Arts and Works: Delighting Grace Interviews Quits Sabio

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While searching for pastors with sermons online for my blog series, a friend recommended me to consider Quits Sabio. Although he has not audio or video online, a pastor having a blog is a plus for me. As I check him out, look at his blog and his websites, I’m impress with his bi-vocation career. And I think many will consider it a cool job. Also he with his wife is into painting. So an interview must happen :-). And here it is.   We ask Quits about being a game developer, the industry, him being bi-vocation and the biblical view of creativity and arts.

Delighting Grace: Hello pastor. Can you tell us something about yourself?

Quits Sabio: I’m Enriqueto Sabio, but you may call me Quits. A husband to Malou and a father to our only princess, Amara. I’m bi-vocational; an elder at Sovereign Mercy Evangelical Church (SMEC) for almost 5 years now, and the current Technical Director of Funguy Studio. My wife and I love music and arts. In our spare time, we paint and play some music together.

Delighting Grace: How is the game developers industry here in the Philippines? How did you get into the job? It seems to be a dream job for some.

Quits Sabio: Game development industry in the Philippines is booming. Partly because of the height of mobile market here, and we have a lot of creative minds who worked on popular international titles in the recent decade. Not only that, most of our development companies offer diverse services. Spanning from games and onto enterprise applications, and multiple platforms such as mobile (ios, android, windows), console, pc/mac, vr/ar and many more.

How did I get into the job? I just posted some of my prototypes online after graduation, then one day I received a phone call from them. That’s how it happened and It is all grace. This is my first job and I haven’t left ever since.

Delighting Grace: What are the ups and down in your secular career?

Quits Sabio: The downside in my profession as a game developer is the constant need to meet the demands of our clients. Sometimes they’ll call you even on weekends or holidays just because there’s a bug in the game that needs fixing. But the upside is high pay grade. Definitely worth the effort. That is why by God’s grace I’m able to provide a little help in lifting some of the burden from our local church financially. Having said that, I still find some time to minister to God’s flock and be with my family. The other downside though is that sometimes I missed important company meetings and outings, because weekend is non negotiable for me.

Delighting Grace: So you’re a pastor and has secular work. And you manage to blog too. How do you manage being bi-vocational?

Quits Sabio: Currently, I only work three times a week in the office, and twice I have to work from home. With that setup, by God’s grace, I can still lead a bible study every Monday, prayer meeting on a Friday, a monthly visitation for each family, and corporate worship on a Sunday. For sermon preparation, I allocate an hour or so each day to read and be familiarized with the text and then I’ll work on my manuscript for the whole day of Friday and Saturday. That’s what my week looks like regularly. Of course that’s not always the case when I was just starting out on both of my vocations. I struggled a lot because I had to work at the office five times a week. But through God’s providence, eventually I got promoted, and so now I have the luxury of time.

I think the best way to manage your time is to prioritize what’s most important, namely God, then everything will fall into its right places.

Delighting Grace: Wow that’s indeed God’s providence. Pastor, your work requires being creative as well as artistic.  So what’s the biblical view of creativity and arts?

Quits Sabio: A biblical view of creativity and arts is not that far from how we view objective reality around us. Just like how nature reveals the glory of God and His invisible attributes, a true art must reflect the  Author of the good, the true and the beautiful. In other words, there really is such a thing as beautiful artwork and an ugly artwork, good music and bad music. I don’t buy the secular mentality that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. That it’s all subjective. Yes, we may respond to it subjectively, but the criteria for good art is not subjective. There are some criteria for beauty such as form, symmetry and asymmetry, color harmony, contrast and values(light and shadows). It must represent truth even though what you’re portraying is a fiction. Meaning, behind the imagery are objective realities. And if it is to be good, it must either explicitly or implicitly reflect God’s holy character. So just as there’s a standard for morality, there’s also a standard for beauty, namely God.

Delighting Grace: What are the common misconceptions of arts & creativity held by Christians?

Quits Sabio: One common misconception that comes to my mind is the idea that for an artwork to be considered as “Christian Art”, the subject must be biblical figures and events. That is not the case though. Art can be considered a “Christian Art” as long as the Christian artist did it to glorify God. To quote R.C. Sproul; “art is its own justification.” If it attest to God’s beauty and majesty, then it is a Christian art.

Second, as I mentioned earlier, is the notion that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. God himself declared that his creation was good only after he brought order to the void of Genesis 1:2. Also when God commissioned the construction of the temple, He gave precise materials, measurements, colors and form.

Thirdly, and probably the most controversial one, is the issue of portraying the Son of God in paintings, sculptures and even in movies. To understand the issue better, I would encourage you to read the article “Graven Images” from Ligonier.

In the article Robert Letham said;

“Where We Agree. Reformed theology believes in icons too. The idea of image (eikôn) is a biblical category — man made in the image of God, Christ the image of the invisible God. However, beyond this, everything is iconic for the Reformed. God has imprinted evidence of His own beauty and glory throughout creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1–2). What Calvinism did was to enable a this-worldly appreciation of beauty. By eliminating art and sculpture from church worship, it drove it into the world, placing the aesthetic in the context of general revelation, as the witness to God in the world rather than as the focus of the worship of God in the church.”

Basically, what he’s saying is that creating icons or images of any sort is not evil in itself, as long as it’s meant to point us to God within the realm of general revelation. Like how the natural world points us to His glory, and not to replace Him as the object of adoration within the context of church worship. Having said that, the debate rages on even within the Reformed camp to this day. So one must be careful when handling this issue. I for one, don’t paint images of Christ and don’t own one. But when I’m watching movies that does portray Jesus, or when I expressed admiration to the artistry involved in Da Vinci’s Last Supper, I know that I’m not worshipping those images. I know that it’s just an image pointing me to the real one, just like how the heavens declare the glory of God. If that image drives me to God’s word where I’ll find the accurate portrayal of Christ, then that’s fine with me.

Delighting Grace: Now let’s bring those we have talked about in one bag. How do we nurture believers in pursuing a diverse vocation say game developer?

Quits Sabio: Create an environment where they will discover their giftedness. If it is creative arts and music, expose your people to art history. The remarkable thing is, much of the good artworks and music ever composed, or created were from periods and eras where Christian worldview flourished.

For computer programming, just as in biblical exegesis, it requires much thinking. I know this could be a stretch for others, but for me, my training in exegesis and hermeneutics helped me on how to understand programming languages and vice versa. Attention to details is necessary if you really want to have a career on game development.

So we should promote high level of thinking, and at the same time appreciation for good music and arts.

Delighting Grace:  If a young believer seek counsel to you in the matters of which career path he will take, he is choosing either what he is passionate about like graphic design or practical like being a nurse or engineer, what will you advise to him? Will it change if he is a family man?

Quits Sabio: It doesn’t have to be either or. Choose what is practical and you’re passionate about. For me, being a game programmer is very practical and yet is very close to what I’m passionate about, namely creative arts. I think that answers the second question too. It doesn’t have to change if you’re a family man.

Delighting Grace: Thank you pastor for your time. Please invite us check you out and some of your works

Thank you for this opportunity, Delighting Grace! You can check out some of my articles through our church’s website at sovereignmercy.com, and through reformedexegetessociety.org. For my artworks, just visit MMS Music and Arts.

5 Free Must-See Christian Films Online

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I got inspired with an article from Reformed Prespectives which listed down 5 Christian films that are fantastic and free. So I listed some of my own favorite films online that never made it to their list. It’s a mix bag of free films nevertheless it’s worth watching. All of them are available for free on Youtube as of this posting.

Unpopular – Hosted by Emilio Ramos and produced by Red Grace Media, this 30 minute film explores the message of Christianity that is the gospel. With interviews with the likes of James White and Paul Washer, the film unravels the the unpopular message of the gospel to the world. Unpopular is a great tool to inspire and equip Christians to proclaim the offensive but much needed gospel to this sin filled world.

How to Answer The Fool – Thanks to Jeff Durbin and Sye Ten Bruggencate, they took presuppositional apologetics to street level. This film will explain the method and apply it practically on the real people down the street. The film ends with a heated conversation. How to Answer The Fool is your first dip to presuppositional apologetics and will drive you to find more about it.

Through the Eyes of Spurgeon – A real treat for Christians is this documentary that is now available online. Directed by Stephen McCaskell, documentary filmaker with works like Luther and the upcoming Puritan and Epic, this is his debut. This film explores the man who eventually became the Prince of Preachers. Through the Eyes of Spurgeon presents Spurgeon as you never have seen before.

Don’t Waste Your Life…Sentence – John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life created a big stir to a new generation of Reformed believers. That book sprang T-shirts, ballers, sermon jam videos, and a rap song from Lecrae promoting the message not to succumb to the American dream but to live for Christ. And this documentary, Dont Waste Your Life…Sentence, inspired by the book, is about inmates of Angola prison who were changed by the gospel. Get a glimpse of how they strive to live according to the gospel in this eye opening film with clips  of John Piper preaching  at that prison.

