jesus Himself is an act of Love and Caring, for by our being able to love and care for the Baby Jesus, we are able to safely share in God's Love and Care, thus completing the circle.
It is for this reason that we implore visitors to our site to not forsake the Baby Jesus. For without His Cooing Grace to Humanize the Awesome Infinitude of God's Love, those on the verge of accepting Jesus into their hearts may become confused and disoriented -- experiencing a sort of Agapic vertigo -- and fall prey to the many Internet predators working for Satan who seek to lead them astray. Many a potential Saved person has been lost for lack of proper focus on the Baby Jesus.
Please, don't let this happen; help get the word out that the Baby Jesus just wants to be loved. Is that so much to ask for Salvation?
I dropped by our main auditorium yesterday while taking a much-needed respite from some vexing research into the history of Baptist succession, vis-à-vis Waldensian protoanabaptism, to investigate Pastor Fred Hoskins' Cinco de Mayo party, which had attracted quite a few curious people from the local Catholic community seeking to learn more about Jesus. Besides wanting to sate my hunger with some corn chips and avocado dip, I was also curious to hear what sort of music Fred had lined up; I find his ministry most intriguing in the way he repurposes popular forms to spread the Gospel to the youth. When I came in, he was performing a hip-hop song, or rap, with Mr. M.C. Eschatology of the rapping group Jiggy4Jesus. ("Jiggy" is an urban-youth term meaning "to be in touch with what's happening" -- apparently, it's been lately added to the OED; I shall have to see that the Mt. Fellowship library gets new volumes!) While I have heard some rapping before, I had never given much thought to its value in correcting the spread of erroneous doctrines in today's generation. However, after hearing the song that Fred and M.C. performed, I have had my eyes opened to the pedagogical possibilities of this modern form of syncopated doxology.
In what can only be a sign from the Lord of the importance of my inchoate research, the song they performed was called "Baby Got Baptism" and was about the very same erroneous doctrine of paedobaptism (or "infant baptism") that many of the Waldenses themselves endeavored to correct -- and which, sadly, is still promulged throughout most of the world. Fred was kind enough to give to me a CD with the song that included printed lyrics -- co-written by him and Mr. Eschatology, a few verses of which I'll reproduce here (do not be put off by the unusual spelling; it is part of the hip-hop vernacular):
She got baptized but she don't know why
All she can do is coo an' cry
'Cause when a girl gets elected inna bitta haste
An' don't know His Saving Grace
She gets sprinkled
Inna shallow font
No full immersion, just a front
She's not Jesus acceptin'
Ain't nuttin' but a baby wettin'
No, gotta axe Him be your Save-ya
Your Faith professa'
Tha Bible tried to warn yall
Nevermind your Pope, who's all
"Me so holy!"
Well, forget ol' St. Austin
Council of Mela don't mean nothin'
Mark sixteen, sixteen... belief before ya get tha sheen
Ya gotta know Him
To get tha ball rollin'
Ya met, wet, then born again with no regret
I'm tired of heresies
Saying baptism's all you need
Salvation is by Grace through Faith, ya know
But baby knows zero, so
Mothers (praise!), fathers (praise!)
"Suffer them to come to Me" (hallelujah!)
But sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle don't do a thang
Baby got baptism
An excellent argument against the error of paedobaptism. I think I shall play it on Sunday during my sermon so the congregation can become jiggy to urban youth hermeneutics.
First off, I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Blessed New Year. May the coming months prove spiritually profitable and bring you closer to the Lord.
Mr. Sobola, Head of Protocol for the Mission of Hope Ministries, has provided me with additional information about his organization. It was founded by Pastor Ebenezer Alabi after an encounter with the Lord in December, 2002, Who called on the pastor to bring knowledge of Christ to those as yet unreached and to rectify the improper teachings and general theological confusion in Africa. Pastor Alabi recounts in his Mission Vision for the Western Region an experience he had that underscores the shocking extent of erroneous -- even Satanic -- doctrine in Ghana today:
On my visit to Western Region on 1st of September 2003, I met a Christian brother in a car, and after explaining my missionary plan for the Western Region to him, he was so excited and we became friends. he just finished his National Service in one of the JSS School under JOMORO district. He said, "Pastor, God bless you for this vision you have for this Western Region, I believe the voice of the innocent people who had died as a result of witchcraft attacks in the district I served had reached unto God, and it has pleased Him to save the region through proper propagation of the Good News."
