Author Archives: highplainsparson

About highplainsparson

I'm a servant of the word of God, serving the Lord in Colorado. The husband of one and father of four, I count my blessings daily. I wish to build up Christ's flock in love to him and holiness. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Critical Theory and the Unity of the Church

This seems helpful.

TheEcclesialCalvinist

The undersigned concerned individuals are constrained, indeed compelled, to speak to ideological dangers that threaten and subvert the unity of the Body of Christ.

Some in the conservative Reformed community evince a laudable desire to overcome racial injustice, but they often seek to understand racial divisions by relying on categories drawn from the “critical theory” of secular academia (e.g., notions of “white privilege,” “white guilt,” “intersectionality,” and more broadly the power-analysis tradition that stems from Marx, Foucault, and others) rather than from Scripture and the Christian tradition.  As a result of this uncritical borrowing, some in the church are falling headlong into the divisive identity politics that now plague the broader culture and particularly higher education.

These secular categories are often unhelpful.  For example, what are often taken to be examples of “white privilege” are simply the rights and opportunities that should be enjoyed by all, and the appropriate response…

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Problems with the Nashville Statement

The Nashville Statement is troublingly ambiguous on the sinfulness of same sex attraction:

“Article 8. WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.”

Is this Christian’s purity of life attained by repenting and mortifying the sinful “sexual attraction for the same sex”, or are these desires somehow compatible with such purity? It seems they mean the latter, which is unbiblical, and a heretical denial of the sinfulness of sinful lusts.  The authors of the statement had no trouble being crystal clear on the sinfulness of many sins.  Why the lack of clarity here, on one of the most confronting issues of our time?  I take it as a denial that same sex erotic attraction is sinful, which is a huge mistake because:

1. It seems to deny that some sins are more heinous than others.  

One area where Christians need to be taught better, is the degree of heinousness of sins.

Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 150. Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God?
All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

All sins are heinous, but some are more heinous than others due to several aggravating factors. One of the aggravating factors that the Larger Catechism lists in Answer 151 is that a sin is more heinous if it be against the “light of nature.” For this reason, in this respect, same sex attraction is more heinous even than lust for the opposite sex, which is not, essentially, against nature. Same sex attraction is not the moral equivalent of opposite sex attraction, which God gave us for the purpose of procreation.  The recent confusion among the Reformed and Evangelicals over the sinfulness of same sex attraction shows this deficiency.
2. It denies the Christian doctrine of original sin. 

The statement that a Christian can live a pure life despite experiencing erotic desires toward persons of the same sex, suggests that such proneness and proclivity to enter into temptation are not sin unless they are acted upon.  But this flies in the face of Scripture and the traditional Augustinian teaching on original sin.  “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:14 Temptation arises from our sinful nature, which is itself sin, and calls down God’s wrath upon us. By grace, those whom God has regenerated, get the victory eventually over their indwelling sin, by mortifying it daily. This teaching is sorely lacking in the church today. It is being said that our sinful nature, and the temptations that arise from it, are not sin, as if to raise up Pelagius from the grave.  If the Church ceases to maintain the historic, orthodox, definition of Original Sin, she will fall utterly.

I am concerned that the Nashville Statement adds to the confusion and false teaching on sin rampant in the Church today.

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A French Huguenot minister in New York

A little family history. Here’s a letter written by a Dutch reformed minister in New York to the Classis of Amsterdam on September 30, 1696. His name is Domine Selyns. In the letter he mentions the French reformed minister who serves where my ancestors the Sicard family [bearing my paternal grandma’s maiden name] were settled in New Rochelle, New York. His name was Reverend (or Domine to use the Dutch title) Bondet, A Huguenot minister from France and a former professor at the famed Academy of Saumur. This was the pastor of some of our ancestors in of New York who had escaped France eight years before.  

Selyns writes, “Domine Brodet [Bondet], who was formerly professor at Saumur, and who lived among the Indians and preached to them for eight years, is at New Rochelle, 20 miles from here, and is very useful by his ministerial gifts and holy life.”

A History of the Reformed Church, Dutch in the United States by ET Corwin, 115.

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Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly speaks out against the secularization of public schools–affirms Christian America

prayer-at-first-continental-congress

Faced with the growing secularization of public schools in America, the PC(USA) defined the position of American Presbyterianism in the following pronouncement by her General Assembly in the year 1870:

“We should regard the successful attempt to expel all religious instruction and influence from our public schools as an evil of the first magnitude. Nor do we see how this can be done without inflicting a deadly wound upon the intellectual and moral life of the nation…We look upon the state as an ordinance of God, and not a mere creature of the popular will; and, under its high responsibility to the Supreme Ruler of the world, we hold it to be both its right and bound duty to educate its children in those elementary principles of knowledge and virtue which are essential to its own security and well-being. The union of church and state is indeed against our American theory and constitutions of government; but the most intimate union of the state with the saving and conservative forces of Christianity is one of the oldest customs of the country, and has always ranked a vital article of our political faith.”