Robber of the Cruel Streets – George Muller’s name is synonymous with the word “prayer”. He is an inspiration to countless Christians who wants to depend on the Lord’s provision. This bio film produced by Christian History Institute, presents this man of prayer as he fully surrender his life and ministry to God. Robber of the Cruel Streets captures Muller’s heart for God and the orphans of the streets of London.

So that’s my list. What’s your favorite film? Please comment below and let us discuss it.

 

Unveiling Baptist Brider Heresy: Delighting Grace Interviews Zigfred Diaz

lfcma6vThis is the second part of my interview with Zigfred Diaz, author of the paper, Battling Baptist Bogus Beliefs. After discussing the Baptist successionism or Landmarkism, Zigfred Diaz focuses on the Baptist Brider teaching. In this teaching which is common to independent fundamental Baptist or Bible Baptist (as they are called here in the Philippines), the true Brider of Christ, who He will marry on the marriage supper for the Lamb in heaven is the Baptist church. Stranger as it may sound, these Baptist group teaches it on the pulpit and in Sunday School. So Zigfred get into the bottom of this and what he unveils is quite surprising.

  By the way, if you haven’t read the first paper on Baptist successionism you can download it here free. Also read the complementary interview with that paper by clicking here. If you want to read the second part, you can download it on the link provided at the end of this interview.

Delighting Grace: Good to have you again pastor. For the record please tell us what’s your motive behind writing a paper about Baptist Brider? 

Zigfred Diaz: Before I get into that, thanks for featuring one of my theological paper again in your blog. You know one of the problems of academic writing is that in most cases only in a few instances will it ever have mass penetration. So I am grateful once again for this opportunity as this will enable a lot of our Baptist bretheren to know about this issue.

Having said that, let’s jump right into the question shall we ? My motive for writing a paper on Baptist Brider is the same as my motive for writing my paper on Baptist successionism/landmarkism. First of all, having come from an independent fundamental Baptist background I am very much familiar and concerned about this false doctrine. I have somehow put it in my “To Do list” (and I have a thousand items there including papers to write hehehe) a long time ago. I am glad that this opportunity came for me to write it. I am very much concerned that a lot of my friends within independent fundamentalists circles has been blindly following that doctrine and a lot of my fellow pastor friends has also been blindly propagating it for whatever reasons they might have. Because I am out of that denomination now (I now pastor a Southern Baptist Church with a decidedly Reformed bent), I can now freely speak freely on certain matters that has been bothering me. (that is why I got out of the independent fundamentalists Baptist group in the first place) It is my hope and prayer that I might be able to shed light on this issue.

Secondly, this is in compliance with my requirements in my ecclesiology and eschatology subject at Veritas International University where I am currently doing my degree in Masters of Divinity majoring in Christian Apologetics. I always love to hit more than two birds with two stones so my writing this paper is one of those moments that I have done exactly just that. When I was going through the course work in my subject on ecclesiology and eschatology, I thought to myself what more better opportunitycan I findfind to write about these two subject areas than in the Baptist Brider issue ? So I am thankful to the Lord for giving me this opportunity.

Delighting Grace:  So from the Landmarkism/Baptist successionism now you are tackling Baptist Brider heresy. So what’s the connection of this subject to Landmarkism?

Zigfred Diaz: Baptism Successionism/Landmarkism is the foundational basis for the Baptist brider heresy. Without it there would be no Baptist Brider heresy. Baptist successionism/landmarkism is a result of poor and unscholarly historical research that forces the issue that Baptist as a denomination can trace an unbroken lineage back to the time of the New Testament church. This distortion of historical facts has resulted into some kind of Baptist elitism that looks down on other denominations resulting to this false and heretical doctrine of the Baptist Brider heresy wherein it is taught that that the local independent Baptist church is the bride of Jesus Christ and that only members of a true local independent Baptist church will be married to Jesus Christ in the Marriage Super of the Lamb as described in Revelation chapter 19. The reasoning behind this of course stems from the claim that “Baptist” is the one true church (the exclusion of all other denominations) and hence is the one true bride of Christ.

A preposterous variant of this false doctrine even teaches that non Baptist denominations will just become “waiters” or “servers” in the marriage supper of the lamb. (Honestly speaking this is so hilarious that I could fall off my chair laughing at the thought of this) The Baptist Brider Heresy has no basis whatsoever in Scriptures and is based on the errors of Baptist Successionism/Landmarkism which in turn has no historical basis whatsoever.

Delighting Grace:  Is the time and process in writing this differ from the previous one?

Zigfred Diaz: Before I answer this question let me just say that I love academic research and research in general. Research helps me learn new things and helps all of us get to the bottom of the truth. Research takes time and the process in most research is more or less the same especially in comparison with my previous paper as they are somewhat related and intertwined subjects.

Since I have already done research and has written a paper on Baptist successionism/Landmarkism which is the foundational core of the Baptist Brider doctrine, the time it took to research and write the paper on this is much lesser. With regards to the process, as mentioned it is more or less the same. This time however I did not go to the Baptist Theological Forum to gather data or information about this issue. I already personally know  that a lot of Baptist especially independent fundamentalists Baptist, hold on to the doctrine. I did engage in private conversations with some people I know in order to verify if the Baptist Brider doctrine they hold on to is the same with what was said in the materials that I will cite in my paper and if there are any variants to the said doctrine. I did already hear several messages from the pulpit advocating the Baptist Brider position when I was still in independent fundamentalist Baptist circles. But that was a long time ago.

In order to have a good and quality research I need to validate the information.Through private conversations with people I personally know, I validated that what I heard before and what I read about what of people hold about the Baptist Brider heresy were more or less the same.

Delighting Grace:  I read the paper and I just can’t believe what I’m reading. Are these Baptist Brider believers not employing sound interpretation and common sense. How did they end up with this messy doctrine?

Zigfred Diaz: That is a very good question.Considering that a lot of these Baptist Briders hold on to unsound interpretation and a lot of the doctrines they hold on to are unscriptural, lacks logic and even defies common sense, in some way I am not surprised anymore. Let me just say this bluntly, sadly common sense is not so common in a lot of doctrines I have encountered in several Baptist denominations.  

When I was still within independent fundamentalists Baptist circles it was very ironic that we were asked to always bring our Bibles in church and one of the reasons for this we were told is that so that we can check if what the pastor is preaching is truly from God’s Words and that somehow he got the interpretation of Scriptures right. However anybody who questions the interpretation will somehow be branded as some kind of a rebel or to use their term “touching” or going against “God’s anointed.”This kind of dictatorial and despotic rule is probably one factor why Baptist Briders ended up with such messy doctrine. (And not only the Baptist Brider Doctrine but other doctrines as well including issues in soteriology, KJV Onlyism, Baptist successionism etc. issues that I have written papers on, I am really serious about turning “Battling Bogus Beliefs” into a book soon).

Nobody dares to question the pastor as he is God’s anointed. It would be good if you have a pastor who really studies the issues, follows what God says and what He really means by what He says and uses sound logic and critical thinking when dealing with certain doctrines and issues. But if you have  a pastor who merely parrots the garbage that is being fed to him in conferences and by other fellow pastors then you have a big problem and the result is churches and denominations that end up with messed up doctrines such as the Baptist Brider heresy. And because nobody dares question the pastor this has produced a kind of anti-scholarship attitude. This kind of attitude has certainly fueled the proliferation of unscriptural, logically unsound and “messy” doctrines as you would call it. In the future I look forward to doing research on Baptist ecclesiology more particularly power structures in Baptist churches and its relation to theology and theopraxy. 

Delighting Grace: Another thing that struck me and I find offensive is calling other non Baptist believers to be “servants” in the marriage supper of the Lamb because they dont belong to a Baptist church. Isn’t that similar to a Mormon teaching on how they treat  white and black skinned people and also Jehovah’s Witnesses 140,000 teachings?

Zigfred Diaz: Well in some sense it is similar to those doctrines. Similar in a sense that certain groups of people are treated a certain way because of a particular doctrine but that such doctrine is based on an erroneous interpretation of Scriptures. The only difference is that in the case of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s witnesses the discriminatory treatment is an actual or experienced reality already considering that Mormons follow certain church policies in dealing with dark skinned people (which critics brand as racial discrimination and which officially the Mormons deny) and in the Jehovah’s witness case only the 144,000 are allowed to partake in the communion.

In the case of Baptist briders there is no actual “discriminatory” practice since the “discrimination” so to speak will supposedly happen in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. There is however a “discriminatory” attitude. The Baptist Brider heresy has produced an elitist attitude and there is no doubt that those who hold on to such attitude do not have much fellowship with other Protestant denominations or even other Baptist denominations. (Just ask pastors in interdenominational local ministerial groups how many Baptist are there or how many Baptist participate in interdenominational evangelistic activities and you will know what I am talking about).

