Law and Gospel: The Essentials. Sin Boldly Episode 118

img-9Pastor Tom Baker, a man whose teaching I have admired for years, joins me on this episode to discuss his speciality: the Lutheran understanding of Law and Gospel. Luther said that “The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian.” Pr. Baker joins me to look at the Lutheran distinctives in understanding Law and Gospel. You’ll love this teaching.

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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Responding to Matt Chandler on the Charismatic Gifts. Sin Boldly Episode 117

Matt-Chandler-Preaching-1Matt Chandler of The Village Church in DFW recently gave a sermon expressing his desire that the Village Church would embrace the Charismatic gifts, presumably of prophecy, healing and tongues. I reviewed the sermon and the issues behind it.

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.

On Closing Pandora’s Box. Sin Boldly Episode 116

box-she-s-told-not-to-open-in-it-the-gods-had-placed-all-the-evils-9vbl9q-clipartGiven the daily drumbeat of scandal, I thought it was worth spending time looking at the contradictions of our time. On the one hand, Christian morality is mocked. On the other the side, the effects of exploited freedom are all around. What is the Christian response to these scandals? And what would truly benefit women? More freedom in the name of “art”? Or more Christians living as they ought?

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.

On Being Thankful in a Consumerist Age

Pastor Evan McClanahan

checkPrime._CB507233612_The other day I bought myself a new vacuum cleaner. A nice vacuum. A German vacuum. I decided I’d had  enough of bagless vacuums and I wanted one with an ideal attachment for wood floors. So, in what may be called by Millennials an “adulting” enterprise, I went to a store that only sells vacuums and paid a little extra for the real deal. My floors have never looked better.

Of course, we had a working vacuum at home. So my wife’s question was, “Why did we need another vacuum?” I told her not to worry about it, to just consider it my birthday present. Oh, and the wood-burning smoker I bought earlier in the year? That’s my Christmas present. See how nice I am? No one even has to shop for me because I buy myself everything I need!

We are near the Thanksgiving season, the time we deliberately take time off to reflect on what we are thankful for. I suppose taking for granted all that is good in our life – most notably life itself! – is a historical reality for man so being intentional with this time off is necessary. Still, I wonder if it is not harder than ever to truly be thankful in this consumerist age. After all, we have everything we need. So is it harder to be thankful when we are so sated?

I think it is. Americans live primarily as consumers. Like Pavlov’s dog, we have been trained to be consumers since we were born. Capitalism (a perfectly moral economic system, mind you) has been the system through which men and their corporations have sought to make a profit by selling you a product that you need…or want. And since having the freedom to voluntarily purchase the products we want is a far better alternative to being forced to buy products we do not, capitalism it is! I mean, do any of us desire a Soviet-era car or do we seek to emulate North Korean-style farming production? (That’s not to mention the lesser-than-outright-communist examples of socialized welfare, medicine and education that leave a lot to be desired.)

Still, even if capitalism is the best game in town, it at the very least produces a cycle of innovation, marketing, and purchasing. Much about that cycle is good. But there are the frequent sideshows of coveting, greed and corporate/government manipulation that accompany that cycle. The housing bust of 2008 is a perfect example that kind of interruption in a “pure” capitalist cycle. So we have, then, an imperfect way of collecting information, manufacturing products or offering services and purchasing them as consumers. And we have an absolute barrage of marketing campaigns thrown our way from birth to death to get us to participate in that imperfect system.

With such marketing campaigns comes the comfort of being the envy of the corporate world. They all want us, you see? The car company, the toy manufacturer, the grocery chain…they all want something from us and to get it, they appeal to us. They spend millions on focus-tested messages. They tell us the “customer is always right.” They generate sales and coupons for us. They hope we had a “great experience” with their product and they hope to “see us again”. In short, consumers are pampered. And we are nothing if not consumers.

It should be obvious that that kind of pampering and marketing to religious consumers has taken over the American evangelical church. It should be obvious that historic, confessional churches that remain committed to the Bible and do not cater to religious consumers face an uphill battle in “attracting” adherents. And it should be obvious that those committed to being consumers will naturally have very little to be thankful for. For, don’t you know, they already have everything they need because they were catered to, marketed to, and sold to?

It is possible, even if hard, to defend a free market and to preach against a consumerist mindset. And the Church must do both of those things well. For in the end, a free market reflects a free people, and people with dignity are worthy of freedom. But when it comes to consumerism, we should know that God will not cater to us, pamper us or appeal to our needs. Yes, He is loving, and merciful and just, to be sure. But He is also holy and true and uncompromising. So we cannot be consumers of God, and we cannot even dare to approach Him with such a mindset.

For behind the vacuums, phones, televisions, cars, guitars, houses and furniture that we consume is the God of the entire creation. This Thanksgiving season, let us try to set aside our freedom as consumers for just a moment and acknowledge our debt to God.

A Debate: What is the Biblical View of Free Will?

Free will debate correctionsFirst Evangelical Lutheran Church in Houston hosted a debate on the Biblical View of Free Will November 3, 2017. The debate featured two Reformed Baptists and two Traditional Baptists. In essence, this is a debate on how free man’s will is in relation to God’s sovereign decree. This debate is already gained significant attention on YouTube, in part because of the especially fiery nature of the debate. Hey, I’m only the host!

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.

