Small Church Essentials. With Karl Vaters. Sin Boldly Episode 128

41qsejNasDL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Karl Vaters, author of The Grasshopper Myth and now Small Church Essentials, joins me to discuss how small churches need not despair over their size, but seek health in carrying out the mission of Christ. Karl is an encouragement to the majority of us clergy folks who pastor in small congregations. His book is a very useful guide in how to do ministry well in spite of resource limitations. Check it out! 

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

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Strange Actions in Worship, Part 2: Making the Sign of the Cross

download-1Last month, I took a look at one “strange” thing we do in worship: bowing in the direction of the altar or towards the processional cross. This month, appropriately perhaps for Lent, I will look at why some Lutherans make the sign of the cross. Why do, when the name of God is said or when the pastor makes the sign of the cross, do we cross ourselves, touching forehead, stomach, shoulders and chest? This is one of the more misunderstood actions in Lutheran worship, so let us take a look.

We begin by saying all that it this small ritual is not. Making the sign of the cross is not reserved for Roman Catholics or the Eastern Orthodox. True, it is more common in those traditions, and many in the Orthodox tradition will even stoop over to touch their feet rather than being content to touch their stomach. But there is not a copyright or trademark on the practice for more “ancient” churches, and Luther himself encouraged it. In the Small Catechism, he writes the following instructions before the morning and evening prayers: “In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say…” So if Luther himself encouraged it, it is hard to say it is not a Lutheran practice.

Physically making the sign of the cross does not syllabically correspond directly to the name of God. You need not try to match the syllables of God’s name with where your hand is at any given time.

It is not a ritual that increases your piety or should be seen as an attempt to increase your standing before others. Like all such rituals, they are used to reflect particular truths and to remind us that we personalize those truths. But if you find yourself using such rituals to “feel” more holy or if you secretly hope others will see you doing them, it is probably best to stop. As with bowing, such small acts are not required for worship, and can help or hinder worship. Employ them as you are comfortable.

And finally, it is not idolatry to make the sign of the cross. Yes, some suggest that and even worse, arguing that it makes no sense to remember the instrument that killed our Lord, and that within the cross, there is no special significance. To make the sign of the cross, they say, or to wear it as jewelry even, is to make it a kind of charm or mystical covering. “The focus should be on Jesus, not what killed him,” would be a way to summarize the argument.

I simply do not see any harm in remembering – and placing ourselves under – the cross of Christ. And while we would agree that thinking of crosses as special coverings or charms (like those ubiquitous “St. Christopher Protects Us” necklaces) would come close to idolatry, making the sign itself doesn’t put us in that ballpark.

So what are we doing? Well, I’ve already pretty well said it: we are identifying ourselves as people of the cross, as people under the cross, and as people who are saved by the cross of Christ alone. We are acknowledging our debt to the cross of Christ and we are remembering that at our baptism, the sign of the cross was marked on our forehead in oil. Then, these words were said: “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”

Indeed, that seal and mark are what we reference when we make the sign of the cross when the Triune name of God is said: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For that is the name into which we were baptized. So when we make the sign of the cross upon hearing God’s name, it is a reminder that we are baptized children of God, and we are the holders of God’s promises.

Why do we touch the particular areas that we do (head, shoulders, chest, etc.) What we remember then are the five wounds of Christ: the crown of thorns, the nails in the feet and hands, and the spear that pierced his side. It was by those wounds that we are healed and by that death (the resurrection also should always be assumed when making the sign of the cross) that we will live. This puts to bed debates about whether the actual cross resembled more a lowercase or uppercase “t”. This isn’t about the piece of wood, but the man and his wounds on it.

Remember that in many ways, America is not a Lutheran country. The Lutherans that made their way here from Germany and Scandinavia were late, relatively small in number and just timid enough to not exert particular influence on religious culture in America. America really is a Calvinist country. Even Southern Baptists originally signed onto the London Baptist Confession, a Calvinist confession not so different from the Westminster Confession. And Calvinists are more clearly opposed to Roman rituals and also include an iconoclastic strand that limits artistic expression in worship. Therefore, the act of making the sign of the cross is strange to many American Christians. But its Lutheran roots are as old as Luther himself. And if you are comfortable with the ritual and it helps center you as a baptized child of God, cross yourself as often as you like.

