Snippets from the interweb (2nd May 2021)

How to criticize the church

Sometimes the church warrants criticism. But there are good and bad ways criticise it. Here, two approaches are contrasted.

Does prayer change God’s mind?

RC Sproul says it certainly changes things, but not so much God’s mind.

How to protect your church from abusers

This is an important one.

Pastor abuse

‘In whatever legitimate form it may arise, Christians should be ready to decry pastoral abuse. However, as finger pointing commences online, the opposite danger inevitably surfaces. Under the notion of exposing “pastoral abuse,” well-meaning believers imperceptibly begin to fall into the snare of “pastor abuse.” A fellow pastor recently made the following important observation: “For all the prominent ‘pastoral abuse’ cases,” he said “I hear far more about abusive congregations who chew up pastors.”‘

Identity politics, opium of the people

‘The temptation on both sides of the political divide is to dismiss the identity politics of the other side as self-interested special pleading, rooted in trivial concerns: the accidental use of a wrong word; the tantrum of somebody who isn’t getting his way; a power play by an ideological bully. And certainly there is much truth here. As I noted in my last column, ideas such as critical race theory have provided easy career paths for populists and professors alike. But we should beware of reducing the whole of identity politics to the self-serving ressentiment of those who want a turn in the limelight. Surely it is more. For many it is the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering.’

Church membership among former Mormons

This 9Marks mailbag question is ostensibly about encouraging former Mormons who have trusted Christ who are suspicious of authoritarian polity because of the LDS background they have left behind. However, whether you live in an area with lots of Mormons or not, there is a lot of wisdom in this about encouraging people into membership who have come from an abusive, authoritarian church background or who struggle with the idea of membership altogether.

From the archive: Should we expect miracles today?

‘I don’t see anything in the Bible that demands cessationism and I struggle to see that a straightforward reading of scripture alone would lead to that conclusion, despite some of the nonsense that passes as supposedly being from the Lord today. I am perfectly open to the idea that tongues, healings and prophecies may happen today (though we would need to have some discussion as to what I mean by those things – I suspect some of my definitions would be unacceptable to some continuationists and some cessationists would be unhappy at my labelling of phenomena they readily acknowledge this way). But there is something I don’t expect to see today. I do not expect to see the Lord working miracles through individuals today. Now, I want to be clear that I do believe that the Lord may work miracles as he chooses today. But I do not believe that the Lord will work miracles through any given individual today. That is, I don’t expect people to be able to wave their hand and the lame jump up and walk. The Lord may miraculously grant healing as he chooses – I don’t think anything is impossible for him – but I wouldn’t expect to see an individual touch someone or wave their hand, and for that person to jump up and walk, a non-existent limb to reappear, or a dead person come back to life.’