This kind of attitude is doing so much damage to the body of Christ as a whole because instead of us uniting in things that we have in common, those who hold on to Baptist Successionism/Landmarkism and the Brider doctrine have produced an elitist, separatist attitude which in reality has really no Biblical and even historical basis.

Delighting Grace: Another thing I observed in the paper is the use Matt. 16: 18 just like the Roman Catholics Church as the basis of the foundation of their church. Is there any difference between how Baptist Brider proponents and RCC in handling this verse?

Zigfred Diaz: In some sense there is no difference in how Baptist Brider proponents and the Roman Catholic Church handle Mathew 16:18. Both groups are spot on wrong on how they interpret the verse. If we must point out the difference, the difference is probably how and why each of them are wrong. The common and foremost error committed by both groups is of course a wrong interpretation of Scriptures.

For Baptist briders when Jesus Christ said he will build his church they believe that what He established was to use their exact term, a “local New Testament Baptist church.”  This error is based primarily on faulty logic. It is the logical fallacy of equivocation. It is such because since Baptist Briders also hold on to some kind of Baptist Successionism/Landmarkism andin that doctrine one of the foundational things they hold on to is that they believe that since Jesus Christ was Baptized by John the Baptist hence he is a Baptist (just as when somebody is baptized a Roman Catholic, then such person is Roman Catholic) I extensively discussed in my paper the logical fallacy of this reasoning.

On the other hand as mentioned, aside from mainly a wrong interpretation of Scriptures,the Roman Catholic’s error is also some kind of historical theology and for ordinary Roman Catholic most definitely a church history error. Too much emphasis is given on the Apostle Peter. Let me quote from a paper I also wrote on this, but I will not dwell on this much considering this is not the main subject of this interview. It is entitled “Probing Peter’s Papacy:An examination of Roman Catholic and Protestant views on Mathew 16:13-20.” We could discuss more of this in another interview. Anyway here it is:

The strength of the Roman Catholic view is also its weakness as too much emphasis and importance is being given to the Apostle Peter. As discussed in the first Protestant view, Peter himself never referred to himself as “the rock” upon which the Church is built but constantly referred to Christ being the chief cornerstone. While admittedly, the Apostle Peter is always mentioned first in Scriptures and regarded widely as the outspoken leader of the apostles, nowhere in Scriptures can we read that the other Apostles gave the highest regards for Peter just like what the Roman Catholic Church has conferred upon him. Carson in the Expositor’s commentary rightly describes Peter as “first among equals.”  But take note that it was not only Peter that is regarded as the leader among the Apostles. Aside from the fact that the Apostles seemed to “rule” over the church as a group together with other elders, James the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ who was not one of the original 12 and the Apostle John were regarded by the Apostle Paul as the “pillars” of the early church in Galatians 2:9. The Apostle Peter and James seemed to be the lead facilitators in the first church council, the council at Jerusalem and it was James who gave the closing statement and a seeming final judgment on the matter at hand. When Peter was imprisoned and released by an angel, he sent word to “James and to the brethren” about his release. (Acts 12:17) Let me add further that the early church fathers points to James as the First Bishop of the first Christian Church, the church at Jerusalem.”

Delighting Grace: Again thank you for answering some questions. So please invite our reader to download Battling Baptist Bogus Beliefs part 2 which is about the Baptist Brider heresy.

Zigfred Diaz: You are most welcome I invite you all to download my paper dealing with Baptist Bogus Beliefs. This time tackling the Baptist Brider doctrine. Please share this with everybody you know who holds on to this erroneous doctrine. It is really my heart’s desire that this doctrine by refuted and that pastors will stop teaching it in churches as it has done so much damage to the body of Christ and to all of us Baptist collectively. You can download it here.

Delighting Grace: So guys download the free paper and share it to people trap in this false teaching. As Zigfred Diaz will tackles another issue, Delighting Grace will hopefully cover it also.

Debunking A Myth: Delighting Grace Interviews Zigfred Diaz

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Long held claims of believers should be questioned and verified. Left unchallenged, it will eventually breed legalism and anti-intellectualism that will bring reproach to the church . Pastors and preachers our duty is to do research for facts to back up those claims. Pastor Zigfred Diaz did just that and he shared what he uncovered about Baptist Successionism. Baptist successionism, perpetuity and landmarkism are claims by some (but not all) Baptist specifically by Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) or Bible Baptist (which they are called here in the Philippines).  DG connected with him and he answered some of our inquiries about this controversial subject.

Delighting Grace: Please tell us who you are and your background.

Zigfred Diaz: Actually I wear several hats at the same time so to speak. But among the things I do is that I pastor a Southern Baptist Church (Reformed), I am also a lawyer, entrepreneur, senior manager, financial planner, investments specialist.  My full profile can be seen at my personal blog at: http://www.zdiaz.com/about/

Delighting Grace: Whats the reason why you wrote something about Baptist successionism?

Zigfred Diaz: I grew up in an Independent Baptist Church. We were taught Baptist Successionism since I was a kid. For a long time I’vebelieved it to be true. However as I matured both in my spiritual life and in my thinking there were some things about it that really did not make any sense logically nor does it seemed to be backed by the Scriptures and even the evidence. I soon read materials on the matter but was not able to really dig deeper. I wanted to investigate the matter further but it seems that time has not permitted me. Although I pastor a church, I do feel that my particular calling is to equip the saints through teaching and writing as I consider both as God’s gift to me wherein I can be a more effective minster to the body of Christ.

In order to be more effective in that one, I decided to enroll at Veritas International University, School of Apologetics where I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Divinity major in Christian Apologetics. The areas of theological studies that I am very interested on is Apologetics, church history, textual criticism and biblical archeology. I took the subject  “Church History” last summer. We were required to write a 25 page paper on our chosen church history subject. Since the subject on Baptist Successionism piqued my interest, I decided to do research and write about Baptist it.

I actually chose that particular topic for three reasons. First, because most church history books are focused on the main story of Christianity with Baptist church history being only some sort of a sub-topic. There are books and articles written on it, but I feel that more research can be  and should be done on the subject. Secondly because I wanted to counter the wrong teachings of Baptist Successionism, Perpetuity and Landmarkism since it has caused so much damage to the body of Christ and to Baptist church history as it has produced a group of elitist Baptist who think they are right when in truth is that what they hold on to is based on false claims. Not only that, I also want to counter this wrong teaching because it has produced a lot of Baptist Christians who do not even know how to think and evaluate critically and logically this matter and to do research to see if what is being claimed is backed by the evidence.

Delighting Grace: What do think are the reasons why some of our Baptist brethren hold on this teaching?

Zigfred Diaz: Mainly because of a lot of those who hold on to this is misinformed and because of other factors which I will discuss later. This teaching is very popular among independent Baptist, missionary Baptist, primitive Baptist and some Southern Baptist. As I mentioned I come from an independent Baptist church. The ironic thing about most Independent Baptist is that they tell you to bring your Bible to church to check if what your pastor is saying is true. But what’s funny is that if you start to question things, you either get told to shut up or you will branded as a “rebel”, “backslider”, “liberal” and all the other beautiful adjectives that could possibly be labeled to you. :-D. I am sad to say that a lot of these churches seem to promote some kind of anti-intellectualism.

So in a lot of these churches when people start to question Baptist Successionism, they get criticized for questioning it. So they will just back down and will be forced to swallow whatever they had been fed. Few of us who could not take it anymore eventually transferred to other Baptist groups. However I know a lot who chose to remain on the inside but they do have sincere questions and doubt about certain issues like Baptist Successionism. However I think they would not want to bail out of the group considering that they already have friends and family there.  It’s hard to uproot somebody growing up in the culture. So in this sense I understand why some people chose to remain in there and continue to somehow “swallow” the wrong things taught to them when in reality they have some doubt and objections about it. It is indeed hard to be ostracized by the majority in these groups who believe in Baptist Successionism.

Delighting Grace: What are the reactions of people when they hear or read your paper regarding the Trail of Blood?

Zigfred Diaz:  The Trail of Blood is the most popular work on Baptist Successionism hence when I wrote a paper against it, it really caused quite a stir. Well thank God I haven’t encountered any violent reactions that has led to physical harm :-D. But I’ve been called the beautiful adjectives that I mentioned.  We Filipinos are of course none confrontational and when I met those from my former denomination they of course did not mention their objections to what I have written. However I know that a lot of them have expressed displeasure because of what I have written.  I know this because I am administrator of a Facebook group named “Baptist Theological Forum” which has currently more than 2,000 members from different Baptist groups mainly from the Philippines.