On the Wisdom of Legally Incorporated, Property-Owning, Institutional Churches

00According to http://www.unchurching.com, there are “millions” of Christians who remain Christian but have left the institutional church behind. Apparently, these Christians have finally come to see all of the hypocrisy and institutionality of the modern church and have woken up to see you don’t need all the trappings of “church” to be in a Christian community. They live out their Christianity in “organic” home-based fellowships and have eschewed all the trappings of the “institutional” church: ordained pastors, 501(c)(3) tax exemptions, membership rolls, and a building and its accompanying mortgage. The cartoons and animations created at unchurching.com encourage those who cannot bear an “institution” any longer and offers them a better way: leave “Churchianity” and enjoy real Christianity instead.

Some are relieved to find such encouragement. Some (people like me who find most of the objections presented as little more than creative sleight-of-hand) find the ideas less than helpful. While this is not reflective of a formal debate on the topic of whether or not Christians are biblically mandated to belong to a congregation with properly appointed elders and the like, I would like to challenge the more popular arguments presented at unchurching.com and by those who generally argue that Christianity and membership within an “institutional” congregation are contradictions-in-terms.

A formal disclaimer: I realize everything I am about to say carries no weight because I am a pastor of an “institutional” church. We even bothered to get ourselves a 501(c)(3) tax exemption back in the day, so some might say we are basically pawns of the government. If it helps, you might even imagine IRS agents sitting in our pews every week to make sure we say all the right things. The horror of it all! So I’m just a preserver of my way of life and have no objectivity in the matter. Or so some would believe.

But if you will allow me to continue…I will agree with the author, himself a former pastor of an “institutional” congregation, in that there are millions who are done with church. Many of them are moderates or liberals in the “institutional” church who are being picked off by snipers in secularist camps. But of the millions who are done with the church, how many of them remain Christian and actually do the hard work of continuing to meet with the saints is impossible to know. I seriously doubt that number is in the millions. It strikes me as far more likely that when people leave “institutional” churches with membership rolls, accountability and “normal” leadership in the way of elders and pastors, most of these souls will eventually lose all Christian fellowship and even the faith. Not all, but most.

I’ll further agree, in all seriousness, that there are good reasons to leave some institutional church settings. Church abuse is real. I’m not sure how common it is, but it happens and I can only imagine the disgust one would have if they were victimized by a church, or if a church defends perpetuators of evil. The evangelical church also has waves of absurd Charismania, money-grubbing charlatans, and cults of personality fill radio and television waves. So yes, there is a lot of silliness and insanity that should be left behind.

But are there still good churches worth supporting? Are there still enough faithful “institutional” churches that can serve as gathering places for Christians looking for honest and authentic community? Yes, I think there are more than enough. And they are possibly in the process of slowly dying. Encouraging Christians to leave good fellowship by mocking institutional churches won’t help anyone, either the churches who see dwindling support or the Christians who claim to be able to go it alone. These people and these churches need each other, and all unchurching.com is doing is tearing them apart by mockery and ridicule. A churchman ought to know better.

What specifically are my gripes? First, to knock the church as we often find it as being merely “institutional” or “corporate” is to simply use buzz words to capture an audience. But they convey very little. There is nothing wrong with a particular body of believers also having legal incorporation. There are good and shrewd reasons for doing this: protection, stewardship and good governance. To put it bluntly, there is not a single church I am aware of that has ever been hindered by being legally incorporated as a 501(c)(3). Sure, are some pastors too timid for fear of losing it? Yes. But none have lost it. Only Bob Jones University was threatened with losing its 501(c)(3) status when it refused to allow integrated couples to live together on campus. But as political candidates preach from church pulpits, it should be clear that no church is, at this time, in danger of of losing its tax exempt status. If they are not preaching the full gospel, it is due to cowardice, not their incorporation. As I’ve said before, so long as Scientology has its tax exempt status, we have nothing to worry about, and should be bold in our proclamation without fear of losing our 501(c)(3) status.

There are also a fair amount of word games being played. It is true that Christians often use the word “church” in a technically incorrect way. The Church is a people. The Church is God’s people. The Church is the people for whom Jesus bled and died. And yet, we often use the word to describe a building or event, as in, “Isn’t that church lovely?” or “I’m going to church this evening.” So Christians identify the church as a people, a place and an event. So what? Is there really any harm here?

And what’s the alternative? This is a normal way we use language. We do the same thing when we drop our children off at school. A “school” is a building; it is also an event, for I don’t expect my children to sit in an empty building all day, but to do “schooling” activities: working, learning, playing, etc. The same is true for a bank. It is also a word we use to denote a building and all of the “banking” activities going on. To use word usage to suggest that we “have it all wrong” about Christianity is weak.