According to him, "I have not seen somebody with the witchcraft spirit and so much proud of it until I came to this Town, many of the students we teach, both male and female, will be happy to tell you that they inherited it from their parents or grandparents when you ask them about it. It is not meant to kill or destroy, it is for protection and blessing. The only time we use it to kill is when someone steals, takes our wives and wrongs us," says the student interviewed.
According to my friend, he said one of their friend, who is also a teacher doing his National Service there one day beat a lady in his class with strokes of cain for wrong doing. The student was so much furious with the teacher and after that gathered the pieces of the broken cain he used to beat her and vowed to harm him. The teacher overlooked it because they haven't seen much of the witchcraft activities over there then. It was a few weeks after their arrival in that town. Three days after, the teacher's face started swollen before they realized what is happening, he died.
"Pastors, there are three similar cases which claimed the lives of our other colleagues in that town. We then decided to meet the head Master so that he can write the NATIONAL COMMISION SERVICE in other to redeploy us, but what he told us is still a big shock to me till date. He said: 'My children, do not be afraid, you don't need to leave this school, I also have a witchcraft spirit, I am a wizard, I will use my own to protect you all and no one will die again.'"
He further said "The funniest thing is that, these people go to church every Sunday, and they will tell you that they are Christians when you ask them of their religion. But one thing I noticed is that, even though there one or two churches there which they attend, THE GOSPEL IS NOT WELL PREACHED THERE. Most of the leaders of the churches are also members of one society or the another. I thank God that you are sending Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ there, I will follow you to evangelize the district."
Such widespread practice of witchcraft by Church members and public officials really puts America's Harry Potter problems in perspective. Although we still have much work to do, how fortunate we are to live in a more Godly nation! I pray that Mission Of Hope Ministries -- with our spiritual guidance and material assistance -- can raise the levels of Christianity in Ghana and greater Africa to at least our standards.
One more thing, and I hope Dick won't mind my mentioning it here. My colleague Dr. Richard Paley has been trying to mount another expedition into Africa to further his Creation Science research into the extant nature of various antediluvian life-forms, which are currently known to Science only through remains preserved in the Great Flood. Last year, he was in negotiations with a lawyer from Nigeria to search for living pterosaur in Gashaka-Gumti National Park, but that project fell through over funding issues.
As God's Grace would have it, upon hearing that I was corresponding with someone from Ghana, Dr. Paley remembered reading reports of pterosauroidal creatures in the region -- particularly a creature from local Ashanti folklore known as the sasabonsam. He asked me to forward a request to Mr. Sobola for assistance in procuring permits, personnel, and provisions (the "Three Ps" of the Creation Science field researcher, as Dick puts it,) in the area of Ghana, which both Mr. Sobola and Pastor Alabi have most graciously and enthusiastically agreed to provide.
Perhaps our relationship with the Mission of Hope Ministries will be mutually beneficial: We shall provide them with the means to stamp out the heresy of witchcraft that is plaguing their lands, and they shall provide us with the means to rid ourselves of the myth of Evolutionism that is keeping so many in our nation from accepting Christ into their hearts.
As you may or may not know, Mt. Fellowship Baptist Church and our allied Fellowship educational, charity, and research institutions, including the OBJECTIVE: website, are involved in many missions that serve the spiritual and temporal needs of people, not only in our own community, but around the world. So it was no great surprise when I was contacted yesterday by Mr. Adebayo Sobola Jr., Head of Protocol for the Mission of Hope Ministries in Takoradi, Ghana, who had heard of our missiological work (perhaps through Dr. Paley's work in the Congo,) and sought our assistance. A reproduction of his correspondence follows (please forgive his uneven grasp of English; he is, after all, from Ghana):
Greetings to you, Dr. Andrew Miller
I signed into this stignificant letter with reference of my usually spirit of thanksgiving to the Holy Almighty God of Trinity.
