Islam 12: Christianity Quiz

We interrupt the series of blog posts on Islam. If you have been following, and if you have comprehended the blog posts so far, you, and hopefully your Muslim contacts, should be able to answer these questions. Quiz yourselves and your families, especially your teenagers in Heidelberg/Essentials catechism class. How well do you understand the Christian faith? Could you prove these important teachings from scripture? 

Part 1: the Trinity

TRUE OR FALSE?

  1. Christians believe in three gods?
  2. Christians believe that the Son of God is a creature?
  3. Christians believe that there are three Creators?
  4. Christians believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one person?
  5. Christians believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three beings?
  6. Christians believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each one third of God?
  7. Christians believe that when Jesus was on the earth, there was no God in heaven?
  8. Christians believe that Mary is a god?
  9. Christians believe that the Father came before the Son and the Holy Spirit?
  10. Christians believe that the Father and the Holy Spirit have physical bodies?
  11. Christians believe the Father first created the Son, who then helped him create the world?
  12. Christians believe that the Father and the Son created the Holy Spirit?
  13. Christians worship only the Father, and do not worship the Son or the Holy Spirit?
  14. Christians believe that the Father adopted the Son at his baptism in the river Jordan, at which point he became God's Son?
  15. Christians believe that Jesus became the Son of God when he was born into the world?
  16. Christians believe that to become a father, God took a wife through whom he bore a son?

 

Part 2: The Incarnation

TRUE OR FALSE?

  1. Christians believe that when the Son of God became a man he was no longer God’s Son?
  2. Christians believe that during his life on earth the Son possessed no divine attributes?
  3. Christians believe that the Son of God was always human, even before the incarnation?
  4. Christians believe that because Mary is the mother of Jesus, she should be worshipped?
  5. Christians believe that the human nature of Jesus consists only of a human body, but not of a human soul?
  6. Christians believe that because Jesus is human and divine, he is or has two persons?
  7. Christians believe that Jesus has one nature?
  8. Christians believe that the qualities of one nature also belong to the other nature in Jesus? For example, Christians believe that the body of Jesus is omnipotent and omnipresent, like his divine nature?
  9. Christians believe that, because Jesus was hungry, thirsty and tired, he was not really God?
  10. Christians believe that, because Jesus suffered and died, he was not really God?
  11. Christians believe that, because Jesus performed miracles, understood the secret thoughts of men, and was worshipped, he was not really human?
  12. Christians believe that Jesus did not really have a human nature; he just seemed to?
  13. Christians believe that the human nature of Jesus was corrupted with sin?
  14. Christians believe that Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience and that he never sinned?
  15. Christians believe that, as a human being, Jesus was obligated to keep God’s Law?
  16. Christians believe that the Son of God on earth prayed to God?

 

Part 3: Sin and Salvation

TRUE OR FALSE?

  1. Christians believe that God tolerates sin and turns a blind eye to it?
  2. Christians believe that God only punishes “serious” sins such as murder or adultery?
  3. Christians believe that the penalty for sin is death?
  4. Christians believe in total depravity, which means that man is totally corrupt, unable to do anything good, and inclined to all evil?
  5. Christians believe that the sin which Adam committed in the Garden affected only Adam?
  6. Christians believe that all human beings are born good, but they become sinful because of their environment?
  7. Christians believe that it is possible to do enough good works in order to earn salvation?
  8. Christians believe that God accepts a work as truly “good” if it is sincere?
  9. Christians believe that a truly good work must be done out of faith to God’s glory?
  10. Christians believe that, because sinners could not save themselves, the Son came to be the Savior?
  11. Christians believe that Jesus obeyed the Law of God in the place of his people because they could not perfectly obey it themselves?
  12. Christians believe that Jesus carried the penalty of the Law of God in the place of his people because they could not carry that penalty themselves?
  13. Christians believe that the penalty that Jesus carried is the wrath (anger) and curse of God?
  14. Christians believe that the Father forced Jesus to carry that penalty against his will?
  15. Christians believe only Jesus was qualified to carry that penalty because he is God in human flesh?

________________

For the answers to these questions, visit the Islam 11 blog post.