General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) 1870, quoted in A History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States by Robert E. Thompson, 1895, p. 199.

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Presbyterians Pressured by President Lincoln

Illustration of the Bombardment of Fort SumterWhen the Confederate Army cannonaded Ft. Sumter on April 12, 1861, opening the Civil War, it turned out to be a moment that crystallized the patriotic feelings of many Americans in defense of the Union. Sumter awoke a sleeping giant. It was on of those “rally around the flag” moments that the South had probably not expected it to be, when people across the Union who were previously apathetic or ambivalent about the political disputes between North and South felt a rush of anger over what the South had done, and a desire to preserve the Union. Reading about this turn of events reminds me of the patriotic response many Americans exhibited during the First Gulf War, when Lee Greenwood soared to the top of the charts with his perennial favorite, “God Bless the USA”, and later, the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 when Union flags seemed to fly on every car antenna in a surge of patriotic feeling.

Just one month after Sumter, in May 1861, Rev. Gardiner Spring introduced a resolution at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U. S. A. calling for a day of prayer and fasting, in light of the national trouble and warfare that had already broken out with the siege of Ft. Sumter and the secession of 8 states. He was an influential and respected conservative in the denomination, hand-picked to present the resolution by the pro-Union side. It made one small mention of prayer for the preservation of the Union, without including any denunciations of the Southern States that some had wanted to see in it. What many may not know, is that the Lincoln administration was pressuring the Presbyterian Church to pass a resolution supporting the Union. The Presbyterian Church was at that time one of the three largest church bodies in the Union, and the Lincoln administration, perhaps rightly, thought that the declared support of the Presbyterian Church toward the Union would help secure the loyalty of the Border States: New Jersey, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri toward the federal cause. The vote went 156-66 in favor of the resolution*. A contingent protested the resolution led by Charles Hodge, but to no avail. Moderate-mindedness could not quell the spirit of patriotism or the desire to help preserve the Union.220px-abraham_lincoln_o-77_matte_collodion_print

In response, the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States was promptly formed of the forty-seven presbyteries in the South. A schism of the Northern and Southern Presbyterian Churches took place, which did not reunite for over one hundred twenty years. While it was sad that political concerns split the church, it was also a continuation of the Presbyterian tradition of a mutually helpful relationship between the church and the civil government.

*See: A History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States by Robert Thompson, New York: 1895.

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Presbyterianism in America

The group of ecclesiastical bodies which co(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundationnstitute the Presbyterian family in America hold a place of great importance in the religious life of the nation.  American Presbyterianism has been of weight beyond its numerical strength through the services it has rendered to theological science, the interest it has maintained in Christian doctrine, the high standard of intelligence it has set up for both its ministry and its people, its capacity to develop strength of character, its superior family discipline, and its conservative influence upon the national life.

Robert Ellis Thompson, A History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States, 1.

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Please forgive my indifference…

A voice of reason.

Wife with Purpose

I’m trying, but you’re making it hard.

There were a number of ways I could have written this blog, but I figured I would write it as genuinely and honestly as I could. So here it goes.

I’m having a hard time with you, and I am referring to the Reformed (or Reforming) African-American crowd (you know, some of the people who like to write for RAAN or the women who host Truth’s Table). I’m really having a hard time. And no, I’m not white. I’m actually an African-American woman who is a Baptist in a conservative PCA church in the South. And though I can consider you to be my “brothers and sisters by color”, I really struggle to not roll my eyes when I hear you speak and read your blogs.

And I know that may sound strange. I mean, I might sound like one of those…

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The Cultural Mandate, Not the Benedict Option

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but the secularists’ are. I like this approach, “The best way to keep satanic secularism off the sacred turf of the church and family is to contest the so-called secular turf of modern culture” It reminds me of the war on terrorism. We fought them in Iraq so that we didn’t have to fight them here.

P. Andrew Sandlin

ben-op-cover-black-hill

Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (an excerpt of which appeared in Christianity Today),[1] has launched the latest Facebook-Twitter-blog-web battle among culturally oriented Christians. The Benedict Option (Dreher abbreviates it: Ben Op) is a “strategic withdrawal” according to which many conservative Christians, aggressive culture warriors since the 70s, now retreat into tight-knit communities to bolster their faith during our time of nearly unprecedented cultural hostility. Dreher argues that this culture is presently so influential and pervasive in its anti-Christianity that to refuse to withdraw from it relegates our children and grandchildren to “assimilation.” Our cultural foes are so vast and influential, that we just can’t expect to hold out against them. We’ve lost the culture wars, and we’d better adopt and act on a strategy to spend our earthly sojourn as the cultural losers we’ve become.

