How Should We Read the Early Church Fathers?

One of the great challenges as a Protestant is to know and understand how we came to be. The Reformation is our roots in history, but the Bible is our root in theology. Simply put, to be Protestant means you leave the man-made teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and look towards Scripture as your authority for faith and practice.

Why do I make this point when talking about the Early Church Fathers (ECF)? It is simple. Catholics tend to put an inordinate amount of weight and authority in the ECF. They do this to the point of elevating their writings to the level of Scripture. However, they will tell you that they do not do this. Yet, when shown their interpretation is incorrect Biblically, they will say, “But Origen said…” or “But Iraneus argued….” or “But Clement states…” and so on. When you simply say they are wrong, and point out the error, they will say that are we to know better than those that sat under the Apostles?

This, of course, is a logical fallacy. It is an appeal to authority. However, there is no authority there.

We do not hold that the ECF were infallible. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that the ECF, or the church today, including the Pope, are infallible in any way (though the Catholics will try to argue that there is). So how are we to use the ECF?

The answer to this is not difficult. We should use the ECF as we use any other commentary. It is useful for study and instruction but must always be tested against the Scriptures. The Scriptures and Scriptures alone have the final say in all matters of faith and practice. The ECF did get things wrong, and often, they even contradicted each other. Scripture, on the other hand, has no contradictions. It is the perfect and holy words of God.

So while we should read the Fathers, we should not elevate their work to the level of Scripture.

Albert Mohler to be Nominated For SBC Presidency

I have a deep love for the Southern Baptist Convention. My grandmother was a Southern Baptist and though I did not attend a Southern Baptist Church as a kid, I did go to SBC vacation Bible schools and activities. I was raised on the Baptist Hymnal in my Grandmother’s kitchen.

At the beginning of my adult ministry, I was a youth pastor at a Southern Baptist Church. I went to a school that is in alignment with Southern Baptists. And even though I attend a United Methodist Church due to location, I am Baptist through and through.

I was disheartened when I saw J.D. Greear elected to be the president of the SBC. I understand the choice and why he ascended to the role. However, I have real reservations about some comments he has made and positions that he has taken in the past.

This year, however, I was encouraged to see that Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said that he will accept a nomination to be the new president of the SBC.

Mohler is a conservative. Make no mistake about this. He is a champion for theological fidelity to Scripture. He is no stranger to controversy in making hard shifts to the conservative right when liberal theology is creeping in. If you doubt this, just look at what happened at Southern in the early 90’s.

This is the type of leader that the Southern Baptist Convention needs. They need a leader who will stand up to the current trends of liberalism that are creeping into the church. They need a man of God who will stand up for Scripture. I firmly believe that Mohler is that man.

The (Sad) State of Christianity

I have been witness to things over the years that makes my skin crawl. The state of the church universal, but particularly in the United States and Europe, is appalling. 500 years ago, Martin Luther sparked a Reformation that would forever change the course of church and human history. His courage and steadfastness in his search for truth is inspiring and served the church well. God did, and continues to use Luther in a mighty way.

However, today we are in need of reformation again. The church is falling back into darkness. We see a renewal to have bonds with the Roman Catholic Church that continues in its heresy. We see the rise of LGBT sympathizers in the church defying God and His created order. We see prosperity gospel being preached through the lands. We see the gifts of tongues being abused and falsified.

While all of this is happening we see the church losing the culture. Christianity is no longer an acceptable position in the eyes of the culture. This is nobody’s fault but the church. We have lost our way. We are more worried about appeasing the lost rather than telling the truth to the lost. We cater our church services to the lost which leaves us with shallow theology in the service leading to theological illiteracy in the pew.

Scripture has also lost its place as the source of truth that we are to live by. Science, which changes frequently, has replaced the Bible. Evolution is the mantra of the day despite the fact it goes directly against logic and what the Creator has told us happened. Are we really that wise? No.

Paul tells us in Romans that because we defy God we are left to our own ways. Professing ourselves, the human race, to be wise, we are becoming fools.

Where is the church? Where are the godly leaders? Where is Scripture? Why are we not fighting back? Are we afraid? Or do we just not care?