A lot of my friends and acquaintances from my previous church and denomination are there and they have definitely read what I have wrote as I posted it there. Some of them do tell me that they find my paper interesting. The greatest blessing I receive is that that there are those from my former denomination that tell me that I am right. Those from independent Baptist churches who I do not know personally and I have engaged with in the forum, do fight tooth and nail for Baptist Successionism. I do take the time to answer them and show them what is wrong with it and how the Trail of Blood is based on false claims, half truths and even outright lies.

Delighting Grace: Read the paper you have written. Its short and its spot on. Will you consider publishing this paper?

Zigfred Diaz: Thanks. Yes I am considering publishing it. However most seminaries and organizations only accept publication from people on the inside. So I have yet to find a seminary or organization that accepts publications from people outside their organization. If there is one do let me know and I will publish it in that journal. Our seminary still does not have a journal but if it will have one in the future, I will publish it there.

Delighting Grace: Please tell us the process in writing Battling Baptist Bogus Beliefs.

Zigfred Diaz: First, I asked my professor if I can write about the subject then he gave me approval and asked me to submit a list of references that I will be using. Next I read books, articles, write ups etc. on the subject from both sides and carefully evaluated the arguments and the evidences of both. Afterwards I went to the Baptist Theological Forum and other Theological chat groups and asked other pastors regarding the subject. That was really very helpful because part three of my paper would not have been completed without me doing such. For quite some time,  I was asking a lot of Baptist who claims to have an unbroken lineage of their church to the New Testament church to give me a copy of such lineage.  To my surprise nobody wanted to give it to me not even some persons and groups who claimed they have it. So that really fueled my confidence that such lineage either does not exist or that they were unsure of its accuracy.

Finally somebody in the Baptist Theological Forum gave me their church lineage and another pastor, a personal friend of mine was kind enough to give me their church lineage. I actually used those two lineages in my paper and  I back check the references given if they were true. Well for those who have not read my paper you will have to find out the answer :-D. Actually the part I liked most in my paper is that last part where I debunked the church lineages that was given to me. I liked that part because I had fun searching for the references and checking if what is being said there is true or not. It is really fun and exhilarating to uncover the truth.

Delighting Grace: Wow. How does a Christian avoid falling to errors like Landmarkism?

Zigfred Diaz: Christians must not just swallow immediately whatever is being taught to them. God gave us brains to think. Not to use it properly is a grave insult to Him. We must critically evaluate properly anything that is thrown at us. We must think logically and check if whatever is being claimed is backed by the evidence. Not only that we must learn the tools on how to do to scholarly research and evaluate truth claims. Each discipline has its own tools to do proper research. Historians have the historical method, Anthropologist have ethnography and other social science tools, Archeology has archeological principles and methods, Textual Criticism has rules and even pastors must follow the basic rules of exegesis to properly interpret Scriptures ! 

Above all there is the basic principles of logic. This is not “worldly” knowledge as some Baptist groups would want us to think. The source of all this knowledge is God. Further in this century, information is freely and readily available. When I did research in my paper to back check the references in the church lineage that was given to me, I mostly searched for those references online. They are all freely available in the internet ! We must learn to utilize these resources properly. All of these are gifts from God.

I teach critical thinking at a Christian High School and I wish that this subject is also taught in Bible schools. I am very much dismayed and flabbergasted that even pastors share fake news in Facebook! If these pastors believe in fake news which is just so easy to check online,surely they will have a hard time discerning fake news from the past ! The Trail of Blood and the claims of Baptist Successionism, perpetuity and Landmarksim are fake news from the past. Christians especially pastors should learn to be discerning. We are God’s people and we have the Holy Spirit with us who will teach us all things. We should be the most lucid and  discerning thinkers.

Delighting Grace:  Where do you go from here pastor? What are you’re plans in the future concerning this issue?

Zigfred Diaz: Actually I plan to write a book someday with the same title. (I like the title.When I write papers, I usually take time to whip up a fancy title) It will be a series of books discussing Baptist bogus beliefs. I have two topics now for this series of books. The first volume will deal with Baptist Successionism and the second volume will be on the issue of KJV Onlyism, also an issue close to my heart as a lot of my brethren in my previous denomination still hold on to this wrong belief.  (I have written a paper on the logical fallacies of KJV Onlyism) I will think of more topic as time goes by.

By the way, books countering Baptist Successionism are now a bit dated and historians dealing with the subject are aging or has gone home with the Lord. For example Dr. Leon McBeth who wrote “The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness” published in 1986 was one of the most comprehensive and accurate work on Baptist Church History. In his book he discussed the issue of Baptist Successionism perpetuity and landmarkism. He died last 2013. McBeth was distinguished professor of Church History  for 45 years at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary and has served as chairman of the Texas Baptist Historical Committee Baptist Convention, and as president of the Southern Baptist Historical Society. He also experienced being a pastor in several churches. McBeth was considered the foremost Baptist historian in the 20th century.

Former Baptist Pastor, renowned church historian and seminary professor,  Dr. James Edward McGoldrick author of “Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History” is now in his senior years. His book, published in 1999 is one of the main reference for my paper and is the probably the only book to date that counters point by point and directly the work of J.M Caroll’s Trail of Blood.

These great scholars used by God needs to have somebody pick up where the left off. We need more scholars researching the subject so that  false claims will be countered and that the true Baptist Church History will be known by the generations to come.

Delighting Grace: Thank you pastor for your time. Please invite our readers to check out and download your free paper Battling Baptist Bogus Beliefs.

Zigfred Diaz: Sure! I was planning to put it up in Academia but if I do that, the journals won’t allow me to publish with them. So I am a bit reluctant. That is why I have only one published worked in Academia. I have a lot of papers that I haven’t put up in Academia dealing with several subjects from  Anthropology, Archeology and Theology.

Anyway, you can all download it in this link. Please feel free to share it without asking for my permission. The truth needs to come out on this issue freely!

 

Collecting the Past: Delighting Grace Interviews Caleb of Log College Press

joanna-kosinska-44214-unsplash-01While Monergism.org dishes out awesome e-books of the past Christian giants, there is a new kid on the block that is solely dedicated in publishing unknown 18th-19th century American Presbyterians. As you go to their website Log College Press,  you’ll find over 1700 works by 350 authors that are free for download. So we reached out to Caleb Cangelosi, founder of Log College Press, to talk about church history, old books and of course Log College Press:

Delighting Grace:  First off, why is it important for us to look back and read materials of and about the past? In other words, how essential is history for a believer?

Caleb Cangelosi: The study of church history is vital for Christians today because we are not the first ones to study the Scriptures, wrestle with theological questions, and engage in apologetics and evangelism. God has been working in His church far before He brought us into the world. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, and have much to learn from our forefathers in the faith. As George Santayana wrote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

The study of history also teaches us that God uses sinful saints to accomplish His purposes, and therefore gives us great hope and encouragement as we go forth into the world today. Additionally, we must recognize that our religious experience in American has been impacted by our American theological ancestors – the past is not dead. At Log College Press, we are committed to encouraging the reading of both primary and secondary sources, for it is important to hear directly from those in the past, and to understand their writings in proper historical context, so that we might rightly apply their teachings to the present. We are motivated by the conviction that as Christians in the present root themselves in the past, we will bear fruit forward into the future for the glory of God and the church of Jesus Christ.

Delighting Grace:  Can you tell us who are these authors and what is the most important contribution by this group in Christianity specifically in America?

Caleb Cangelosi: Log College Press is devoted to collecting and reprinting the writings of and about American Presbyterians from the 18th and 19th centuries. Our website contains authors from several different American Presbyterian denominations, and each of these bodies made unique contributions to the church of Jesus Christ, so it is difficult to state just one important thing they gave to America. But in general, in the books on our site you will find a commitment to the Scriptures as the inerrent, authoritative word of God; a commitment to the Westminster Standards as the summary of Scriptural teaching; a commitment to a gospel-centered and law-delighting piety; an emphasis upon the church of Jesus Christ; a focus on missions, evangelism, and apologetics; and a love for preaching (many of the writings on our site are sermon collections).

Delighting Grace:  There are already tons of Christian books out there that a Christian read. What do you think makes reading old stuff a unique experience for a Christian?

Caleb Cangelosi: C. S. Lewis put it best in his essay, “On the Reading of Old Books.” He wrote, “Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books…The only palliative [to ignoring our cultural and chronological blind spots] is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.”

Delighting Grace:  Wow! Please tell us how Log College Press started and what goals LCP wants to target?

Caleb Cangelosi: For some time I have had the desire to create a website that collected all the digitized writings of early American Presbyterians, much as the Post-Reformation Digital Library did for the Post-Reformation period. Over the past several years I have also wanted to see some of the books and booklets that I appreciate from these authors reprinted. After not finding any publishers interested in doing these reprints, I finally decided I would try to do it myself. I quickly realized that I could kill two birds with one stone and combine my two desires into one project – Log College Press (the name is taken from the earliest American Presbyterian “seminary,” William Tennent’s Log College – as many universities and colleges have a publishing arm, I thought it a fitting name on several levels).