And what is the alternative to the body of Christ meeting at a regular time in a building large enough to hold more than a few dozen people? An undirected, unorganized non-group of Christians? Is that necessarily a better option? What Christians are describing when they say they are “going to church”  is an ordered and regular way of life in a building that can facilitate more people than a personal home. I fail to understand how this is some cause célèbre against Christians who belong to an “institutional” congregation.

Are house churches really the solution to the weaknesses of the institutional church? It may be part of the solution. But do we have to figuratively burn down “institutional” churches on our way out? I don’t think so. For starters, there is absolutely nothing that prohibits incorporated congregations from understanding themselves as family. I have heard as many horror stories about cult-like house churches as instition-ridden corporate churches.

Our congregation, a small, Lutheran parish, thinks of itself as a family even though we have a property, are incorporated, etc. None of us get together and say, “Wow, we make a lovely corporation,” though if you can appreciate the root of that word (“corpus” = “body”), that actually wouldn’t be a bad thing to say. It’s just not cool to associate with something that sounds like Enron, so using that word has rhetorical pejorative power.

The suggestion that the Bible only offers house churches as a model is also besides the point. Of course the early church met in houses; they had to given that their religion was illegal! But houses have limitations, for better or worse, in modern America. They have size limitations to start, so at most, are we looking at 20 person gatherings? I’m not knocking 20 believers coming together, of course, but if this is the secret for that all-elusive kingdom growth, house meetings may limit size. “Well, we can always have more houses.” Great, but you will compound other problems. Like, are trustworthy people leading these meetings? Do you expect to need theologically trained and/or certified leaders? Will there be a doctrinal statement binding these churches together? Does your neighborhood zoning allow such meetings?

And that gets to the importance of denominations and their purpose. Far from institutionalizing and corporatizing congregations, it creates helpful boundaries and offers confessional standards for both those inside and outside the congregation. Others will know what to expect by a denominational affiliation. I mean, lets say someone is a part of a home-based organic community in Cleveland, OH. And they get transferred to San Antonio, TX. How will they find another organic, home-based community? Will they have to wait until someone they know invites them to one, meanwhile ignoring all the “corporate” churches with those evil buildings in their midst?

Some other benefits to institutional and incorporated congregations I’ll only list in bullet point form:

  • Outside help with church discipline, including when church leadership is in sin. (Yes, sometimes church bodies tragically protect their own. That is a great sin that cannot and will not be defended here.)
  • Collections and support for missionaries.
  • Collections and support for the training of leaders.
  • Congregations working together for justice issues.
  • Church buildings hosting community building events like weddings, funerals, scout meetings, musical concerts, theatrical productions, graduations, etc.

The truth is that there is no easy solution to the imperfections of church life. Buildings have advantages and disadvantages. Pastors can seek to lead cult-like organizations, and so too can leaders of organic, home-based communities. Having a corporate charter might intimidate pastors to restrict their preaching, but not having one may lead to less oversight. If you want to propose additional ways of Christians being in fellowship, great. But make your arguments against the Church more substantive. Mocking it for being incorporated or owning a property will appeal to some, but will doubtful build up the body more than working from within.

Unchurching: An Interview with author Richard Jacobson. Sin Boldly Episode 127

01I was joined by Richard Jacobson, the author of “Unchurching”, to look at the main ideas of his book. He calls into question some of the practices and foundations of the “institutional” or “corporate” church. The honest conversation reflects, I think, the main arguments for and against leaving church as we know it behind. Hopefully we will keep this conversation going.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

 

Strange Actions in Worship, Part 1: Bowing

Deep-bowVisitors to a Lutheran congregation will often quickly notice some things Lutherans do, things they had never before seen in Protestant churches. They may find these things strange, or even offensive. Since Lutherans will often do them without thinking, it is good to review why we do some of these “strange” (or should I say “stranger”!) things.

In particular, I am thinking of two practices in worship that may catch the visitor’s attention: the acts of bowing and crossing yourself. (We will look at the second next month.) Bowing in the direction of the altar is common in Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. Indeed, in many Orthodox churches, bowing is a consistent part of the entire liturgy, and some parishioners bow deeply enough to touch their toes. Anglicans have retained the practice as well, often before they enter a pew.

Towards what or whom are these worshippers bowing? In general, bowing is offered in the direction of the altar, where, particularly in many Roman Catholic parishes, you will find a tabernacle nearby. A tabernacle is a golden vessel that holds the consecrated, but unconsumed, host (bread) from a previous mass. In Orthodox churches, many icons (two-dimensional written images of the saints) line the walls of the chancel, and bowing to them is common and frequent. The Orthodox would be quick to point out that they are offering “veneration”, not “worship”, towards these icons, a difference between two Greek words, “proskuneo” and “latreuo”. Roman Catholics make this same distinction when describing their reverence for Mary in prayer and devotion. Whether or not it is truly an offer of worship, and therefore falls into idolatrous territory, is a matter of ongoing debate.