________________

This post was written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

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The Standard Bearer - Watch!

The call is URGENT to KNOW and to LOVE the truth of scripture. Our prayer is that the Standard Bearer may be used to that end.

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Ten Technological Traps

We live in a time of great technological advancement. Companies are constantly churning out new products that are hailed as smarter, more advanced, and more innovative. And in many ways we have made ourselves dependent on technology with our smartphones, tablets, and computers, too name just a few.

There is nothing inherently sinful in these things. In fact, they can be powerful tools for good in the service of God and his church, and therefore we can use them with a good conscience before God. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4-5).

That being said, we ought to recognize that there are many dangers that these wonders of the technological age present. These dangers ought to make us careful in our use of these good gifts.

What follows are a list of ten such dangers, “traps” of technology:

  1. We can waste an unbelievable amount of time using technology. How many hours are wasted staring at the TV, pursuing pointless information on the internet, looking at pictures on Instagram, and posting on Facebook? Too many, making this one of the top traps of technology.
  2. Technology makes it relatively easy to sin. This is not to say that the same sins weren’t found fifty years ago, for they certainly were. But with technology there are more opportunities to sin and sinful things are more readily accessible. As a wise saint said to me recently, “When I was younger, you had to work pretty hard to get in trouble and access sinful things. Now you can get it in a few seconds on your phone.”
  3. We can very easily become discontent through our use of technology. One area of discontentment is with the technology itself. We are dissatisfied with the smartphone or computer that we have and are always looking for something newer, better, and faster. It becomes an idol in our life. Another area of discontentment is with the things that we view through technology. Seeing the glamorous life of this athlete/actress/friend, I become discontented with my seemingly boring life.
  4. Technology is often the means by which we backbite and slander. One wrong move and soon the news spreads like wildfire across the gossip channels of text messaging and social media.
  5. Through our use of technology we often give a poor witness to the world of our faith. We post pictures of some ungodly musician’s concert we attended. We “like” this popular drama on TV. We let everyone know how excited we are about the release of the latest Hollywood movie.
  6. It is very easy through technology to fall into the trap of unreality. We see pictures of the expensive vacations and fun activities that others are doing, and think that their life must be perfect. Young people might give the impression that anyone who’s anything is hanging out on Friday night, so that the one left at home feels left out and friendless.
  7. In the age of instant information, it seems as if younger generations are losing the ability to read, write, listen, and think critically and deeply.
  8. Our use of technology can weaken our ability to converse and thus hurt our relationships to others. It seems pretty common to go into a restaurant and see a husband and wife sitting across from one another, both staring at their phones. It seems pretty common to try and have a conversation with a teenager while their face is buried in their phone.
  9. There is the danger with technology of over-sharing information. I’m all for getting to know other people better and sharing their joys and sorrows. But I don’t need to know what you just ate for breakfast. I don’t need to know a disagreement that you had with your spouse. I don’t need to know that you’re angry at your coworkers. I don’t need to know (usually) that you’re having an all-around bad day.
  10. One of the dangers of technology is that we are able to retreat into a world without any accountability. When we are at work, we have the accountability of employers and employees. When we are at home, we have the accountability of spouses, parents, children, siblings. When we are at school, we have the accountability of teachers and classmates. But with technology we can often enter a world with little or no accountability. We can say things that we wouldn’t ordinarily say. We can sneak off to our bedroom and watch all sorts of vile things. And if anyone looks over our shoulder or asks to see our device, we hide behind the vault-door of passwords.

What do you think? Are there other traps to avoid?

___________________

This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section.

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IN REVIEW: The Reformed Baptism Form

The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary, by B. Wielenga (Edited by David J. Engelsma and translated by Annemie Godbehere). Jenison, MI: RFPA 2016. 448 pages. $39.95 Hardcover. [Reviewed by Rev. Martyn McGeown]

The publication of this book will interest—and even excite—all those who love baptism, and in particular, all those who love the Form for the Administration of Baptism used in Reformed churches. Many church members and officebearers have heard the Form read, or have used the Form, hundreds of times as baptism has been administered to the covenant seed. But have we sufficiently pondered the beautiful language of the Form?