So Log College Press is really two things. It is a website, offering free PDF downloads of all the public domain writings we can find online (or digitize ourselves) from 18th and 19th century American Presbyterians, and a near-daily blog that discusses the authors and writings we’re putting on our site. It is also a publishing company that aims slowly but surely to reprint some of the hidden gems from these authors, and hopefully one day secondary sources about them (we also have on our website a bookstore that possibly contains one of the largest online collections of secondary sources on American Presbyterian history). The website and the publishing are both designed to bring these authors and their writings back to the knowledge of the general public, so that by taking root in the past we might bear fruit into the future.

Delighting Grace:  And some are free to download and read!

Caleb Cangelosi: Yes! We want people to be able to read the writings of this period, and so the primary service we provide is collecting in one place what is already out there on the internet. Nearly all the books on our site have been found on Google Books or Archive.org. The digitization projects of these websites is a tremendous blessing of the internet age. What formerly was hidden away in a library is now accessible with the click of a button, and can be loaded onto a tablet for easy access. We’ve done the work of locating the books and organizing them by author, so that those who are interested in this period can discover them more easily. Hopefully our work will enable these authors to reach a new audience – including an international audience who has never heard of these writings, or does not have American library access to them. I like to say that our job is that of “biblio-paleontology” – the finding of ancient books by unknown authors, who though dead can still speak God’s truth to our hearts.

Delighting Grace:  That’s one noble cause for Christians to bring these authors back. How about the process of getting these materials and putting it online. It must be interesting process, isn’t?

Caleb Cangelosi: It is indeed. Currently two of us (a gentleman named Andrew Myers, and I) work on posting books to the site. As I just mentioned, we typically locate the works we are looking for on Google Books or Archive.org. Discovering books – especially books we had not known of previously – is the best part of this work. Sometimes we have to manually scan a work ourselves, or pay a library to do that for us. Since all these works are in the public domain, it is not a legal problem to copy them and post them online.  We also clean up the PDFs, deleting blank pages to make them more visually attractive and “user-friendly.” We try to find as many pictures of the authors as we can find. That has also been a neat part of this work, because often there is only one picture that everyone thinks of with regard to a particular author – and yet there are often more pictures online, some from the authors’ youth. Seeing additional pictures can help change the way you think about a person.
Delighting Grace:  Is there a one material from LCP that has a unique backstory?

Caleb Cangelosi: Two items come immediately to mind. First, Archibald Alexander’s Lecture Notes on Systematic Theology. Not only do we see what seminary class was like back in 1818, but also the notes were taken by Charles Hodge, Alexander’s student who followed Alexander as professor at Princeton Seminary. It is not alway easy to make out his handwriting, but it is fascinating to read hand-written notes from this era. Second, Alfred Nevin’s Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. This is a treasure trove of historical and biographical information, pictures, and Biblical-theological studies on important topics.

Delighting Grace:  Now that’s a gem! If a Christian wants to read books from Log College Press, which one would you first recommend and why?

Caleb Cangelosi: Of the four publications that we have put out thus far, William Swan Plumer’s Christ All in All: The Right Temper for the Theologian that would be appealing to the broadest audience. Plumer’s booklet, though originally addressed to seminary students, is an easy introduction to the writing of the period, and is so rich in its Christ-centered piety. It is also a great read for anyone who desires to study theology, for Plumer teaches the manner in which one ought to approach this joyful task.

If any of your readers are pastors or teachers, they should definitely buy Francis Grimke’s Meditations on Preaching (about the glorious calling of feeding God’s sheep with the truth of Christ), or C. W. Grafton’s A Forty-Three Year Pastorate in a Country Church (about small-town ministry). Finally, if anyone is interested in learning more about Presbyterianism, Thomas Dwight Witherspoon’s The Five Points of Presbyterianism is a great introduction. We are about to publish Archibald Alexander’s Aging in Grace: Letters to Those in the Autum of Life (about the trials of growing old, and the Christian’s hope beyond the grave).

Delighting Grace:  How about those freebies? What is your Top 5 must read from the Free PDF Library?

Caleb Cangelosi: This is a very difficult question, as we currently have on our site over 1750 works by over 350 authors! But here are five that I would recommend:

  1. Archibald Alexander’s Biographical Sketches of the Founder, and Principal Alumni, of the Log College – to learn more about the history of the Log College and early American Presbyterianism.

 

  1. William Catto’s A Semi-Centenary Discourse – A History of the the First African Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, and a Brief Notice of Rev. John Gloucester – to learn about early African-American Presbyterians.

 

  1. Henry Alexander White’s Southern Presbyterian Leaders– biographical sketches of Presbyterians in the 19th century Southern United States.

 

  1. William Swan Plumer’s Commentary on the Psalms (or Hebrews orRomans)– commentaries filled with exegetical insights and practical wisdom for the Christian life.

 

  1. Stuart Robinson’s Discourses on Redemption– a great study of the gospel from Genesis through Revelation; a 19th century Biblical theology.

 

Delighting Grace:  Thank you for this interview Caleb, so please invite our readers to go check Log College Press and share us your social media accounts so we can get in touch with LCP.

Caleb Cangelosi: Thank you so much for the privilege of communicating to your readers what we are doing! We would love for them all to visit our site (www.logcollegepress.com) and browse our free library, our blog archives, and our bookstore. We are giving away a free ebook on our home page, so your readers should definitely take advantage of that (currently, it’s William Swan Plumer’s Christ All in All: The Right Temper for a Theologian). Your readers can also sign up to receive our blog posts in their email inbox (this is a great way to learn more about the authors and works on our site). We are also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To keep the website going, and to enable us to reprint more works, please buy our publications! I don’t currently ship to the Philippines, but I do sell ebooks (in Kindle and EPUB formats), so international readers can purchase them. We also sell our books on Amazon. If anyone has more questions, there is a contact form on our website. We would love to hear from them!

Accessible Apologetics: Delighting Grace Interviews Jason Petersen

sjvengxI have read tons of apologetic books. From age of the earth to atheism, KJV onlyism to Roman Catholicism and now from evidential to presuppositional apologetics, I have read materials that covers basically those topics. But nothing has helped me look at apologetics in a more dissected view to see how it really works. I have been bogged by a jungle of terms and jargons that I didn’t see apologetics in a more understandable way. After picking up the book, Apologetics Made Simple, it dawned to me that I can view and understand  apologetics  in 5 important components.  Recently Delighting Grace connected to Jason Petersen, author of Apologetics Made Simple, and we talked about Christian handling apologetics, the presuppositional approach and his book  Apologetics Made Simple.

Delighting Grace: What are the reasons why Christians distance themselves when we talk about apologetics?

Jason Petersen: By the Holy Spirit, we know that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). I think those who distance themselves mean well, and that they believe that the defense of the Christian faith is incompatible with faith itself. If we look at situations in the Bible that involve the defense of the faith such as Acts 17 and what the Bible says concerning defending the faith in 1 Peter 3:15, we see that the Bible does call us to defend our faith, but we are to do so in faith. We ought to exhibit the character of Yeshua when we defend the faith.

Delighting Grace: How about lack of civility? Can it hinder apologetics? What do you do when you face this kind of situation?

Jason Petersen: We do not have the power to frustrate God’s will, but we are accountable for how we behave. When someone is rude to us, we should not reciprocate. If someone will not listen when we proclaim the truth to them, we are to walk away (Proverbs 14:7, Matthew 10:14).

 

Delighting Grace: When the word apologetics comes up, we quickly picture it as Christians talking to unbelievers. But how about in church settings when we have talk it to our brethren? Is there a difference in approach?

Jason Petersen: We ought to treat everyone with the same love and respect of Yeshua. With another believer, you both should already agree that the Bible is the foundation for thought. After all, there is no need to convince someone who already believes the Bible is the Word of God that the Bible is the Word of God. The only difference would be the starting point of the person we are talking to.

Delighting Grace: Any personal story that you can share with us that you have applied apologetics?

Jason Petersen: There are many, but an example of the most common type of stories I have involve dealing with unbelievers that seem to think that Science reigns supreme over all. I recently had a discussion with an atheist named Kyle Rutherford, who says he is a scientist (I can’t remember in what field), and I explained to him all of the philosophical problems that involve claiming that the empirical method can allow us to know which propositions are true and which are not. He did not offer any response to my arguments and instead attempted to ridicule me. I departed from him because the Bible teaches us to leave the presence of a fool (Proverbs 14:7).

Delighting Grace: As I have point out previously, your e-mail address reveals you’re a presuppositional apologist. So for the readers can you tell us what’s it all about and how it differs from evidential apologetics?

