Preventing the Wrath of God by Excommunciation

Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the church, if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders. Westminster Confession of Faith, Article 30, Chapter 3.

Few would argue against the idea that the church in America sits under the wrath of God. It is not as bad as it could be. But it is worse than it was and getting worse day by day.  Sins which would make our reformed fathers blush are now common place and justified, such as easy divorce. Theological ideas are usually pliable. Men and women sit it pews week after week with blood on their hands, porn in their pockets, and rebellion in their hearts. And pastors refuse to address it. They refuse to call them to repentance. Maybe they are big tithers. Maybe they are important people in the community. Or maybe the pastor is afraid of making the alpha-woman in the congregation mad. Whatever the reason, the church sits under the wrath of God because pastors and elders refuse to use the keys of the kingdom.

Long ago I did not understand the importance of excommunication.  But as we look out on the powerless church in America and I read this section of the WCF I see its value. Excommunication is a sign that we care about God’s glory and God’s people. Our refusal to kick unrepentant men and women out of our churches is not a sign of our love for them. It is a sign of our hatred of God. He will not be mocked. Therefore His wrath is kindled. If churches want spiritual power in our communities then we might begin by kicking out those who blatantly disregard the commands of God. Until we do this, all our claims to love God, his Word, and his people are empty.

Book Review: Covenants Made Simple by Jonty Rhodes

Covenants Made SimpleCovenants Made Simple by Jonty Rhodes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A really good layman’s introduction to the covenants. There is a lot information and nuances missing, especially for those of us who eat and drink covenant theology. But if you hand it to the average person in the pew they will come away with a better understanding of how God works. He does hold the classic covenant of works paradigm. So if you hate the covenant of works or are looking for a careful discussion of how grace fits into the covenant of works you will be disappointed. He does a good job showing that there are really three groups of people: pagans, covenant breakers, and covenant keepers. Only covenant keepers are regenerate and elect.

A couple of gaps. First, while he does address church polity, he really doesn’t address the role of the minister and worship in the new covenant. I would have liked more time spent on that.

Second, he doesn’t address church membership. He does address baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but some discussion of church membership would have been helpful.

A really helpful book though and I would easily give it out to new members, especially those just starting to grasp the covenant, such as former Baptists.

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We Need Theologians Devoted to Worship Music

Martin Luther 4

In a previous blog post I listed Dr. T. David Gordon’s musical preferences for worship. He listed these in an article title “Coral Ridge Reply.”  Below I have quoted the final paragraph in that article.  Dr. Gordon lists three harmful effects that come from the assertion that worship music preferences are trivial.  Bold is mine.

 I am very disappointed, however, to hear that Coral Ridge regards music, and the various preferences associated with it, as “trivial.”  To regard it as such will inevitably have three effects, each harmful:  First, it will continue to marginalize those of us who regard music (and the sociology of music) as an extremely significant humane consideration.  We have apparently wasted our time attempting to develop informed preferences, since all such preferences are, apparently, “trivial.”  Second, this will continue to embolden those who have not studied music, music history, aesthetic theory, theology, etc., because their uninformed preference is, apparently, to be regarded as neither more nor less “trivial” than the preference of those of us who are informed.  Third, this determination will continue to foster some degree of division because Pastor Tchividjian assumes, as a given, one answer to the very question that needs to be resolved, to wit:  Is the matter of how we sing praise to God in corporate worship a serious matter, worthy of the attention of our best theologians (Luther and Calvin wrote about the matter, and Luther and Charles Wesley wrote about hymnody and hymns themselves), or is it merely a “trivial” matter, about which we should not really have any firm opinions?  Pastor Tchividjian’s post begs the very question that needs an answer.

I want to make one point about Dr. Gordon’s list. The church needs men, pastors and teachers, who are trained in theology, Bible, pastoral care, church history, and music. Too much of modern church music is rooted in the romantic and sentimental idea that love for God, the ability to play an instrument and/0r sing make one fit to produce church music. Like most evangelicals, church musicians are weak on theology, church history, and Bible. Thus much modern church music is empty. It is telling that the best worship music today is either putting the Psalms to new tunes or taking old hymns and putting them to new tunes. The original stuff is not that great. The worship of God demands our best theologians, professors, and pastors to carefully think through worship music and build on our fathers in the faith so that moving forward we can have music that ministers to God’s people, present and future, resists the current cultural trends, and is pleasing to the Lord. Without this our generation will contribute very little to the church’s musical heritage.