It’s not a new proposal…

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Has the PCA Caved to Cultural Marxism?

Has the PCA caved to Cultural Marxism?
I have permission from the author to post this anonymously, so for my FB friends’ edification:
In answer to the question, has the PCA caved to Cultural Marxism as far as the Black Lives Matters Movment?
“No but there are those that confuse breaking down barriers that exist with embracing and/or tolerating some really bad theology.
I’ve noticed something about so-called “paternalistic” or “intolerant” conservatives that I haven’t noticed about those whose Gospel lens is focused only in the “racial reconciliation” direction.
I read about all these conservative types (the bane of progress and reconciliation) who are traveling to foreign countries to help train ministers or encourage the Saints in dangerous lands. Dr. Aquila teaches in Egypt and other parts of Africa as well as in South America. Dr. Pipa recently returned from Turkey. Dr. Beeke goes all over the world at other’s invitation.
Maybe I’m missing it but I don’t see Christians in other far-flung places of the world inviting Michelle Higgins to come talk to them about racial reconciliation. It seems to be a distinctively elite American phenomena that the rest of the persecuted and far-flung Church cares little to nothing about. Viewed globally, I think the effort is a bit provincial.
I know there are well-meaning men and women who care about this issue but I think that many are getting caught up in micro-aggression theories and making the pattern for reconciliation so complicated that you need to constantly study specific theories of culture or constantly worry every time a new culture enters in that you haven’t done something to “micro-aggress” them by failing to recognize that you’re the dominant culture.
When you’re actually in another culture, you don’t even think about the idea that people are being “micro-aggressive” toward you or are trying to force you into their mold. You recognize and appreciate the cultural expressions and are thankful for the manners they show kindness to you even if it’s not the way you would demonstrate kindness. You recognize things that might seem rude to us as not necessarily rude.
In America, with all this race theory and micro-aggressions, we’ve turned cultural norms into pathologies and made basically decent people into monsters because they (unaware of their own culture) are trying to be nice but are told they are being racist or micro-aggressive. Should we take care to get to know people and not assume they are altogether like us? Of course we should but there is far more going on here. There’s sort of the idea that the culture itself is a form of oppression. “White Privilege” pervades and is a form of “sin” that favors some and disfavors others. If we were in Japan then we might be subject to “Japanese privilege” and the fact that we don’t slurp our soup would disadvantage us in society and we would not see that as a cultural difference but as a pervasive sin that all Japanese people do certain things a certain way or think or talk or act a certain way and don’t think anything of the fact that people that can’t navigate the culture will not be able to be in positions of influence.
Within the Church, then, I see a growing move toward an orthodoxy of “white privilege” that we must accept. Ironically, from the very ministers that generally eschew our Confession as a standard exegesis of the Scriptures and a willingness to be squishy on things like paedocommunion or the RPW or the Sabbath in order to have a big tent, the issue of “white privilege” seems to be fast becoming a given. It’s not exegetically derived but simply assumed to be the case and calls for social justice as part of the Gospel have become non-negotiables in many quarters. There’s sort of a gnostic “…you just can’t know…” idea that casts doubt on the ability of a white man to communicate the Word of God to a “person of color” unless he also acknowledges white privilege and is engaged in socio-economic and political change as well.
But, as I said, some of the ideas that stodgy White dudes who aren’t into social justice can’t communicate past their race group are belied by the fact that it’s these same stodgy guys who are being requested by far flung parts of the world while the “enlightened” seem provincial. That’s my observation at least. If I hadn’t lived overseas and actually served with other cultures then I might buy into some of this and doubt my ability to communicate the real message of reconciliation but I just can’t buy into this stuff that they’re peddling and wonder if the PCA will wake up to the fact that they’re reproducing the trajectory of Walter Rauschenbusch. We seem to think that theological liberalism came from bad intentions but, because ours are good, we’ll escape the fate of everyone who came before us.”
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British National Anthem

Today the government of the United Kingdom triggered Brexit, its exit from the European Union. In honor of this development, allow me to post the second verse of the British national anthem:

2. O Lord our God arise, 

Scatter her enemies 

And make them fall; 

Confound their politics, 

Frustrate their popish tricks, 

On Thee our hopes we fix, 

God save us all! 

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