Church it is time for a new reformation. We must bring back biblical standards and authority. We must bring back rich theology. We must rediscover that the church is to feed the believers so that we can go out and preach to the lost. Stand up church!

Book Review: Can We Trust The Gospels?

Can We Trust The Gospels? by Peter J. Williams, is the latest work in a whole line of works that seek to explain the reasons we have for confidence in the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ. This is a subject that has any number of works written both for and against the validity of the Gospel books in the New Testament.

Williams’ book is masterfully written with a fresh new look at the topic. He incorporates new evidence from archaeology from the last 50 years that demonstrates even further that we can, in fact, trust the Gospel accounts as both historically accurate and spiritually fulfilling.

Williams starts out by exploring the testimony of Non-Christian sources and their take on the Gospel accounts. He finds that they match with precision. If the Gospel writers were putting forth lies about these events, why would the secular sources reference and agree with these same events?

Williams also tackles the question, which books are true Gospels? What is to be included? He puts historical measures for this process in place as well as church acceptance throughout history.

A large emphasis is also put on the knowledge of the Gospel writers themselves. The writers knew their geography. They knew the culture. They knew specific events and names. There are things that are in the Gospels that could not be known if you were not intimately acquainted with the culture and locations in which the Gospel accounts take place.

Another area of focus is whether or not we have the actual words of Christ within the Gospels. A persuasive case is made that we do indeed have the actual words of Christ based on the strong culture of oral tradition that was present in the first century. He also addresses perceived contradictions in the text which are mostly due to people ignoring the fact that words can have multiple meanings.

The final chapter of the book is titled, “Who Would Make All This Up?” This, of course, is a key question. The stories contained in the Gospel were not safe stories to portray in the time immediately following Christ’s death and resurrection. The fact that these people were willing to put their lives on the line gives further authenticity to their message.

Overall, Can We Trust the Gospels? is a delightful, easy and quick read. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the area of apologetics and also anyone who would like to deepen their faith in the validity of the Scriptures.

I received this book free from the Publisher, Crossway, in exchange for an honest and fair review.

If Not Scripture…Then What?


People question the Inerrancy of Scripture and say that Scripture is not our final authority because much of it is not relevant today. We hear things like “Come on, it is 2019!” First, that is an absurd argument. The year may be 2019 but the Bible is still relevant. The Bible is still in force. Sin has not changed. Salvation has not changed.

But if we are not to look at the Scripture as our final authority, I must ask, what should we look at? What has more authority than Scripture for the Christian? Is it science which often changes and/or contradicts itself? Is it culture which changes as quickly as the wind? Is it reason that can explain and justify anything? Is it politics? What should we look to?

Do you see the absurdity of this? The only thing that we should be anchored in as Christians is the Word of God. After all, He made all that exists so I believe He is the most authoritative source on any given subject.

You would not go up to the maker of a machine and say, “What you use this for is not what this is meant for.” That would be absurd. But that is exactly what we do when we tell God that the Bible is no longer applicable today because it is outdated.

No, the Bible is God’s truth. The truth. We don’t get to make our own truth. The Bible Stands. I am reminded of the lyrics of that great song by the same name and I will leave you with them.

The Bible stands like a rock undaunted
’Mid the raging storms of time;
Its pages burn with the truth eternal,
And they glow with a light sublime.

Refrain:
The Bible stands though the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands.

The Bible stands like a mountain tow’ring
Far above the works of men;
Its truth by none ever was refuted,
And destroy it they never can.

The Bible stands and it will forever,
When the world has passed away;
By inspiration it has been given,
All its precepts I will obey.

The Bible stands every test we give it,
For its Author is divine;
By grace alone I expect to live it,
And to prove and to make it mine.

Haldor Lillenas “The Bible Stands” 1917 Public Domain

People Are Broken

I recently read an article that suggests that humanity is not broken. That we are perfect just the way we are. I am sorry but that is not what Scripture tells us. In fact, it tells us just the opposite.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 ESV

We are not perfect. We are sinners. To suggest that we are perfect you must live blind to the things that go on in this world. Sin is abundant. We are a broken people.

This is what happens when we have a low-view of Scripture. When we don’t believe that Scripture is the Word of God. Everything becomes distorted. Lines are no longer visible. Everything is ok.

