Friday, 14 September 2018

Christianity: Religion or relationship?

How is genuine Christianity best described; as a religion or a relationship? The phrase 'it's not a religion, it's a relationship' is very popular today; often used as a response to the dead religious formalism that is found in many churches, instead placing an emphasis on the personal nature of saving faith in Jesus Christ. Christianity is not simply a matter of religious observance and participation in certain sacraments, but rather it is a living faith which extends beyond these outward acts and affects every aspect of our lives. It can therefore rightly be described as a relationship. Yet on occasions the rejection of the term 'religion' in favour of 'relationship' is used in ways which are not in keeping with God's Word. Is the description of our faith as a religion to be rejected? How also might the term relationship be abused when describing our faith? 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Healing the Land: Ecumenical, not Evangelical

The level of spiritual illiteracy and ecumenism in Northern Ireland was displayed clearly last month during the Pope's visit to the Republic of Ireland, with it being welcomed across the broad spectrum of Protestantism, including the Presbyterian Moderator and the Evangelical Alliance. That same ecumenical spirit and lack of discernment will be evidenced once again this Saturday at Nutts Corner near Antrim, at a day of prayer organised by Healing the Land. There is no doubt that our land needs prayer, and believers ought to be burdened to pray for a moving of God's Spirit in revival power, however the event organised at Nutts Corner is patently ecumenical, and will deceive many genuine believers who desire to see God work once again, due to the use of evangelical sounding terminology. It is for this reason that we draw attention to it, for it is easy to be misled by that which sounds spiritual, yet has at its heart compromise and apostasy.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Why the evangelical church is losing the battle on homosexuality

The speed at which homosexuality has been publicly accepted and endorsed by society is remarkable; in the generation since homosexual activity has been legalised it has moved from a position of ridicule and contempt, to one of acceptance, and ultimately on to a position of high esteem. The media is replete with LGBT related news items, homosexual storylines pervade most television programmes, and pride parades throughout the country are attended by tens of thousands of people, with children and infants bedecked in the colours of the pride flag. What is evident in all of this is that the evangelical church is losing the battle on the issue of homosexuality. The apostate denominations have long given up the battle and, in many cases, have become active promoters of the homosexual lifestyle. Yet conservative denominations and churches, which continue to oppose homosexuality, and denounce it as sin, are failing to impact society on this matter. I believe that the reason for this is that our response to homosexuality has been lacking in numerous areas. 

Friday, 24 August 2018

Why I have returned to blogging

Almost three years have elapsed since my last blog post in November 2015; what then has prompted me to return to blogging? The reason that my blog ceased was in essence threefold; a lack of issues which I was particularly inspired to write about, a personal dissatisfaction with the quality of what I was writing, and a lack of available time to contribute to the blog. It is not that there was an absence of issues within Christianity and evangelicalism which needed addressed (indeed it has been stated by some that the church today is in a worse state than it was prior to the reformation), but rather that my motivation to write was not there, and I had written on many of the things that were on my mind. However, as is the case in the history of the church, the same issues raise their head again and again, and the church is presented with new challenges and questions. Once again I have a desire to comment on some of these issues, hopefully making some small contribution to biblical clarity on the matters which the Christian church faces today.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Minimum Christian

The following article was published by Rev C.H. Spurgeonin the Sword & Trowel in 1876 

The minimum Christian! And who is he? The Christian who is going to heaven at the cheapest rate possible. The Christian who intends to get all of the world he can, and not meet the worlding's doom. The Christian who aims to have as little religion as he may without lacking it altogether.

The minimum Christian goes to worship in the morning; and in the evening also, unless it rains, or is too warm, or cold, or he is sleepy, or has the headache from eating too much at dinner. He listens most respectfully to the preacher, and joins in prayer and praise. He applies the truth very judiciously, sometimes to himself, oftener to his neighbours.

The minimum Christian is very friendly to all good works. He wishes them well, but it is not in his power to do much for them. The Sunday School he looks upon as an admirable institution, especially for the neglected and ignorant. It is not convenient however, for him to take a class: his business engagements are so pressing during the week that he needs the Sabbath as a day of rest; nor does he think himself qualified to act as a teacher. There are so many persons better prepared for this important duty, that he must beg to be excused. He is very friendly to home and foreign missions, and colportage, and gives his mite, but he is quite unable to aid in the management, for his own concerns are so excessively important. He thinks there are 'too many appeals'; but he gives, if not enough to save his reputation, pretty near it, at all events he aims at it, and never overshoots the mark.