Jason Petersen: Although I am a presuppositional apologist, I do believe that evidential apologetics does have its place and I have seen it bear fruit. God can use any form of apologetic for his glory so I am not dogmatic concerning how we do apologetics. I will, however, say that I think it is important that we approach our apologetic with a systematic mindset. If we are going to defend the truth of the Bible, we better darn sure be able to show how we know that it is true. This is why I am a presuppositionalist, and in particular, a Clarkian presuppositionalist.

It is hard to define evidential apologetics because there are various approaches and degrees of approaches. Some evidential apologists believe that we can show that the Bible is true apart from using the Bible. While I do think we can point to many things outside of the Bible that are consistent with the truth of the Bible, I do reject the notion that the truth of the Bible can be demonstrated apart from special revelation. It is one thing to point to things that are consistent with the truth of the Bible, but it is another to demonstrate it.

As a Clarkian presuppositionalist, I start with an axiom, “The Bible is the Word of God.” From there, I can, using the verses in the Bible, show that the Bible is true because it is inspired by God and God does not lie (2 Timothy 3:16, Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2). This may seem strange to some, and perhaps some may be so inclined to reject such a notion as circular reasoning. I would argue that because my axiom is not demonstrable, the line of reasoning is linear, not circular. As a Clarkian presuppositionalist, I believe the only way to know that the Bible is true is if the Holy Spirit dwells within you (Romans 8:16). I also believe that the use of evidence is permissible, but what it can accomplish, as it would be with trying to prove any other position with evidence, is limited. This is a topic that I plan to hash out more in my upcoming book, ‘Clarkian Apologetics.’

Delighting Grace: How do you respond to people who say apologetics is impractical to help someone’s Christian walk?

Jason Petersen: Seeing how Yeshua, the Prophets, and the Apostles all defended the faith, I would probably sarcastically remark that none of them must have gotten the memo.

Delighting Grace: Your book, Apologetics Made Simple is absolutely great. Can you tell us about that book?

Jason Petersen: Thank you. I am glad that you enjoyed it. Ever since I started doing Apologetics, when I would dialogue with unbelievers, I could tell that something was not quite right with the discussion. It seemed like the arguments against the faith of the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob were all rooted in semantics and linguistic gymnastics. Over time, I was able to more precisely point out where the faults were. In 2017, I decided to publish a book that would point out five critical keys to dealing with the tricks that those who oppose the faith that was given to us by God in the days of old that would make any apologetic method unstoppable. The five keys are as follows: dogmatism, systemization, language (and propositional truth), accuracy, and faith. This book is short and only takes about an hour to an hour and a half to read. I wanted the keys shared to be easily digested even by laypeople. Both laypeople and seminary professors have said great things about this book.

Delighting Grace: Can you tell us the process of writing that book?

Jason Petersen: I did an outline of the five keys that I wanted to share, and then I expounded on those keys in every chapter. The way I write is pretty simple. Some will make a thorough outline while others will just write and “let it flow.” I do a combination of both. I do a basic outline, I let it flow, and then I read over it and determine if any changes need to be made or if I need to add to or subtract from what I’ve written. That is the approach that I took with this book.

Delighting Grace: Will you be writing books like that soon? I mean its short enough to understand the subject of apologetics and won’t eat up your time.

Jason Petersen: Apologetics Made Simple, will likely be the shortest book on apologetics that I will ever write. The books on apologetics that I will write in the future will be significantly more detailed. I won’t rule out another book that is as short as this one, but it is unlikely that I will make another Apologetics book that is like Apologetics Made Simple.

Delighting Grace: So Jason please invite our readers to get a copy of your book Apologetics Made Simple and also check out other stuff from you.

Jason Petersen: I would encourage anyone who is interested in apologetics to buy my book, Apologetics Made Simple. I am also an entrepreneur that has been blessed with financial success by God. I wrote another book called, Building Wealth Made Simple, that gives an outline on my philosophy of personal finance and investing. My author website is jasonlpetersen.com.

 

Squad Goals: Delighting Grace Interviews Theron St. John

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The millenial crowd is the in thing right now. If you know words like “lit”, “bae”, “tbh” or “jk” your the crowd I’m talking to. But beyond the slang , there is something that every generation will eventually face.  Whether you’re a millenial, Generation X or a Baby Boomer, like any other human being, it will come to a point that you’ll ask serious questions of your existence. “Who am I?”, “Why do I exist?”, and “What happens when I die?” are something to ponder out. And it do have a connection to the things we pursue. We connected to Theron St. John to find out what Millenials do when confronted with these “Why” questions on life.

Delighting Grace: What do you think is the one mistake most millennials do in finding purpose?

Theron St. John: I am not sure I would say this is the one mistake, but a major mistake millennials make in their pursuit is they believe purpose is something they create. In other words, we live in a postmodern day and age where we are told there is no absolute truth. With no absolute truth, there is no ultimate purpose. Truth is relative, and purpose is left up to the individual to create. However, the reality is truth is absolute and it is found in God’s Word. It is in God’s Word we discover the ultimate purpose of life, glorifying God! To state it succinctly, then, millennials make a mistake when they believe they create their own purpose for life rather than understanding they can discover it and find it as it has been revealed by the Creator!

Delighting Grace: What do millennials think about when they hear the word “purpose”?

Theron St. John: When millennials hear the word “purpose”, the question, “Why do I exist?” comes to mind. One encouraging aspect I see from my fellow millennials is the desire to know “why”. They don’t want to go through life living out a meaningless existence. They know there is something bigger than themselves to live for. I think that is, in part, why millennials are viewed more as activists on issues than maybe other and older generations. That said, millennials miss the point on answering why they exist if they believe they are in the driver’s seat, so to speak. Humanity must look to the One who has created life to discover the purpose of life, because there is something more to life than what millennials are living.

Delighting Grace: Some Christians do pray to find purpose which is a great thing. But sometimes they just rely in praying more than pursuing something. So how much praying and pursuing must a Christian do in finding purpose?

Theron St. John: This question reminds me of the oft-asked question, “What is God’s will for my life?” You are right to say praying for purpose and understanding of God’s will is a great thing. Most certainly, we should be praying regularly for God to give us wisdom in this. I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, which reads, “pray without ceasing”. Following that verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. We see the revealed will of God is found in the Word of God. When it comes to particulars and specific issues in everyday life, we glean wisdom from God’s Word. Without giving a quantity of time, I’ll say this: In our pursuits, our prayer needs to be coupled with the study and application of God’s Word.

Delighting Grace: As a single and a youth pastor, how should a millennial prepare to pursue marriage? How do you prepare yourself in marriage?

Theron St. John: Much could be said on preparing for and pursuing marriage, but if I may paint with broad strokes, I (and any Christian millennial) would be wise to pursue and prepare for marriage by developing and deepening a relationship with God and with His church. Of course, a relationship with God through Jesus Christ must be central and first. What this looks like in practical terms is depending on God in prayer to empower you by the Holy Spirit to make purity a priority in your life and to be wise in romantic relationships. As well, knowing God through His Word will show you where you need to grow in Christlike character and it will shape the qualities you ought to be looking for in a potential spouse (for more of this subject, please click here).

A second relationship a Christian millennial like myself should develop and deepen is with the local church. One of the worst things millennials can do when preparing and pursuing marriage is to neglect the wise counsel of brothers and sisters in Christ. Christians do not live autonomous lives but accountable lives. The place for such accountability is the local church. I know from experience the blessing of wise counsel given to me from faithful friends in the local church. I was delivered from some heartache and poor choices because I heard and heeded the wise counsel of those in my local church.

Delighting Grace: There had been floods of books in the 2000 and until now that attaches the word “purpose”. So how do “Something More” stand out among these “purpose” books.

Theron St. John: Something More stands out because of the book’s aim and audience. The aim of the book is to provide a basic framework for understanding our pursuit, identifying the problems, and pointing to the solution. The book is meant to serve as an evangelistic tool, equipping Christian millennials to take their non-Christian friends through the material. Because the book’s ideal audience involves reaching non-Christians, the book does not explicitly address the matter from a biblical worldview until the end of chapter 3 into chapter 4. In the typical Christian book on this topic, the worldview is stated upfront. My reasoning for the distinct structure is due to my target audience. I wanted to lay down some common denominators in our pursuit before showing how the Word of God exposes our problem and offers the solution. I believe the brevity of the book makes it useful as an evangelistic tool. (You can check selected quotes from the book by clicking here.)

Delighting Grace: I read Something More which is short and a great read. Can you tell us the process of producing that book?