But we know that the Bible is the Word of God because of 2 Timothy 3:16. It does not say some Scripture is God’s, it says all Scripture. And that includes the passages that say we are not perfect just the way we are. We are broken.

The article was in direct relation to LGBTQ. In fact, the quote from the article says:

Because the truth is simple: We’re all divinely created. We’re perfect just the way we are. Me. You. Your annoying [edit] neighbor. All of us. We’re valuable.

God doesn’t love us in spite of who we are. He loves us BECAUSE of who we are. Gaiety & all.

There is, of course, some truth in this statement. Yes, we are all divinely created, all of us, and we are all valuable. That is not under dispute. But we are not perfect. And it certainly is not true that God loves us because of who we are. We are sinners. God only loves us because of who HE is.

Here I Stand: Traditional Plan Passes

Today the United Methodist Church stands on truth. Truth that God does not affirm the LGBT lifestyle and that they are not to be married nor have leadership positions in the church. This is biblical. This is truth.

I am reminded when Martin Luther was asked to renounce his stance on biblical truth in the face of more progressive theology. He said that he could not go against conscience. Then he said those famous words, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

In the days and weeks to come, we will be attacked. We will be attacked saying that we are doing great harm to people who see themselves as LGBTQ. But that is not the truth. The truth is sin harms. We are showing love by showing we are not going to allow the sin to reign but beg you to come to repentance.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

We are just days away from the Special General Conference for the United Methodist Church on whether the church will follow Scripture or follow culture. Yes, that is the real choice. Is the United Methodist Church going to follow God or man? That is what is at stake.

I read an article yesterday entitled “I Am Not Leaving”. The article is a heartfelt call for unity and to continue to work of Christ despite differences in the Denomination. On the surface, this even sounds biblical. But is it really? Should we stay in a church no matter what they teach, preach, or believe? The answer is no.

I have already written about this previously. We should not have unity simply for the sake of unity. Paul makes this clear:


As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.

Titus 3:10 ESV

Paul is clear, have nothing more to do with them. To get the further context of this passage we need to look in chapter two. The context is important so we know that this is not just having nothing to do with someone causing a disturbance. This has to do with doctrine.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Titus 2:1 ESV

Church is about teaching sound doctrine to the saints so that they can carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Doctrine does matter despite what some who call for unity try to claim. The Scripture must be faithfully and accurately proclaimed. Sound doctrine is of utmost importance for the spiritual health of the believer.

If the church adopts LGBTQ culture then believers must leave. They must exit. They must take a stand for the Word of God and not the words of men.

Does Inerrancy Matter?

This is a question that comes up over and over again. The simple answer is, yes, inerrancy matters. But why? This post will not go into the intricate details of inerrancy. This is not the proper format for such an undertaking. The purpose here is to look at some logic regarding the truth of Scripture and the issue of inerrancy.

The Bible is to be the guiding light for Christians. The Bible gives us the truth on every facet of life that you can imagine. Now, it doesn’t give us guidance on whether or not we should wear a purple shirt or a green shirt today, that is not what we mean when we say every facet of life. But what we mean is that every situation you encounter has principles in Scripture that will help you work out a right attitude and response to that situation. And this is where inerrancy comes into play.

First, we need to define inerrancy as it relates to Scripture. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy defines inerrancy as follows:

Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching…

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy 1980

Scripture is without any error in everything that it teaches. That means it is without fault in its historical statements, theological statements, scientific statements, and any other statement the Bible makes. This, of course, refers to the original manuscripts and not any specific translation of Scripture.

So what? Why does this matter? Let’s think about it this way, if you can take any part of the Bible, let’s say Genesis, and says that it contains error, then you call the rest of Scripture into question. Scripture builds on itself. Yes, it is a collection of 66 different works but those works (books) give one unifying message and they stand on each other.

If you can call into question the account in Genesis, you can call into question the accounts of Jesus Christ. At that point, you call into question the exclusivity of Salvation for Christians and Christians alone. After that, you can throw out any part of the Bible that does not agree with modern thought.

It is a dangerous slope. You either take all of Scripture or you throw it all out. Inerrancy is one of the most fundamental beliefs that impact the Gospel today.