Do You Want To Build A Strawman?

October 15, 2016

Here at Ten4Word we have a commitment to write in an irenic fashion. Not to suggest that we will take a soft line on a hard issue but rather to shy away from letting our arrogance bleed into our discussions on theological differences.strawman-full

Normally when refuting strawmen I engage in a polemic style of writing because, well, I believe it drives the point home in a clearer way and I’ve read too much Luther.

This series will be one in which I try and tackle some serious objections about Calvinism without using my oh-so-favorite, “Romans 9. NEXT!” The objections to my refutations will in no way be new but I believe in healthy dialogue about extremely important issues because it forces us into deeper and richer study of the Word. If nothing else is accomplished during our time together I pray that, at the very least, we can walk away with a tad more insight and a stronger thirst for studying the things of God.

This first article will be a preamble because I believe that I should set the context of where I come from theologically and why it is I “chose” to grab the digital pen and spill some ink (I feel that this important so as to disarm the “you just read through Calvinistic lenses and need to set aside everything you’ve been taught” comments).


When being introduced to the Calvinistic doctrine best represented by the TULIP acronym I, like many others, had many serious questions. Most of the comments I made against the position involved words like “robots”, “WHOSOEVER!’, and phrases like, “Stop putting God in your box!”. After lots of prayer, careful consideration of the texts presented, hours of reading dead guys, watching YouTube debates, and healthy, heated dialogue with my brother Josh, I have come, by Gods grace, to affirm these truths. Here I stand, I can do no other.

I will be laying out some of the most popular misunderstandings I’ve come across, and made, against TULIP. Please understand that I did not come to understand Gods sovereignty lightly; on the contrary I have fought tooth and nail clinging to mans autonomous free will-it’s what man does best.

The main motivating factor for me taking up this little venture was a horrid and disgusting “sermon” I had the displeasure of tuning my senses to recently. This was a sermon preached at a church which counts about 10,000 souls walking through the doors every week. My initial reaction to the opening five minutes was to jump out of my chair and scream “Servetus!” as loud as I could. I, however, stifled my emotions and began to think on why these men would say what they’re saying

I know that many of my reformed brethren have already, and will continue to, write about the enormous men-made-of-straw that these two gentlemen took time to build for their audience but I felt that I would attack this from a different angle. I want to go through some of the things that most people in mainline evangelical Christianity feel about this beloved doctrine today instead of systematically dismantling the gross misrepresentation of our position in the hour long drivel fest that I had to suffer through the other night. My prayer is to clear up some confusion and speak the truth which alienates some and encourages others.

There are two things that I’m sure of at the outset of writing this: 1) I will in no way be saying things that have not been said for hundreds of years by men much more wise than I and 2) these arguments will not be good enough for most of the ardent anti-Calvinist apologists. I rest in the fact that God will enlighten who He enlightens and leave ignorant those who He leaves ignorant.

If you haven’t been too offended as of yet than you are one of the chosen to join us next time when we talk about how wretchedly depraved man is. Until then I leave you with this quote from a man that understood baptism, Charles Spurgeon: “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”




No Justice; No Peace

July 11, 2016

No justice; no peace.


It is one of the most natural aspects of humanity to demand justice. There is an innate sense of right and wrong so much so that as people we form societies on ought’s and ought-not’s. When the ought-not’s take place we demand that justice be administered so as to balance the scales and set things right in society. In fact, justice is one of the most recognized ought’s in human culture. It is an objective standard that we appeal to when an ought-not takes place. We demand justice when someone violates our rights or the rights of other people and that is a good and right thing for us to do.


The reason for this is because we are created in the image of God who is Just. Justice is a standard that lies outside of the realm of subjective preferences. We know that when a man breaks into another man’s home and takes something that does not belong to him, or when one man takes the life of another man, that there must be some sort of retribution to pay. This is due to the simple fact that God has ingrained in us the sense of “good” and “evil”—we are moral creatures.


Peace is also a common desire that humans share. Justice and peace are not exclusive; rather they flow from one another. We demand justice because it is a disruption of peace, and when we have peace it is because people are acting just towards one another and injustice is punished. The oft repeated mantra being recited through the streets of New Orleans and other places in the country right now is, therefore, a worthy and noble saying. It is right to say that when there is no justice, there is no peace.



Unfortunately the ones protesting in this way (or at least the ones I’ve witnessed on social media and various news outlets) do not have the proper framework from which to consistently hold to this view. If they did, we would see these protests being done in a much different way. It is strikingly ironic when the ones calling for justice are the very ones promoting injustice. I understand that the point they are making is that they will not let peace reign unless justice prevails. Yet the injustice is being leveled against commuters on highways and against the citizens in the neighborhoods where these marches are taking place, and that is not being taken into consideration. In other words, you cannot hold a group of people to a standard that you are not willing to live by. The old argument of, “They did it first!” is not one made from a sense of justice or out of a duty to pursue peace.


Christianity is the only worldview from which we can draw the ideas of justice or peace. It is because of the Triune God of the Bible and the fact that He has created that we can look at things and say to ourselves, “that isn’t right”. Without this foundation, the cries for justice and the pursuit of peace have no chance of sustaining a movement. Justice and peace as ideas will fail to be maintained because they will be built on the shadow of what they are and not the substance of what they are. Human philosophy and tradition is empty whereas Christ is the fullness of deity dwelling bodily (Colossians 2:8-10). Jesus is the prototypical image of God and as such He represents the epitome of justice and of peace. Christ suffered the worst offense of injustice in order to provide peace for His people by defeating His enemies and over coming the grave. It is once we establish our worldviews on those facts that we can plead for justice and offer hurting people peace.