Theron St. John: Since Something More is a self-published book the process was a little more flexible than it may have been otherwise. The idea for the book really started 2 ½ years prior. As I interact with those in my generation, I saw a need to produce a concise resource that would share the gospel in an engaging way. For about a year, I took down notes here and there when ideas on the book would come to mind. From there, the challenge was to write the books in a concise manner. Once I did complete that phase, I had friends who serve in student and campus ministry read the book and offer suggestions. After taking their suggestions, I had a couple of other people give feedback, and they edited the book’s grammar and structure. Case in point, the process of producing a book takes commitment and, if it is be done well, is a community project.

Delighting Grace: Thank you for this opportunity Theron. Please do invite our readers to get a copy of “Something More”. Also invite them to check your blog and social media accounts. 

 Theron St. John: You’re welcome. I am grateful for the opportunity to share and for your graciousness in interviewing me. Below is how you can find more of my writings and connect with ‘Entrusted By God’:

Link to Something More book

Link to Blog: http://www.entrustedbygod.org

Link to FB: www.facebook.com/entrustedbygod

Link to Twitter: www.twitter.com/entrustedbygod

Link to Instagram: www.instragram.com/entrustedbygod

Delighting Grace: Any parting advice to a millennial who is down and can’t find purpose in his or her life?

Theron St. John: My counsel to them would be to examine where they have sought purpose in the past. From there, I would encourage them to recognize the symptoms of their problem but also look for the diagnosis of the problem. Only when the symptoms (fruit problem) lead us to a diagnosis (root problem) can we offer the proper solution. These three elements are covered in chapters 2–5 of Something More. First and foremost, they are revealed in God’s Word. So, if I had to condense the answer in a tweet-size sentence, I would say: If you are down and can’t find purpose, don’t look within yourself but look in God’s Word and look up at the cross of Jesus Christ.

(Theron St. John and the author of this blog also contributes articles on Top Christian Books (TCB Media). Check them out and all other stuff at www.topchristianbooks.online)

 

Pastor Talk: Delighting Grace Interviews Jon Hawkins of Pastor Discussions Podcast (Part 2)

onc7eomLets continue our chat with Jon Hawkins, one of the pastor of Pastor Discussions Podcast that will hit the internet on January 6, 2017.

 Delighting Grace:  How can listeners interact with you guys and be part Pastor Discussions Podcast?

Jon Hawkins:   We have a website set up (www.pastordiscussions.com) and on the front page, there is a contact form. People can fill that out and get in touch with us that way. They can email us at pastordiscussions@gmail.com. They can  head over to Facebook and “like” the Pastor Discussions Podcast page. We just launched that about 2 days ago and already have been given show fodder. It’s great! If you want to stay up to date on upcoming shows and giveaways, you can join our mailing list (details on the website).

In the future we will be adding a group on Facebook for discussion of show content or anything else really. We are also looking at doing some shows on Google Hangout that are just question shows. People can jump on and ask questions and we will talk about them live. Another thing we are looking at is doing a T4G meet up where anyone that’s at T4G can meet up, hang out and chat. We might even record a show live at T4G. If any of our listeners have more or better ideas, we would love to hear them.

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Delighting Grace:  I’m excited already for your podcast. You said that you dont have any experience in podcasting? So now you have one what lessons have you learned in producing a show?

Jon Hawkins:   I have been on a podcast, but I have never had to deal with all the technical aspects of recording it. I just showed up and clicked a link. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that God puts the right people in your life to help you do the things He wants you to do. Other podcasters have reached out and helped, we have people in our church that have helped and that have given technical advice, people like you have shown interest in what we are doing and offered to promote it, and there have been people that have been excited to be on the show.

It’s funny because don’t drop our premier episode until January 16th, but people are already excited about it. It’s just been amazing to see God bring the right people at the right time as we stepped out in faith. The second lesson I’ve learned is that quality is a must. We have invested in some good mics so that the content sounds good. As I’ve been researching podcasts, there are a lot that I stopped listening to within the first 5 minutes because of the audio quality. I’ve also learned that you can find tutorials for just about anything on YouTube.

Delighting Grace:  For you what might be a sticky topic that you might encounter in future episodes? Is Pastor Discussion Podcast open for controversial topics?

Jon Hawkins:   There are probably 1000 sticky topics because everyone has topics that they are passionate about and have strong feelings about. We have no issues talking about controversial topics because I think that part of the Christian life is dealing with controversial issues using the Bible. The gospel itself is controversial. It causes divisions and is an aroma of death to those who are perishing and an aroma of life to those who are being saved. Paul certainly talked about controversial issues. I’m preaching through Romans currently and Jew/Gentile relations was a massively controversial topic. So while we don’t want to be known for being controversial for the sake of being controversial, I’m sure we will hit on some issues that will cause some people to disagree passionately.

I think the key is to always stay tethered to the Bible and to speak the truth in love and grace. There is a way to say truth and be a jerk. We don’t want to do that. Anything is on the table though and we will try to be gracious and loving while at the same time, standing on our convictions from the Bible and if it’s a secondary issue, my hope is that we can discuss it, disagree with charity, and still be friends. Christians need to learn to disagree with charity and brotherly love. In a culture where disagreement means that you get demonized and are labeled “intolerant”, Christians need to learn how to have hard conversations and challenge one another without breaking fellowship or turning on each other. That will be our aim.

Delighting Grace: Can we have a sort of teaser on how episode #1 will go?

Jon Hawkins:   We are actually dropping 2 episodes on Jan 16th.

Delighting Grace: Wow two episodes!

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Jon Hawkins:   We want to give people a couple of shows to listen to so they can see if it’s something they will enjoy and want to be a part of. Al I ask is if you don’t like the first two shows, maybe stick around. Hopefully we will get better at this. So the first episode will be a kind of intro to the show. We will introduce ourselves and tell a little bit about why we are doing this show and what listeners can expect in the future. We will also be announcing the winners of a giveaway we are running (details on the website). The second one is a secret. You’ll have to check out the feed on Jan 16th but I am really excited about it.

Delighting Grace: The second episode is a secret folks. So better check it out. Please invite our readers to come check you out and how they can get connected with the podcast.

Jon Hawkins:   Thank you for taking the time to read this and giving me an opportunity to share a little about what we are doing. I’d like to invite you to be a part of it and join the discussion. We premier on January 16th, 2018, but the show is already up and active so you can subscribe to the podcast. You can find it on iTunes (https://apple.co/2lKiHZr), Stitcher (http://bit.ly/2CxOszg) and Spreaker (http://bit.ly/2CHJzkU). You can sign up for our mailing list and find show info and promo/giveaway info on our website, www.pastordiscussions.com. You can also find us on social media. Facebook (www.facebook.com/pastordiscussions), Twitter (@RealPDPodcast) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/pastordiscussions). Finally, you can email us a pastordiscussions@gmail.com.

Thank you again for your time and thank you Nitoy for allowing us to share about what God is doing. We are really excited about this and looking forward to having a weekly conversation about doctrine, faith and the Christian life.

Delighting Grace: Again it’s a pleasure giving a hand to your podcast. Guys mark your calendars, January 16 Pastor Discussions Podcast will premier and we hope you’ll listen to it and share it with your friend. God bless and Enjoy Jesus!

 

(Pastor Discussions Podcast premieres January 16, 2018. Check their website www.pastordiscussions.com to listen to their podcast, subscribe to the mailing list and enter exciting giveaways.)

Pastor Talk: Delighting Grace Interviews Jon Hawkins of Pastor Discussions Podcast (Part 1)

onc7eomThere’s a new podcast on the block and Delighting Grace wants you to tune in. It features a couple pastors having a conversation about doctrine, faith and Christian life. Its’ called Pastor Discussion Podcast. It will hit the internet on January 16 and it will be awesome. So DG talked to Jon Hawkins about the podcast.

Delighting Grace:  Hi Jon, please tell us what’s Pastor Discussion Podcast?

Jon Hawkins: First, let me say thank you for reaching out and inviting us to share what God is doing with your readers. I really appreciate you including us in your blog.

Delighting Grace:  It’s a pleasure helping you guys out.

Jon Hawkins:  The Pastor Discussions Podcast is your weekly conversation about doctrine, faith and the Christian life with a couple of rural pastors. The idea is to invite the listener to join a weekly conversation about issues that they face and that are relevant to their lives. There are a lot of Christian podcasts out there and so we considered whether or not this was even something that was needed.

What we started noticing is that there are sermon podcasts, podcasts with one or two hosts talking with each other, podcasts that are simply interviews with famous people, and podcasts like Ask Pastor John where the pastor fields questions. We wanted to not only let the listeners drive the content through sending us topics for shows, but also include them in the show. We plan on regularly having listeners, fellow pastors, and church members on the show. The aim is a kind of podcast community where people feel like they are a part of the show and give them things to talk about with their friends and family so they can be more active in growing in their faith.

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Delighting Grace:  How did you guys came up with this podcast? Who’s idea was it?