In Protestant churches, where neither icons nor tabernacles are present, the tradition has developed of bowing in the general direction of the altar, just as we face the altar during prayer. Of course, God does not reside at the altar, per se, but the practice of bowing is a helpful tool for centering our minds and thoughts as we pray. We also bow at the cross as it passes us during the procession/recession, or when it is stationed in the front and the worship enablers and choir make their way towards it.

But is such bowing okay? Surely many Protestants would find it strange and even objectionable, possibly even venturing into idolatry. Perhaps we offer first a word on bowing in general. I can think of no better symbolic action for our bodies than bowing when we consider coming into the presence of God. We see men of old, Isaiah in chapter 6 for example, being fearful in the presence of God. They are aware of their smallness and their sin in the presence of an immaterial and holy God. They naturally want to acknowledge their smallness. How do they do this? By bowing, or even lying prostrate on the ground. One might argue that bowing is the only proper position of the body before God.

When we bow in worship, it is not because we believe the altar itself is worthy of our worship. And it is not because we believe the image on the cross holds any special power. The altar is a place where we bless the elements of the Lord’s Supper, and hence, it is a place of focus. Likewise, we symbolically follow Christ into worship and out into the world (this is why the cross leads both procession and recession), but we don’t believe that symbol holds any special or magical power in and of itself. And yet, we want to acknowledge our place before God in an appropriate manner and bowing is a most appropriate action to take in the presence of God.

If you are not comfortable bowing, you are not obligated to do so. I have experienced some worship services that had all of the pomp of liturgical correctness, but none of the truth of the Gospel. Bowing in and of itself is simply an act of your body, and if it is not accompanied by a profound sense of rightly positioning your body in God’s presence, you will be missing the point.

Just know that when we bow, we are seeking to communicate that we are bowing not to the altar nor to the cross, but to God himself. And since God is not particularly located anywhere at that point in the worship service, we are using the altar and cross as appropriate locations for our focus and attention.

Now, we do believe that there comes a time in the worship service when God is present among us. This takes place at the Lord’s Supper, of course. So, I bow towards the bread and wine following the consecration of the elements. Some pastors do not. I believe that bowing at this time offers a commentary on the nature of the elements. Still, if we remember that we are bowing to God first and foremost, I do not believe we have fallen into idolatry.

How Ambitious Should Christians Be?

commodus01Forgive the long quote to begin an article, but it applies so nicely! In an early scene in the masterful Gladiator, the emperor’s twisted son Commodus realizes that he will not be named emperor of Rome. In a last minute plea to his father, he says the following: “You wrote to me once, listing the four chief virtues: wisdom, justice, fortitude and temperance. As I read the list, I knew I had none of them. But I have other virtues, father. Ambition. That can be a virtue when it drives us to excel. Resourcefulness. Courage. Perhaps not on the battlefield, but … there are many forms of courage. Devotion, to my family and to you.”

There are many quotable lines from Gladiator, but this line always stood out to me. I don’t know that I ever questioned whether ambition was virtuous or not. But in the classical mindset, a mindset in which there were definite boundaries regarding virtue and vice, you are forced to ascribe certain characteristics as one or the other. And while I had never thought of ambition as particularly vicious, it became obvious why ambition would lack virtue.

By its nature, ambition is fundamentally about the self. It is about rising above others, as being seen as better than others. It is not about serving others, but ultimately serving your own desires above the needs of others. Politicians work in the vocation of public service; their calling is not to themselves, but to their fellow citizens. But we have a low regard for them precisely because we know how many are ambitious to exercise power and enrich themselves rather than to humbly serve their neighbor.

But isn’t Commodus right? Isn’t there some context in which ambition can be virtuous, if it drives us to excel? The always-helpful parable of the talents teaches us that Jesus wants us to maximize our gifts not hide them away. The God who gifted us with unique gifts wants us to use our talents, to not be lazy, and to strive for excellence. Whether in or out of the church, there is certainly a need for men and women to use their talents in service of others. Perhaps at times that will look like ambition. How do we know when we have crossed a line into vain or vicious ambition rather than maximizing our gifts?