Carl Lentz and the Fetal Position. Sin Boldly Episode 115

Lentz-compressedElijah Thompson of the Fetal Position Podcast and Dank Pro-Life Memes stopped by (metaphorically speaking) to discuss his ministry and Carl Lentz’ comments on The View. We looked at common arguments for the pro-life position and I gathered his thoughts on the abolitionist v. pro-life views.

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.

Religious Liberty Rights and One Crazy Exorcism. Sin Boldly Episode 114.

268982-declaration-of-independence-rolled-upOn this solo episode I look at a handful of religious liberty issues and tell the tale of a possession…almost in time for Halloween. Christians should always ask themselves and others: what world do you want to live in? We take a look at that as well.

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.

The Only Way Hollywood Can Depict Innocence

star_trek_ii_the_wrath_of_khan_spocks_death2In a shocking turn of events, a bigwig Hollywood producer was found to be a big, hypocritical bully who abused women. Oh wait, were we actually shocked by that? Have you seen any movies lately? Indeed, should we be surprised when the institution that promotes a thoroughly worldly, well, worldview acts that way behind the scenes? I still believe Hollywood can and does create movies that speak to significant truths, moral quandaries, and the nature of man. Such films may be rare, but they do exist. Blade Runner anyone?

With this recent revelation of the seedy side of Hollywood, though, I was reminded of a reality for any filmmaker: how hard it is to depict actual innocence. What I mean by that is, it is hard to create a character who is truly innocent, a character we deeply sympathize with, a character who is so much better than ourselves. Sure, many good men and women have been created as fiction or revealed by documentaries. Many legal stories have been told about legally innocent people on trial. And these days, it is normal to depict characters who are actually bad guys and yet remain the heroes of the tale. These are our postmodern “antiheroes.”

The problem is that when a character is depicted as good, he or she can become boring or unbelievable quite quickly. The audience will not relate to the character because they will be “too good.” The audience will find themselves disinterested in the character because they have no depth. So they need some degree of fault so they can be relatable, or perhaps even redeemable. Some of the better depictions I know of in this vein are Gladiator’s Maximus and Chariots of Fire’s Eric Liddell. Both characters were men of honor and integrity. One was even a believing Christian!

Still, the greatest story ever told is the story of a truly innocent man who died for our sins. The story of Christ is, in a sense, the only story that matters. It is the meta-narrative of fall and restoration, sin and redemption, brokenness and reconciliation. These then end up being the themes of great stories, precisely because they point to the larger story of the innocent Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. Occasionally, even the weirdos in Hollywood manage to tell this story well.

Still, there have been some characters, at least that I have noticed, that are truly innocent, not just good people. How are they innocent if they are also stained by sin? Well, usually, they are “different” in a way that causes less observation of feelings or surroundings. Or, they are not fully human. (Yes, they are forensically guilty as are all born of Adam. But the audience does not think of them in that light.)

Think of Forest Gump. Looking back, why did so many people react to that film emotionally? It is a strange story in many respects, wandering from this era to that with no real story arc in mind. But it is the innocence of the lead character that drives the story. It is his unquestioned love for Jenny; it is his devoted service to his fellow soldiers and Lt. Dan; it is his unthinking greatness on the football field. His devotion and charity were pure because he lacked the same level of awareness as others.

Think of Spock from Star Trek. The single most obvious Christ-like depiction I am aware of in film is in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. (Well, other than Jesus in The Passion of the Christ!) In addition to Ricardo Montalban’s famous physique, that film is a classic because of Spock’s sacrificial solution to a grave problem. It is his innocence that gives that film depth and staying power. And why might you shed a tear for him at the end of that film, but not for Captain Kirk in the more recent reversed version of the same story (Into Darkness)? Because Spock, being only half human, is innocent. And Captain Kirk is just another good guy.

Yes, it actually takes characters who are either not fully human or possess “less” intelligence for Hollywood to depict a Christ-like figure. I imagine you can also think of other movies were characters garnered sympathy through their innocence. Sean Penn in I am Sam; Lenny in Of Mice and Men; heck, even Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2! (Sarah Connor did remark that he would be a perfect father after all.)

Well, I am not a film critic nor am I the son of a film critic. I am just reminded of how utterly unlike us Jesus Christ is because he is truly innocent. Perhaps the films mentioned or others like them can help us to see just what was sacrificed on the cross, and how deeply unfair such a sacrifice was. And perhaps those we know in our life who possess that innocent quality can be valued for the true gifts that they are.

I know that I can often lose sight of just what a profound injustice the cross was, because I find it impossible to imagine true innocence. And yet, that is what we believe about Christ. It is all the more astounding then, as Paul says in Romans 5, Jesus died for sinners like you and me: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Reformation Thoughts, Raqqa Falls and Corporations are People. Sin Boldly Episode 113

reformation2017-logo-color-vr-233x300In this solo episode, I look at a handful of issues, including some thoughts on the Reformation given that its anniversary is upon us. I also speak about the Battle of Raqqa, a significant victory in the war against ISIS that seems to be largely ignored. Finally I look at the corporate exemptions the Trump administration seems to be granting on religious grounds and ask if corporations should be treated the same as individuals in matters of conscience.

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.

How AI Will Replace God. Sin Boldly Episode 112

ai-lessonsIn this solo episode I look at a number of issues, including how Artificial Intelligence will replace God. Yes, some are working towards an AI replacement of God. (The truth is that man will soothe himself with technology that is built to serve him rather than bend the knee at God’s Word.) I also look at the Hefner/Weinstein connection and a new poll that asks if religion does more harm than good.

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.