Jon Hawkins:  I have been thinking about it for a while. We have a group of guys that meet together weekly and it’s a time of fellowship and laughter, but we also talk about the Bible or situations we are facing in our lives. At one point one of the guys said “I wish that people could just experience this. That they could just listen and see how natural and beneficial it is to talk about the Bible or Christ with other people who will sharpen and challenge you”. That got me thinking. Our church has grown and we are no longer a small church, but we are also not a big church. We are in this sort of in-between stage and learning how to function that way. There are blessings to growth, but also challenges. Because of that, it is hard to find time to do discipleship with a large part of our congregation like I would like to. At best, I can meet with 4-5 people on a weekly basis and that’s wonderful, but I wanted to produce content that is easily accessible and practical for our church as a whole and is plug and play so it could accommodate people’s schedules.

Delighting Grace:  I think we all struggle with that part and we really need to address it through digital means.

Jon Hawkins:   So I started asking how we could leverage the blessing of technology to not only help address things that Christians in our church face, but also reach a broader population and minister to the Christian community as a whole. So I talked to the two other staff pastors about starting a podcast. We wanted to model what Christian conversations look like as well as give people content to talk about in their homes, to think about throughout the week, and to study in the Bible for themselves. I think a lot of Christians have never experienced what it looks like to talk about doctrine, faith and the Christian life without it feeling forced or cheesy or what it looks like to be sharpened by someone else. There are also others who don’t feel like they could contribute to a conversation like that because they feel they don’t know enough or something like that. I know I felt that way, but there were men in our church when I was a young Christian that invited me into those conversations.

I listened and thought and asked questions and grew as a result of that. A lot of Christian growth comes from talking about God and life, listening, and learning to see the world through the lens of the gospel. So that’s what we wanted to replicate using the medium of podcast. We are hoping that it will spur conversation within homes and friends, but especially that there would be people in our church that ask questions about a show and give us more of an opportunity to walk with them through their relationship with Christ and see it deepen and grow.

Delighting Grace:  Who are the pastors that will be on board on the podcast?

Jon Hawkins:   All three of us staff pastors will be regularly involved. Pastor Joe is our Pastor for Worship and Pastor Jonathan is our Pastor for Family Ministry. Both of them bring something unique to the show and have great perspectives. Joe has a tremendous grasp on worship and outreach and Jonathan is a Biblical Counselor and has a heart to see parents actively involved and leading in the discipleship and evangelism of their children. He is also a gifted writer and is planning on doing some blogging on the Pastor Discussions website. In addition to them, we will also have guest pastors on the show. We have some guys lined up from Chicago, rural Nebraska, Canada, the Dominican Republic and everywhere in between. Guys in cities and guys in small towns. There is also an open invitation to John Piper, Matt Chandler, and Kevin DeYoung, but they must have lost my email address 😉

Delighting Grace:  Whoa, John Piper on your show, that will be awesome!  There are lots of podcast out there in the internet, what makes “Pastor Discussion” unique?

Jon Hawkins:   I think there are a few ways that Pastor Discussions will be unique. First, we want to have listeners drive the content. We want to hear from them on what they want us to talk about and then we will talk about it. We aren’t extremely limited in our scope because the Christian life and the implications of what following Christ means in our daily interactions isn’t limited to one area or topic.

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Second, we are unique in that we want to not only talk about issues, but hear real stories from Christians on how God has been faithful in their lives. We want to help people share their unique experiences of God’s grace and faithfulness to encourage others.

Third, it’s unique because we don’t want a niche. We want to address issues that people of different races and genders care about. We want to minister to a lot of different kinds of Christians. For example, we want to have women on the show and help encourage Christian women to be women of “Velvet Steel” (a term coined by John Piper). We might even be able to talk our wives into being on the show… It’s a long shot, but who knows. We want to have conversations on racism with minority brothers and sisters and address issues that they face and help people understand their perspective and then work talk through what the Bible has to say about that TOGETHER.

Finally, we are unique because of the guys on the show. We are serious when we need to be, but we are friends that like to laugh, joke around, and poke at one another. We are really trying to give people a glimpse into our friendship and the fellowship that flows out of that. We want to be a show where a husband and wife, parents and kids, or a group of friends can sit down together, listen and be entertained and challenged, and then have some good, edifying conversation afterwards about the content.

Delighting Grace: Now that’s something to look forward to. How can listeners interact with you guys to be part of the show?

(To be continued next week. Pastor Discussions Podcast premieres January 16, 2018. Check their website www.pastordiscussions.com to listen to their podcast, subscribe to their mailing list and enter giveaways.)

Help promote Pastor Discussion Podcast: Download and share it on your social media these promotional posters:  https://www.dropbox.com/sh/c0p033c6n5f20f8/AADkmN1Mg8r6tTPkaweyBUuqa?dl=0

Rooted on Theology: Delighting Grace Interviews Brandon Smith

The word “theology” sometimes drives us to shudder. We know it’s essential but we find it too complex or too boring to discuss. However, we won’t fully know who God is and His way if we don’t sound theology.  Delighting Grace recently reach out to Brandon Smith, author of “Rooted” and talked about theology, his latest book and a new podcast:

Delighting Grace: Hello pastor! How important is theology?

Brandon Smith: Theology is at the center of the Christian life. Theology is about God, the Bible teaches theology, the gospel is a theological message, and the Christian life reflects God theologically. In other words, all of life is about theology.

Theology just means “words about God.” So when we talk about God, we are doing theology. Everyone is a theologian–it just depends on whether you’re a good or bad theologian.

Delighting Grace: What are some reasons why people tend to sway away from theology?

Brandon Smith:  People often think theology is a professional sport or an academic discipline. There is an academic form of theology that’s extremely important, but that doesn’t mean that theology is only for academics (or even pastors). When we say, “God is in control” or “Jesus is Lord,” you’re speaking and believing theology. We shouldn’t be afraid of theology because if you’re a Christian, you’re a theological person.

Delighting Grace: Well said pastor. We believers should not be scared of theology. In your calling, how do theology shapes you as a pastor?

Brandon Smith: Pastors and Christian leaders must know theology better than anyone else. As says, we will be held accountable. False teachers are specifically called out in Scripture. As a pastor or leader, it’s your job to teach sound theology. There should be a difference between you and the Mormon bishop down the street.

So, to answer your question more directly, theology has always helped me be a good pastor and leader. It’s difficult to counsel someone who’s hurting when you don’t know how to tell them the truth about God’s love and mercy and grace, and about how all things work together for good. But remember, theology should shape us all this way. It’s not just the pastor’s job to counsel others with sound truth.

Delighting Grace:  If a pastor wants to teach theology in a church, what advice can you give to them if that’s their first time to do it?

Brandon Smith: Don’t take it too seriously, as if your sermons need to become seminary lectures. Theology is serious business, but every sermon has theology in it. It’s your job not to merely teach theological lessons, but to show people how those beautiful truths matter for everyday life.

 

Delighting Grace:  Wow great advice. You wrote a book titled “Rooted” which according to the book, it’s a primer. So why write a primer when you can write a whole book on theology?

Brandon Smith: There are plenty of 1,000-page theology books in the world. I’m thankful for them, but most people won’t read them. We wanted to write a short, accessible book that anyone could read. Part of why I think people stay away from theology is that they feel intimidated by the size and language of theology books. No one should be intimidated by Rooted.

Delighting Grace:  How’s the process in writing a book? Also how is like J. A. Medders as a co-author?

Brandon Smith:  Writing a book is hard work. It’s not always or even often fun. Rooted took several years of editing and changing and reimagining. I enjoy the process, but most of the time writing the book was late nights with a cup of coffee, forcing myself to get words on the page.

(Jeff) made writing Rooted fun and exciting. I had already written much of the book, but he brought the words to life. He’s one of the most creative and powerful writers out there, and people will keep learning that as he writes more. He’s a writing freight train and I’m just along for the ride.

Delighting Grace:  Your book is awesome pastor. Read it and I learn a lot. So please invite them to check out “Rooted”.  You have a new podcast you and I also enjoy?

Brandon Smith:  Thank you! I love Rooted. It’s like watching a baby grow up and finally go off into the big, scary world. You’re nervous, but you know it’s ready.

Yes, the podcast has been a blast. It’s called Word Matters, and it consists of short episodes in which Trevin Wax and I discuss confusing or difficult passages of the Bible. Each episode is 15-20 minutes long, and we always try to give practical advice about how to preach and teach the passages we cover. We also have guests from time to time!

Delighting Grace:  Any parting words for our readers concerning theology?

Brandon Smith:  Again, don’t be afraid of theology. If you’re a Christian, you’re a theologian. Keep hungering and thirsting for righteousness by reading God’s Word and praying, and your theology will grow along with it.

Delighting Grace:  Amen to that pastor. So guys check his latest book “Rooted” and the podcast with Trevin Wax called “Word Matters”.

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