Summarize Traditionalism

December 15, 2017

By Leighton Flowers
Director of Apologetics for Texas Baptists

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at soteriology 101, and is used by permission.

I was recently asked if there was one passage that succinctly summarizes the Traditional perspective. Of course, no one passage says everything that could be said for any soteriological worldview, but if I were forced to choose one passage it would be this one:

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.” – Proverbs? ?28:13-14? ?

For a more detailed explanation on what Traditionalism stands for please watch this:

Complicated Salvations

December 13, 2017

By Keith Eitel
Dean of the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Theological Matters and is used by permission.

Dry dusty roads led into the village. Worshipers gathered. As a missionary guest that day, I preached at that church. Lively music and dancing are typical of African worship. This day was no exception. It came time for an evangelistic invitation. A sub-chief walked the aisle for a decision. That was all well and good, even celebrative. The only complication to this man’s expression of faith was that he brought his five wives with him to make this decision. What does a foreign missionary do?

Polygamy, a long-standing issue in most African settings, is characteristic of African Traditional Religious belief systems that pre-date the advent of both Islam and Christianity. These ideologies persist in the fabric of various Christian traditions, whether denominational or not, in African churches today.

Solutions are not simple fixes. The convention we were part of had already developed a policy to help normalize reaction to this issue. The convention’s historical practice was to ask the man to choose one of the wives and “put out” the remaining ones. There were usually children involved, and this act created serious and ongoing social crises. The wives who departed the family network usually were as destitute as widows. People in the rest of the culture viewed these women as still being the wives of the man who wished to join the church. That limited their likely options for any sort of familial support in the aftermath of such disruptions. More often than not, they were soon resorting to prostitution to provide basic needs for their children and even to eat. As supposedly new believers, this was no healthy discipleship program.

At the time, a recently developed policy recommended first in-depth counseling with them all in order to understand their own personal decisions regarding Christ. If confident in their decisions to yield their lives to Christ, one could proceed with discussion of church membership. After all, Christ’s blood covers the sins associated with polygamy too. Finally, they could be presented for church membership on the grounds that, in a group, they each gave testimony of their salvation; confessed having entered the practice of polygamy due to cultural norms without knowing about Christ or that this was sinful; and agreed to end the practice of polygamy with that generation and to never seek nor accept leadership roles in the local church. They would ask for the congregation to assist them in teaching their children not to continue polygamous practices when they would eventually have families.

In parallel with these happenings, I had a very sharp African seminary student in my biblical ethics class. He asked me if an article he had read was true, namely that in America we have a problem of men marrying many women over time or sequentially. “It does, unfortunately, seem to happen in some families,” I replied. My own mother and father married each other three times and divorced each other three times. When my dad died, he was on his sixth marriage. The student said then, “Sir, in America, you have the same problems, then, that we face here. The main difference is that, in our cultures, it is common to have all the wives simultaneously.”

Eventually, I found academic articles that characterized our North American marriage and divorce cycles as “serial polygamy.” In the end, lest we get too prideful and ethnocentric in judging other cultures, we should look at ourselves. Could a man walk the aisle to present for membership this Sunday, and the pastor be asked to conduct him through the membership process, though essentially the gentleman is a “polygamist,” having had multiple marriages? It is not a question of one culture being more fallen than another. Instead, it is that we need mutually to assist one another with “beams” and “specks” in our eyes for better glorification of God’s design for the family.

The Red Feather Returns

December 11, 2017

By Dr. Tom Elliff
Former President Southern Baptist Convention
Former President International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Dr. Elliff’s personal blog and is used by permission.

There’s nothing more destructive to your life than unresolved bitterness. An unforgiving spirit makes as much sense as drinking poison and expecting someone else to fall over dead. Bitterness is like an acid that eats at a person from the inside out.  In fact, an unforgiving spirit is clearly labeled as sin by the Lord Himself.

Yet, at this season of the year as we celebrate the arrival of the One who makes divine forgiveness possible there are still many whose hearts have a stored up supply of hurts from out of their past. For those people, joy is only an illusion. They sing about it without ever experiencing it.

Finding forgiveness in Christ makes it possible for you to extend the same to others. In the process of doing so, you are set free! But how can you forgive after being wounded so deeply?

For years I have told a story of forgiveness. It is a story I personally witnessed, taking place in my own family. Over a decade ago, I published this true story under the title, The Red Feather. Imagine my surprise that now, years afterward, that small book has been used to touch the hearts of tens of thousands.

Now, CLC (Christian Literature Crusade) has released nationwide a new edition of The Red Feather. The response has been nothing short of amazing! Since this is a Christmas story at heart, I want to make it personally available to you. It is an excellent gift book for Christmas (I just spoke with a lady who has obtained a copy for each of her children).  Order your copies today from our bookstore.

AN IMPORTANT INTRODUCTION…AND A NEW BEGINNING

Those of you who have faithfully followed us on this site know of the passing of Jeannie, my dear wife of forty-nine years, in July, 2015. Since then, for an extended period of time, this Living in the Word site has been somewhat silent as I pondered God’s new direction for life and ministry.

June 2, 2017, marked a new beginning in my life as Diana Barber and I were wed in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Paige Patterson on the Southwestern Seminary Campus. Diana is the former wife of pastor and teacher Wayne Barber of Chattanooga, TN. Wayne passed away in 2016 after a lengthy battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Wayne and Diana were married for forty-seven years. Jeannie and I first met Wayne and Diana at a Bible Conference in Salzburg, Austria, in 1984. In a manner only God could have orchestrated, Diana and I were brought together and now eagerly anticipate the days of ministry ahead.  You’ll be meeting and hearing more about Diana, our marriage and the leadership of God in our lives, as you stay connected with us in the days ahead by means of this blog.

Both Diana and I pray for you the kind of joyous Christmas we are also experiencing.

Rejoice evermore!

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