Actually, we choosed to firstly express and communicate with you by the internet, So that you may specifically understand our position in this predicament. It deeply and wonderously cost us a great pleasure in the glory of God here in Ghana to send you this few passages of e-mail out there. Moreover, We undoubtly hope that this e-mail would meet you in the grace and perfect glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. We Therefore wholehearted pray for a favourable response and devine settlement of the contents with understanding into your heart.
Initially, I am Adebayo Sobola Jnr. The Head Of Protocol, e-mailing to you on behalf of the Foundation Member of the young and newly registered Ministry of God at Takoradi-Western Region of Republic of Ghana Named MISSION OF HOPE MINISTRIES.
Actually, before i continually expose our intentions, I d precisely express a saying of Big Well Done to you all as a Ministry, Particularly, in your special initiatives on your Ministerial works, such as Promoting the kingdom of God, Hunting and delivering souls for Christ, so as to Depopulate the Hell. Those precious impacted efforts of yours in Christ has highly wide spread even unto the coasts of Africa here greatly.
In fact, Brethens, We beseech you all with a great scores of credits, We were deeply marvelled especially to the works of people like you that has incredible spirits and attitudes of excellence toward the project of God. May unusual blessings of God never depart from you for ever in the unbeatable name of Jesus. Amen
Allow me to make use of this media to share another vital point to accompany with reasons why we are facilitating this e-mail corresponding to your precious views was the Major fact that our newly founded Ministry of God Named Mission Of Hope Ministries in Takoradi, Ghana. As menthioned ealier was highly in need of a Stable Pillar of Support and Solid Fortress from the reference of your Ministry on the effective area of Financial,Spiritual Counsel and Material Provisions.
Lastly, The vision of which guarranttee a properious relationship us is actually being loooking forward unto from you right from this encounter of e-mail, We expect to also recive your Biographies or Status in person of each to enlist them on your on our Foundation Donation Members Record, on your interest. Aswell, your favourable reply has so great to do in couple with all, Because it would certainly bolster our spirit with fresh hope and strong encouragement on the project. Thanks, May God richly bless you in all your endeavours. Amen
Adebayo Sobola Jnr.
Head Of Protocol,
Mission Of Hope Ministries.
I have replied to Mr. Sobola on behalf of the Fellowship consortium and offered him whatever assistance his Ministries need, particularly with matters of spiritual counsel, about which he was wise to ask. The spread of false doctrines in Africa -- not only mere erroneous doctrines such as triclavianism and paedobaptism, but more nefarious errancies such as witchcraft and fetishism -- is an exigent situation. Hopefully, working in concert with the Mission Of Hope Ministries, I can offer Ghana -- and eventually all of Africa -- the spiritual guidance she needs to rid herself of the sort of theological ignorance that will lead her people to an alienation from Christ.
I encourage all those who also wish to help the Mission Of Hope Ministries in their efforts in Ghana to contact Mr. Sobola via e-mail at: mission_of_hope_ministries2004 at yahoo dot com (address altered due to spammers.)
Since unveiling our Anti-Triclavianist logo, a number of helpful readers have written in to inform me that it is incorrect because the crossing bar is leaning towards the right, whereas it is traditional in prohibitory sign ideography for the bar to lean leftwards. However, this is a misunderstanding of the meaning of the logo born out of a lack of ideographic literacy all too common nowadays.