There is no blanket answer, but I think I will start by asking where you see yourself living: in a global, online world, or in a village? (In truth, we live in both, but work with me.) How you answer that question will determine, in part, your ambitious drive. For much of human history, man lived in a pretty small environment, never traveling especially far from the place he was born. His (and her of course) ambitions were limited by his environment, though I’m sure every human being has at some time fantasized about taking over the world! You were born, you survived childhood, you farmed or labored in one fashion or another, and you died relatively young. Ambitions existed, to be sure, but they were necessarily limited to the village.

Obviously, the world has changed and it is now our oyster. We can travel the globe with ease and the Internet has increased our outreach potential. Social media has created new playgrounds for our ambition, playgrounds that really did not exist a half century ago. We face constant temptation (and pressure) to be a voice that makes a difference, and not just to those in our employ at a local business, sitting in our pews, under our roofs, or in our classroom. Now, we want to be able to brag about global metrics: how many downloads and views and likes we have received as validation of our unique charisma?

But how ambitious should Christians be? Doesn’t merely “being Christian” invoke a certain amount of humility that would limit our ambitions? Shouldn’t Christians generally seek to avoid the spotlight and if they do good works at all, do them in secret so the Father can reward them? Marketing and promotion in and of themselves are not bad, but how much focus can we draw to ourselves before we have allowed ourselves to fall into the ambitious trap, poised now for a fall into a pit?

Sure, no one can blame the 10-talent man or woman who has amassed a “following” through hard work and faithfulness to the scriptures. I am amazed and humbled when I hear that men like John MacArthur, James White, Justin Brierly and many more see millions of downloads a year. No doubt there are many, many Christians out there who are wandering how to reproduce that kind of a following. (All for the glory of the Gospel I’m sure. Or maybe not so sure.) In a world defined by the village, such possibilities for ambition not only did not exist, but one wonders if there was not more contentment in the village. Now, there are no limits and no excuse. Our ambitions are unbounded.

It seems to me given the worldwide possibilities – but the reality that very few will or should see their ambitions achieved – a concerted effort to embrace the village should become a disciplined way of life for the follower of Christ. It is not wrong to seek a wider audience, but the people most immediately affected by our stewardship should not be forgotten in the process. The students, children, parishioners, clients, patients and friends in our immediate village should be our focus and we should gladly love and serve them with everything we’ve got.

Because ambition is wrong? Well, I’ll just agree with Marcus Aurelius. It’s more vicious than virtuous. In the meantime, within the life of the Church, the 10(and 2 and 5)-talent men and women should be lifted up by those around them who see the gifts. Don’t force Christians to be ambitious. Let them remain humble by not quenching their gifts. That way, honorable service is offered, but not at the expense of an unleashed ego.

Is Transgenderism a Religion? Sin Boldly Episode 126

human_gender_810_500_55_s_c1This solo episode looks at a number of issues, including the denial of demonic banishment at a Methodist church, an article asking whether Transgenderism is closer to a religious ideology than a scientific reality, and a few thoughts on street preachers and their cultural weirdness.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

My Religion is Better Than Yours. Sin Boldly Episode 125

d8157c3099d924c054e29d64649bc2cf7b269aea3b0d49dc73ed06b4e989fa5cOn this solo episode I look at an article that calls into question whether or not Christianity is really shrinking, and ask whether Christianity does more harm than good. After all, it seems Christians are less prone to adultery and more prone to adopt kids in need, whereas Satanists argue for more rights to unfettered abortion. As they used to say on those NFL commercials: you make the call!

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

A Debate: “Is Molinism Incompatible with God’s Self-Existence?” Sin Boldly Episode 124

luis-de-molinaI was joined by apologists Eric Hernandez and Josh Sommer to host an intra-Christian debate on Molinism and God’s Self-Existence. Molinism, spearheaded perhaps most prominently by Dr. William Lane Craig, argues that God has knowledge of all events by virtue of possessing middle knowledge: what any person would do in any given circumstance. Josh argues that this does damage to a consistent view of the God of the Bible. Thanks to both guests for joining me for a deep debate!

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

A Debate: “Does Atheism Exist?” Featuring Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. Sonny Hernandez

25360405_10155243032768526_193338861_nIt was my pleasure to welcome Drs. Michael Shermer and Sonny Hernandez to debate a rarely, if ever, asked question: does atheism exist? Yes, we all know many call themselves atheists. But can true atheism exist? That is, can it justify its own foundations? Dr. Shermer is an internationally-recognized atheist, editor of Skeptic magazine, and author of several New York Times bestsellers. Dr. Hernandez is a presuppositional apologist and author of five books. Enjoy the dialogue!

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.