Bastiaan Wielenga (1873-1949) was a Dutch Reformed minister who not only studied the Form, but who loved the Form, and delighted in its clear, Reformed, biblical, devotional, and pastoral language. He wrote the commentary on the Form not for scholars, but for the ordinary child of God who loves the covenant and the God of the covenant. The RFPA has done the Reformed church world a great service by offering this book—the first English translation of a commentary on this priceless liturgical form—to the reading public.

Wielenga carefully explains (even exegetes) the language of the Form, dividing his material according to the divisions of the Form itself, the doctrinal section (misery, deliverance, and gratitude), a defence of infant baptism, the prayer before baptism, the questions to the parents, and the prayer of thanksgiving after baptism. However, he does not treat the section on the baptism of adults, which, although used on the mission field, is used less frequently in the established church.

Some of the outstanding features of the commentary are the following.

First, Wielenga’s writing is devotional. Wielenga is a very capable theologian and exegetes with the heart and language of a pastor, and even of a poet. The beautiful and moving passages in Wielenga’s writings are so numerous that a reviewer could not possibly do justice to them. Credit for this, of course, must also go to the translator, Mrs. Annemie Godbehere, with whom the reviewer was personally acquainted. Undoubtedly, it was her skill that helped bring Wielenga to life for an English readership. One example of Wielenga’s beautiful turns of phrase will suffice. In this quotation, Wielenga is explaining the need believers have for assurance and the richness of God’s supply in holy baptism:

Do we still need another seal? Does this confirmation need to be confirmed again? The seal sealed?
Yes, it must—because the Lord knows his people. He knows how they lack courage and how feeble they are. He knows that man, because he is in his own existence deceitful, distrusts and disbelieves others, even God.
Hence the Lord God, if he will ever see the mansions filled in his paternal home, cannot be stingy with promises, oaths, and seals. An overflowing source of assurances must let its streams of grace overflow the weak believer. Indeed, our covenantal God repeats his manifold declarations so many times that man, if he were less pathetic, with a dark purple blush of shame about his obstinacy would call out, “Lord, I do believe you; yes, Lord, it is enough, I know it already.”

Because it is exactly the opposite, and the godly constantly ask for stronger assurance, the cry of “Help thou mine unbelief!” does not grow silent before death closes their lips. Thereby God, who takes more pity on us than an earthly father, seals the covenant of grace in baptism. Even with this, he does not account the measure of his undergirding grace full, for in the Lord’s supper he has joined a second and no less royal and divine seal to the covenant (72-73).

Second, Wielenga’s doctrine of the covenant is (mostly) orthodox and mainly in line with our Protestant Reformed understanding. Although he does slip into “agreement” language on occasion, and although he does make a few statements on conditionality within the covenant with which we strongly disagree, Wielenga does view the covenant as an intimate relationship between God and his elect people. “That the Father establishes a covenant with us and adopts us as his children is intimate. That Christ makes us members of his spiritual body is even more intimate. But that the Spirit comes to dwell in us is the most intimate conceivable intimacy” (103).

But baptism, this holy baptism, is a seal and indubitable testimony that we have an eternal covenant with God. It is a covenant not entered into for a time, but rooted in an eternal election. It is a covenant not established on the proof of and dependent on the goodness of men, but anchored in the mediatorial heart of Christ who paid for all the sins of his people and accomplished all obedience.

Note, this is the power and beauty of Reformed doctrine as it shines brilliantly in our form: salvation not promised conditionally, but absolutely guaranteed! (143).

There are places where Wielenga slips into conditional language, but they do not appear so frequently as to mar the book. The astute reader will take note of them.

Third, Wielenga defends that view of covenant children which regards them as regenerate in infancy, and as partakers of a real, spiritual, and not merely external, holiness. This view does justice to God’s promises, rightly explains the language of the Form, and gives great hope to Reformed parents in the rearing of their children. “Just as the children, included in Adam, their covenantal head, are partakers of an internal depravity, so also are the children, included in Christ, partakers of an internal regeneration and holiness” (155). “The compilers of this form also did not regard the children of the congregation as spiritually dead but as spiritually alive” (220). “We are certain that any view other than that of an internal sanctification is out of place in the baptism form and is also not in keeping with the doctrine of the covenant that predominated in the church of the Reformation” (326).