The minimum Christian is not clear on a number of points. The opera and dancing, the theatre and card playing and large, fashionable parties give him much trouble. He cannot see the harm in this, or that, or the other popular amusement. There is nothing in the bible against it. He cannot see why a Christian may not dance or go to the opera. He knows several excellent persons who do so; at least, so he says. Why should not he? He stands so close to the dividing line between the people of God and the people of the world, that it is hard to say on which side of it he is actually to be found.

Ah, my brother, are you making this attempt? Beware, lest you find at last that in trying to get to Heaven with a little religion, you miss it altogether; lest without gaining the whole world, you lose your own soul. True godliness demands self denial and cross-bearing, and if you have none of these you are making a false profession.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Christian, Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical: The Need for Labels

For approximately two millennia the followers of Jesus Christ have been known as Christians. Acts 11:26 tell us that 'the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch', the name being given to them as a result of their adherence to the teachings of Christ. Since that time other names have been given to various grouping within the broad spectrum of Christianity. The east/west schism of 1054 divided the Christian church into its Roman and Orthodox branches, both describing themselves as Christian but using more specific terms to distinguish themselves one from another. At the Diet of Speyer in 1529 the term Protestant was attributed to princes and rulers who protested against the decisions of the Diet, and since that time those who have opposed the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church have generally been known as Protestant. As the centuries have advanced further labels have been added to the various branches of Christian belief; reformed, evangelical, Calvinist, Baptist, Presbyterian and more, highlighting the particular theological viewpoint or denominational affiliation of those concerned, and distinguishing them from other Christians. There are some today who would reject such labels; they do not like the term Protestant, but prefer simply to be known as a Christian. Is this a reasonable view to take, and should believers reject the supposedly divisive denominational and theological labels which set them apart from others who likewise identify as Christian?

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Sunday evening service and why you should attend it

In most churches today it is the case that the Sunday evening service is more sparsely attended than the morning service. In some congregations the difference is minimal, yet in others it is significant; a church which is more than three quarters full in the morning may be less than half full in the evening. Although there can be prevailing circumstances in the lives of some church members which genuinely prohibit them from attending the evening service, with others their absence is harder to explain. There are those who have been associated with the church for decades, have professed the name of Christ, yet have rarely if ever been seen at their local church in the evening. In dealing with this matter we are not taking issue with those who have genuine reasons why they cannot frequently attend the house of God twice on a Sunday. For parents with young children it is understandable that there are occasions where both parents cannot be out twice on a Sunday. Amongst the elderly of the congregation there will be those who through age and infirmity are simply unable to attend two services in the one day. Where church members are employed in the emergency services it is accepted that as a result of their shift patterns, there will be occasions where they cannot attend as many services as they would desire. These are justifiable reasons for why some people may miss church services and we would not seek to condemn them. Our concern is with those who are regularly, and sometimes always, absent from their local church on a Sunday evening.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Prosperity Gospel: A Doctrine of Devils

The Christians should always be healthy, the Christian should always be financially well off, and the Christian should be popular and prosper in all that he does. These are the beliefs held by many people today, and particularly by those within the Word of Faith movement. We are told that it is always God's will for a Christian to be healthy, and if they are sick it is because they have not enough faith. Likewise God desires us to be financially well off and to prosper in everything that we do, as expressed by Joel Osteen who said that 'You were born to win. You were born for greatness. You were created to be a champion in life.' Yet is this truly what the Word of God teaches? Is it true that a Christian should always be healthy and if they are not prospering in life it is because of a lack of faith? Is a child of God supposed to focus on health, wealth and prosperity in this life, and is the message of preachers such as Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar really in accordance with the Word of God? 1st Timothy 4:1 says that 'in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils'. It is my belief that rather than being biblical in origin, the prosperity gospel has its true origins in hell, and is that which is described in 1st Timothy; a doctrine of devils. The notion of 'your best life now' was accurately derided by John MacArthur when he said that the only way this is your best life is if you are going to hell.