Unlike the left-leaning (or "sinister") bar, the right-leaning (or "dexter") bar does not denote prohibition of the subject -- obviously, we cannot have, nor would we have chosen to have, prohibited our Lord's salvific act of sacrifice or the implements thereof. Rather, dexter bars ideographically denote the unnecessity of the subject ideograph -- a manumission, if you will, from what is depicted in the circle. To use a more mundane example: a prohibitory sign (i.e. one with a sinister bar) encompassing a "P" is typically understood to mean "no parking." The same sign differing only in having a dexter bar would then mean "parking is not necessary." (Those familiar with the Mt. Fellowship Baptist Church campus will recognize these signs from our convenient drive-through tithe kiosks.)
The Anti-Triclavianist logo therefore means that we are not against the idea that three nails were used per se, rather we are against making such a position one of necessary doctrine. In other words, we are against the Triclavianists. Also of note is that we placed the bar behind the triclav. This, in ideographic conventions, denotes a raising, or emphasizing, of the subject. Thus, it is not the nails that are being said to be unnecessary -- on the contrary, they were very necessary for the wages of Man's sins to be paid; rather, it is the Triclavianists' position of backing the importance of three nails that is unnecessary.
I hope that this clears up any misunderstanding about our logo.
I am delighted to see that my previous entry has brought much needed attention to the issue of triclavianism in today's Church. A successful start to my new "Pastor's Corner!" I would like to revisit this topic, both to answer some critics and to introduce a new campaign aimed at curbing triclavianism.
Some have criticized my stance on triclavianism as being counterproductive, arguing that making a point of doctrinal contention over not making a point of doctrinal contention over adiaphora is itself non-salvific. However, my critics are overlooking the dangers of triclavianistic doctrines: allowing adiaphora to creep into our credenda -- while possibly pushing the theologoumenic envelope and providing exciting new opportunities for supererogative works -- will most often serve to muddy the soteriological foundation of Faith, leading in general to ultramontane excesses and, in extreme cases, ebaptization (which is unacceptable pastoral malpractice, however rare it may be.) Doctrinal integrity, and hence salvific effectiveness, is best served by working to end triclavianism and similar erroneous, or simply adiaphoric, doctrines.
To that end, we at OBJECTIVE: Ministries have created an Anti-Triclavianist logo for use in bringing awareness of both triclavianism and why it is an erroneous doctrine to those Christians belonging to error-prone churches. Currently, the logo is available as the web-emblem above, on a t-shirt, and as a wallpaper for use on your church's computers. We are asking you, our readers, to help educate the ignorant and do your part to keep the Lord's Word free of erroneous additions and His offer of Salvation free of unnecessary conditions.
There have been some questions as of late on why we moved our web-site. As stated, it was due to our previous host's lack of strong condemnation of triclavianism. I would like to clarify this situation as I think it illustrates an overlooked heresy in today's Church.
Triclavianists hold that three, and only three, nails were used to affix our Lord Jesus Christ to the cross. While it might be true that three nails were used -- and, in fact, archeological evidences uncovered by Biblical researchers positively point to this conclusion -- it is erroneous, and theologically dangerous, to make this a doctrinal position. The Bible does not enumerate the Lord's nails and any extra-Biblical research on the subject -- while both interesting and useful for apologetic purposes when dealing with those afflicted with a Secular world view that denies even the historicity of our Lord's passion and crucifixion -- cannot be considered of any substantive import to the Faith.
The Bible is the infallible and inerrant word of God; everything that He wanted us to know about Faith can be found in its pages. If He remains silent on the issue of the number of nails used in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, then it is not for us to presume to make it a point of contention. Those that do are like the Pharisees, hypocritical in their righteousness based on their own worldly learning, and they will lead people astray and away from the True teachings of God. Therefore, we must oppose their strident and irrelevant teachings on the triune nature of the implements of our Lord's impalement.
The heresy in triclavianism is not the belief in the use of only three nails, per se. Rather, it is the insistence that fallible, non-Biblical sources of information should be used as a guide to important matters of Faith. Triclavianism is merely a pernicious symptom of a greater illness inflicting today's Christians: the allowing of Secularists to subvert the authority of Christ's teachings, thereby replacing Faith with skepticism and knowledge with ignorance. Those who do not oppose this illness strongly enough, although their motives may be pure, are only helping to spread it.