If this child, shortly after baptism, came to die, the parents, if they have come to understand something of the eternal comfort in life and death, may find in this baptism a ground for the hope that their early-deceased darling entered into glory. If the child grows up, the parents may proceed with the rearing from the supposition, or if this word displeases you, from the hope, the quiet expectation, that the God of the covenant has already laid the new germ of life into the child’s heart (407-408).

Wielenga regards the opposite view as Methodism, a Methodism increasingly common in Reformed circles today:

In contrast to the Methodist, who in the rearing only focuses on conversion, making of Sunday school and Christian education a conversion institute, the Reformed parent, who has learned to live out of the covenant, prayerfully looks to the God of the covenant. He pleads the promises of the covenant for his child so that he increases and grows up in the Lord Jesus Christ (408).

Fourth, Wielenga discusses a good number of practical questions concerning the ceremony itself, and there are times when he is unsparing in his criticism of certain practices that had arisen in the churches of his day: should baptism be delayed until the mother recovers or until relatives from out of town can arrive; who should hold the baby; how many times should the water be applied, once or thrice; and should the minister say “Amen” after the baptism? Although some of these matters are historical curiosities to us, some of them are still serious issues today.

Not out of custom! May this reverberate in our ranks. Let us battle against the great enemy of all spiritual life, called custom; against this large monster, which in its cold embrace spiritually smothers thousands—and by its icy breath spiritually murders thousands (286).

Every young parent—especially the fathers, who seek baptism for their children in the consistory room—would do well to read this book. It would be worthwhile for married couples to read this book as they rear the covenant seed. And it would warm the hearts of all Reformed church members to read this book carefully and devotionally, whether they have children or not, for the doctrine of the covenant and of salvation is the joy of our souls.

Reader, may the fruit of the joint contemplation of our precious baptism form be that the word with which this prayer and thus our entire form concludes may find in all our hearts a warm echo. That is to say, on all these truths, promises, and admonitions, may your whole soul pray and worship. Amen (425).

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Called to Watch


Called to Watch for Christ's Return

written by Martyn McGeown

A few days before Jesus gave his life on the cross, his disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3). Christ responded with the Olivet Discourse, a detailed teaching on the doctrine of the last things.

We need to understand the signs of Christ’s coming for our comfort as we look for “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

 

 

 

 

Retail: $14.95

Book Club: $9.72 USA, $10.46 International

304 pages
softcover

ebook version available

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Heartily Believing Sound Doctrine (2)

That it is the calling of every member of the church to promote sound doctrine, reject false doctrine and live in holiness of life is the topic of today’s post.

That “sound doctrine” (I Tim. 1:10) or “good doctrine” (I Tim. 4:6) is important is evident from the fact that the word “doctrine” or “teaching” is used 48 times in the New Testament. Timothy was exhorted to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:2-4).

God uses the means of “a love of the truth” (sound doctrine) to save his people (II Thess. 2:10-13) and preserve his church in this world. In our day of the great “falling away”, those without this love of sound doctrine are swept away with the lie. Rev. Thomas Miersma made this connection between sound doctrine and the well-being of the church in a Standard Bearer article many years ago:

For, you see, a love of the truth, a fervent zeal for faithfulness in doctrine according to the Word of God, for orthodoxy in doctrine and practice, is never a cause of trouble. On the contrary, we read in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Not doctrine, not a careful attention to God's Word, His law, and its meaning, destroy the church, but lack of it. Not fine distinctions concerning the truth of God and His will, the fine points of doctrine and practice, but the lack of them, a spiritual indifference to God's Word, an empty shallow, superficial treatment of God's Word and its doctrine, a forgetting of His Word, that destroys the church. That is a matter of both the head, knowledge, and the heart, remembrance, for it is a matter of the assured knowledge of faith from which the confidence of faith also springs. (Standard Bearer, 3/1/1990)

Loving the truth (sound doctrine), believing and confessing it, the child of God then lives the Christian life. There is a direct connection between what we believe and how we live. We live what we love and believe in our hearts. Prof. Ronald Cammenga wrote on this connection between sound doctrine and the Christian life:

That connection is, first of all, that sound doctrine is the foundation of the Christian life. Apart from doctrine, knowing, believing, and confessing the doctrine, there is no possibility of living the Christian life. The true doctrine must be what motivates and guides us in our everyday life in the world. This is why the first duty of the faithful minister is to preach the doctrine, I Timothy 4:16. This is why the first duty of the believer is to receive the doctrine.