The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was also the purest expression of justice that there will ever be. God demonstrated His justice by pouring out His wrath against injustice on Jesus instead of on His people. This had to be done because God cannot wink at sin, justice must be administered. If we, as mere humans, can feel such outrage when men commit atrocious acts of injustice, how much more when men commit atrocious acts of injustice against the Just One. Why do we feel the need to call for justice lest there be no peace, when in the very same breath we violate the Law of God and therefore commit an eternally unjust act?

In order to rightly call for justice we must understand it. Majority of the people marching to this phrase simply do not have that understanding, which is why the calls for justice will fail and peace will always elude them. The protestor’s first need to have their unjust acts dealt with before they can operate in a just way.


It is true that unless there be justice, there will be no peace.


Biblical Theology

The King and Us

February 11, 2016

The Bible is a story of kingship.

Kingship frames the whole thing. The the very first chapter of the Bible shows us mankind given the specific vocation of taking dominion over creation (Gen. 1:26). The very last chapter, the account of the new creation, climaxes with the statement that the servants of God “will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5). If ruling over creation was the original intention and the goal that is finally met, we can probably assume that everything in between ties into that theme in some way.

Sure enough, kingship is also the center and highpoint: The anointed King, Jesus, exalted to reign at God’s right hand (Acts 2:34-36). This is the gospel that was promised beforehand (Isa. 40:9-11; Isa. 52:7), the Son of David and Son of God who calls for obedience among all the nations (Rom. 1:3-5).

Kingship is included as a blessing of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 17:6), and is central to the plot of the Old Testament from the refrain in Judges (“there was no king in Israel”) to the establishment of the monarchy under Saul, to the life of the messiah David who composed royal psalms, to the glory of Solomon who receives tribute from the nations (2 Kings 4:21), sits on the throne of Yahweh (1 Chron. 29:23), and writes to his “son” a book of instruction in royal wisdom (Prov. 8:15), to the many wicked and righteous kings of Israel and Judah who usher in the exile, with the prophets all the while promising a better King to come (e.g., Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5; Mic. 5:2-5). The kingdoms under the whole heaven being given to the saints of the Most High in their head, the Son of Man, is the great vision of Daniel (Dan. 7:13-14; Dan. 7:27), and it is this theme that the nativity story consistently highlights (Matt. 2:2; Luke 1:32-33).

This theme is perhaps the most all-encompassing in the biblical narrative. It’s the story of the image of God. God rules over creation and creates man—Adam, his son—in his image to rule over creation in his name, with wisdom, true righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:24). When man fails, God sends his true Image (Heb. 1:3, Col. 1:15) to restore the image of God in man. It’s in the restoration of this image after cleansing from sin that our salvation consists (Rom. 8:29).

I say all this as introduction.

It’s an essential but often overlooked context in which to understand the “practical” sections of Paul’s epistles. Take for example Colossians 3:1-17. That passage is a classic of “practical religion.” It’s a passage in which we’re told what to do, but does this based on the reality of our re-creation in God’s image, which is a royal image.

Here’s how the text begins:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Think on the things above, not things on the land. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life is manifested, you also will be manifested with him in glory.” (Col. 3:1-4)

What is the command? It is to “seek” (the word means pursue or seek to obtain) “the things that are above,” and to “set your mind on” or “think about” these things.

What are those “things that are above”? We are told that they are associated with Christ being seated at God’s right hand, and they are contrasted with “things upon the earth.” It would be a mistake, though, to assume that these “things upon the earth” are the mundane things or secular things and endeavors, as though we are being called to some kind of monkish asceticism. That would be a mistake, because ascetic avoidance of the mundane in the name of religion is specifically rebuked in the previous verses (Col. 2:20-23), and because the “things upon the earth” are explained in 3:5 as various sins, not “earthly” or secular activities. 

In other words, we are not to seek or set our minds on sin, but on the things above, where Christ is ruling at God’s right hand. Christ rules there in wisdom, righteousness, and holiness. That is what we are to seek after and set our minds on: The image of God, so that we administer and reflect the rule of Christ the king in the world: That God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The reason given for this command is that we have been raised with Christ (Col 3:1, “If then you were raised…”). We were raised with him and seated with him in heavenly places. This is a position of rule and authority, and so it reinforces the point that setting our mind on things above, where Christ is reigning, involves our practicing that rule in the world now. We are to do this in hope, knowing that our true life is hidden with Christ and will be manifested with him—in glory. Glory, another hint that this passage should be understood within the context of rule in God’s image. We are to learn the humility and wisdom of the rule of Christ now, because we will ultimately reign with him.

This understanding of the passage is born out in the exhortations in the following verses (Col. 3:9-10), where we are called to put off the old man (Adam) and put on the new man (Christ) – the new man which is specifically said to be renewed “in the image of its Creator.” The phrase, taken from Genesis, speaks of rule and dominion.

It’s important to emphasize that our original human calling, to have dominion over creation, a calling renewed and empowered by the gospel, is one of “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col. 3:12). It’s a rule that must look like Christ’s: Love, humility, service, and if necessary suffering and death for the sake of faithfulness to God. It’s remarkable and worth noting here that as prescribed in the Law, the king of Israel’s primary job was to model humility (Deut. 17:19-20). This, of course, is what Jesus fulfilled (Phil. 2:5-7), and what we are called to imitate. That is the path by which we can hope to find ourselves among his servants in Revelation 22:5, reigning with him forever.

It’s the knowledge that we are kings and queens in training that should inform our living now. Paul assumes this for the Corinthians (1 Cor. 6:1-3), and it’s the assumption that underlies the practical exhortations of the New Testament.