We see this connection between doctrine and life today. Ignorance of some of the most fundamental doctrines of the Word of God prevails in the churches. People perish for lack of knowledge; there is a famine of the Word of God. What is the result of this? The result of this doctrinal ignorance is unbelievable wickedness in the lives of the members of the church, disobedience to the commandments of God's law, and unholy living.

But there is another connection between doctrine and life. That connection is that the Christian's walk of life is the proof and evidence of the faith that he confesses. Belief of the truth necessarily shows itself in a godly walk. The true and complete doctrine that we acknowledge must be expressed in our daily life. And if the new and godly walk does not follow, it only indicates that our confession was a fraud. (Standard Bearer, 4/1/1987)

To maintain, as some do, that one can leave a church where the truth is purely preached and join a church where false doctrine is maintained (Reformed or not) and where heresy is not disciplined, and still live in holiness of life, is an impossibility. Departure from sound doctrine is itself the unholy walking down the path of apostasy. Apostasy inevitably leads to a deterioration of the Christian life, especially in the generations of those who leave the truth. Only repentance from this departure and a return to sound doctrine will result in a reformation of life. In principle, it is impossible to believe false doctrine and live a godly life.

Therefore, it is imperative that every member of the church heartily believes and confesses the sound doctrines of the Reformed faith and exerts himself in the rejection of “all heresies repugnant thereto,” and thus live in godliness of life. Let us not disparage sound doctrine by professing to believe it, being indifferent to it, and neglecting its study and defense. I end with a quote from Prof. Herman Hanko:

Nevertheless, the defense of the truth against false doctrine is essential, now also, even as it was in the day of Nehemiah. All the officebearers within our churches are bound to this by the Formula of Subscription in which they promise, “to refute and contradict all errors and to exert themselves in keeping the church free from such errors.” All the members of the church are bound to this same calling by the examples of the apostles and prophets and by the admonitions of the scriptures to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints. And to this calling we are urged by the testimony of the church of all ages. When the church failed in this aspect of her calling, her failure was marked by rapid decline and by a swift drift into false doctrine and worldly-mindedness. And when the church stood firm and uncompromising for the truth, she also prospered in her calling and in faithfulness to God.

The sword of the defense of the faith must be wielded carefully. It must be wielded in the seminary, in the pulpit, and by all God's people, even from their vantage point in the pew, for we all are engaged in the battle. It must be wielded by careful study of the truth, by appeal only to the scriptures as the rule for faith and life, with courage and fearlessness, but with meekness and fear as Peter admonishes us. (Standard Bearer, 10/1/1981)

It is my intention this year, the Lord willing, to write on some of the doctrines we believe and must defend and which give the Protestant Reformed Churches the right of a separate existence within the Reformed church world.

____________________

This post was written by Aaron Cleveland, a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you have a question or comment for Aaron, please do so in the comment section.

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RFPA Update newsletter - Winter 2017

 Click icon to read the full pdf version.

Some of the Articles in this issue:
Justification by Faith Alone: The Heart of the Reformation
RFPA Annual Meeting
Book Review: Christianizing the World
New RPFA Staff member

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Free Standard Bearer Special Issues

For many years the Standard Bearer has published special issues that recognize significant events in the Reformation of the church (e.g. Abraham Kuyper and the Reformation of 1886, The Synod of Dordt, etc.) or important topics in the believer's life (e.g. Prayer, The Reformation and a Holy Life, etc.). The RFPA has a surplus of inventory of many of these special issues and we are offering them at no charge for evangelism purposes, discussion groups, and personal use (Shipping charges will apply). To place your order call (616-457-5970) or email (mail@rfpa.org).

     

October 15, 1995: The Reformation of 1924

 

October 15, 1996: The Reformation of 1953

 

October 15, 1997: The Synod of Dordt, 1618, 1619

 

January 15, 1998: Reformed Worship

 

October 15, 1998: Abraham Kuyper and the Reformation of 1886

 

October 15, 1999: The Reformation and the Last Things

 

August 2000: 75 Years Anniversary Celebration

 

October 15, 2000: John Knox

 

October 15, 2002: The Reformation and a Holy Life

 

October 15, 2003: John Calvin

 

October 15, 2004: The Reformation and the Doctrine of Man

 

June 2005: Prayer

 

October 15, 2005: John Wycliffe

 

October 15, 2006: Reformation in the Netherlands

 

May 1, 2007: The Lord’s Day

 

October 15, 2007: Church Reformation, 1834

 

November 1, 2009: John Calvin—500th Anniversary

 

October 15, 2010: The Ecumenical Spirit of the Reformation

 

October 15, 2011: The Belgic Confession of Faith

 

October 15, 2012: The Reformation of 1857

 

October 15, 2014: Augustine

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Heartily Believing Sound Doctrine (1)

During the past couple of Sundays most readers probably heard the Form for Ordination of Elders and Deacons read during the worship service as new elders and deacons were installed. Along with this the Formula of Subscription was read, which all Protestant Reformed officebearers must sign. This year as these two forms were read, I was struck by the emphasis these forms place on believing sound doctrine and rejecting false doctrine.

In the Form for Ordination of Elders and Deacons there are five references to the maintenance of sound doctrine in the church. The first duty of elders is “diligently to look whether every one properly deports himself in his confession and conversation.” The third duty of elders is to “have regard unto the doctrine and conversation of the ministers of the Word, to the end that all things be directed to the edification of the church; and that no strange doctrine be taught.” The Ordination Form calls the elders to “watch diligently against the wolves.” Therefore, the elders are “diligently to search the Word of God, and continually be meditating on the mysteries of the faith.”

The second and third questions asked of the newly installed officebearers concern believing “the perfect doctrine of salvation” and “reject[ing] all doctrines repugnant thereto.”

After the questions are answered, the minister, using the Ordination Form, exhorts the elders to “take heed that purity of doctrine and godliness of life be maintained in the church of God.” Finally, in the prayer at the end of the Ordination Form, God is beseeched that the elders may have the spiritual gifts of “wisdom, courage, and discretion” that they may take “diligent heed unto the doctrine and conversation" of those in the sheepfold, “keeping out the wolves.”

The language of the Formula of Subscription is even stronger. By subscribing to the Form, the officebearers “before the Lord declare” that they “heartily believe and are persuaded that all the articles contained in the Confession and Catechism of the Reformed Churches, together with the explanation of some points of the aforesaid doctrine made by the National Synod of Dordrecht, 1618-‘19, do fully agree with the Word of God.” Subscription binds the officebearers to “teach and faithfully to defend the aforesaid doctrine.”

The language of the Formula of Subscription becomes very rigorous when setting forth the subscriber's promise to reject false doctrine. Again, the officebearers declare before the Lord their promise to “not only reject all errors that militate against this doctrine” but to “refute and contradict them.” Further, they promise “to exert themselves in keeping the church free from such errors.”

We can be thankful that this kind of language is found in our forms. It is fashionable in Reformed churches today—and the Protestant Reformed Churches are not immune from this—to minimize sound doctrine and holiness of life. Further, condemnation of false doctrine is characterized as being sectarian and uncharitable. And this attitude is fatal for the church. Too often it is heard, “It’s not so important what we believe, it’s how we live.” Or, as some will say to excuse the sin of a member who forsakes his confession of faith vow and leaves for a church that holds to false doctrine, “Well, at least he is still attending church faithfully and seems to walk a holy life.” As if it were possible for one to depart from the truth (sound doctrine), that is walk in apostasy, and still live in holiness of life. Again, this attitude is fatal for the church and completely contrary to the clear language of the Ordination Form and the Formula of Subscription.

The officebearers of the church are called to search the Word of God, to know and believe the perfect doctrine of salvation and to exert themselves in the rejection of false doctrine so that the church may be kept free from error. While the officebearers are to lead in these areas, every member of the church is responsible for the promotion of sound doctrine, the rejection of false doctrine and the leading of a holy, antithetical life.

More on this in the next post.

_______________

This post was written by Aaron Cleveland, a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you have a question or comment for Aaron, please do so in the comment section.

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Gender Revolution

National Geographic magazine is ushering in the new year with a special issue devoted entirely to “Gender Revolution” (link). Although this may be hard to read, it is necessary to know what is taking place in the rapidly-changing world in which we live.

One of the two “historic” covers has a picture of a boy with pink clothes and long, pink hair who identifies as a girl. He is quoted as saying “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy.” On the other cover is a group of teenagers who identify themselves as “bi-gender,” “androgynous,” “intersex nonbinary,” and other of the multitude of new categories that have been created.

As the covers indicate, the issue is especially focused on the place of children in the gender revolution. There is even a discussion guide for parents and teachers to use in working through these issues with their children (link).

Throughout the issue there are pictures and stories of transgender children—boys who want to be girls, and girls who want to be boys; children who aren’t quite sure what they want to be, and children who are quite sure they don’t want to be put into any category. Some are receiving “puberty suppressants.” Others are undergoing “sex-reassignment surgeries.” Boys are having genitalia removed. Girls are removing their breasts and doing what they can to eliminate menstrual cycles.

According to the revolutionaries, the whole “gender identity” topic is a “shifting landscape.” Happily, children are being “freed” from the oppressive “binary of boy and girl.”

National Geographic is correct in labeling this a “revolution.” By definition, a revolution is a conscious, concerted effort to overthrow an established order. The established order is the division of the sexes into male and female. The radical revolution is trying to overthrow this basic distinction.

This gender revolution follows hard on the heels of the sexual revolution, with its “victory” in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. With the sexual revolution, the revolutionaries are trying (and apparently succeeding) to overthrow the established order of marriage as one man with one woman.

The new revolution refuses to accept that our gender is defined by our physical anatomy. Gender is rather a social construct, one which in the past has been largely shaped by a bunch of misogynistic pigs. Now there is freedom from those outdated ideas. A child’s gender is based on their feelings. If their feelings tell them they are a boy, then that’s what they should be, no matter that they have the physical anatomy of a girl. In fact, they have every right to mutilate their body through pills and surgeries to match their feelings.

In the end, what this revolution seeks to overthrow is the established order of God. On the sixth day of creation, God made mankind, the pinnacle of his creation. Gen. 1:27 says, “Male and female created he them.” He made a male out of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7), and he made a female out of the rib of the male (Gen. 2:20-23). They were the same in that they were both humans, but they were different in very obvious, anatomical ways. This is the basic division of the human race that God ordained for all time.

The gender revolution seeks to overthrow this most basic distinction that God has made.  This is the spirit of the Antichrist, who seeks “to change times and laws” (Dan. 7:25).

Parents who allow their children to choose what gender they would like to be based on their feelings are hardly fit to be called parents. Foolishness is bound in the heart of every child (Prov. 22:15). Every child has sinful thoughts and desires. But it is not the calling of parents to allow the child to indulge those lusts. The parent must instruct and correct the child, even when this upsets the child and brings him to tears. “Let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Prov. 19:18). But the parent who leaves his child to himself to do whatever he wants will be brought to shame (Prov. 29:15).

This is not to deny that there may be difficult situations that parents face with regard to the gender of their children. There is evidence in rare instances of chromosomal issues and ambiguous body parts among children. We live not in paradise, but in a world under the curse. In those situations parents—with the combined wisdom of a multitude of counselors—ought not be guided by personal choice but should seek to determine as best they can the God-given gender of their child.

Aside from these very rare cases, the matter is clear-cut.

Will we honor the god of self with the attitude, “I will do what I want because this is how I feel”? And in so doing will we cave to the lawless, Antichristian spirit of the age?

Or will we honor the wise Creator and his handiwork in our bodies? And in so doing oppose with might and main the “gender revolution” afoot?

__________________

This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section.

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