Blog Archives

Are We REALLY Totally Depraved?


total-depravity2Grab the kindling wood and bring your lighters! If you continue reading this post, you may feel the urge to use them!

At least that is what I anticipate with this post on Total Depravity.

Before you light the fire, you should know up front that this post is simply me letting you in on the discussions that take place inside my head!  I’m asking you to consider some of the questions I ask myself while I think out loud about what Total Depravity means.

To start off, let’s define terms:

The Western Protestant church views T.D. this way:   Total depravity is the fallen state of human beings as a result of Adam original sin. The doctrine of total depravity asserts that people are, as a result of the fall, not inclined or even able to love God wholly with heart, mind, and strength, but rather are inclined by nature to serve their own will and desires and to reject the rule of God.

“The immediate concomitant of the first sin was the total depravity of human nature. The contagion of his sin at once spread through the entire man, leaving no part of his nature untouched, but vitiating every power and faculty of body and soul.” Louis Berkhof

This means that the fundamental nature of mankind was changed on that day. Whatever Adam’s human nature was before his sin, it became something different after the fall.  As a result, Read the rest of this entry

The Total Inability of Calvin To Explain Man’s Ability to Respond to God?


Man's Inability and CalvinTotal: Completely, Absolutely

Inability: lack of sufficient power, resources, or capacity

It is true that humanity can not come to Christ unaided. The Scriptures and the early church agree on this. Both sides of the Monergism vs Synergism civil war agree on it. Without God’s grace no one is able to come to Christ. Period!

But what does that actually look like and how does it work? The truth of the matter is that no one really knows and those who say they do don’t understand what they are saying. How God works this out in humanity lies within the mystery of God himself.

Calvin and the “ists’ his teaching has inspired believe this means that humanity can not even respond to God unaided. They teach that man must first be born again and then exercise faith in Christ. One can not say “yes” to God until after the new birth takes place.  Which leads them to teach things like this:

“This doctrine of total inability which declares that men are dead in sin does not mean that all men are equally bad, nor that any man is as bad as he could be, nor that anyone is entirely destitute of virtue, nor that human nature is equal in itself, nor that man’s spirit in inactive, and much less does it mean that the body is dead… The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

“The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions.”

Essentially, reformed theology teaches that Read the rest of this entry

Holy Week Prayers: Saturday


holy-saturdayHoly Saturday:

 O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on his holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Are You Spending Your Life on Trivial Pursuits?


A third century Church Father once said that the devil majored in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds.  The older I get, the more I think the Desert Father was right. The enemy seeks to fill our lives with meaningless things (noise) so we don’t hear the truth of the Gospel.  He works to keep us busy and entertained (hurry) if we happen to embrace the truth of the Gospel so it makes little difference in our lives.  He strives to surround us with others who are doing the same thing (our friends, families, co-workers and the like) so that we don’t consistently  live out the truth of the Gospel, never seriously impacting our lives or the lives of those around us.

If ever there was a time in the history of the world where it’s easy to give oneself to meaningless things, it is now.  There are so many options, aren’t there?  Between Cityville, Castleville, Farmville, perusing Facebook, or tweeting about the mundane things of life, as if anyone cares (I still haven’t found anyone who actually cares that “I’m writing a new article for the blog!”), or spending endless hours on the internet and the like.

What about TV and movies? Do you know how much time we waste sitting in front of a TV?  It is startling.  Back in the pre-historic 1990’s a study came out which said that the average American, living a normal life span, would spend Read the rest of this entry

A Strong Argument Against Calvinisim? Part 3 You Decide….


Over here at Not For Itching Ears we like to discuss issues that challenge our view of Christianity and the Church.   It is healthy to consider what one believes about the Christian faith and how we express that faith in our corporate church life.  If all we ever do is listen to ourselves, we can inadvertently become the kind of people Paul warned Timothy about:  People who surround themselves with “teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear.”  Today’s post is an attempt to counter that tendency among us as we discuss Free-Will and Determinism.  To do this, we turn to an extremely interesting email exchange between Father John Whiteford (an Eastern Orthodox priest) and  some proponents of Calvinism.

This isn’t your typical argument!  Father Whiteford brings another line of argumentation to his view that is almost entirely absent from the typical back and forth between Calvinists and Arminians:  What did the early church fathers teach about this?

I recognize that there are three groups of people who will read a post like this:  1) Strong Calvinists who will want to defend their view.  2)Strong Arminians who will want to find ammo for their view and 3) those who don’t have their minds made up but may lean to one understanding of things.  My hope, is that all three groups of people will be challenged and encouraged.   It’s a long discussion so I will be breaking it up into three posts.  Read Part 1 Here, and part two here.  The third and final post …… Read the rest of this entry

A Strong Argument Against Calvinisim? Part 2 You Decide….


Over here at Not For Itching Ears we like to discuss issues that challenge our view of Christianity and the Church.   It is healthy to consider what one believes about the Christian faith and how we express that faith in our corporate church life.  If all we ever do is listen to ourselves, we can inadvertently become the kind of people Paul warned Timothy about:  People who surround themselves with “teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear.”  Today’s post is an attempt to counter that tendency among us as we discuss Free-Will and Determinism.  To do this, we turn to an extremely interesting email exchange between Father John Whiteford (an Eastern Orthodox priest) and  some proponents of Calvinism.

This isn’t your typical argument!  Father Whiteford brings another line of argumentation to his view that is almost entirely absent from the typical back and forth between Calvinists and Arminians:  What did the early church fathers teach about this?

I recognize that there are three groups of people who will read a post like this:  1) Strong Calvinists who will want to defend their view.  2)Strong Arminians who will want to find ammo for their view and 3) those who don’t have their minds made up but may lean to one understanding of things.  My hope, is that all three groups of people will be challenged and encouraged.   It’s a long discussion so I will be breaking it up into three posts.  Read Part 1 Here;  here’s part 2: Read the rest of this entry

A Strong Argument Against Calvinisim? Part 1 You Decide….


Over here at Not For Itching Ears we like to discuss issues that challenge our view of Christianity and the Church.   It is healthy to consider what one believes about the Christian faith and how we express that faith in our corporate church life.  If all we ever do is listen to ourselves, we can inadvertently become the kind of people Paul warned Timothy about:  People who surround themselves with “teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear.”  Today’s post is an attempt to counter that tendency among us as we discuss Free-Will and Determinism.  To do this, we turn to an extremely interesting email exchange between Father John Whiteford (an Eastern Orthodox priest) and  some proponents of Calvinism.

This isn’t your typical argument!  Father Whiteford brings another line of argumentation to his view that is almost entirely absent from the typical back and forth between Calvinists and Arminians:  What did the early church fathers teach about this?

I recognize that there are three groups of people who will read a post like this:  1) Strong Calvinists who will want to defend their view.  2)Strong Arminians who will want to find ammo for their view and 3) those who don’t have their minds made up but may lean to one understanding of things.  My hope, is that all three groups of people will be challenged and encouraged.   It’s a long discussion so I will be breaking it up into three posts.  Now, let the Discussion begin… Read the rest of this entry

A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (The Scriptures Alone) Part 4


I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest.  If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not.  I am very grateful that I have discovered them.  The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation:  Scripture Alone.   Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us.   I think he makes some good points.  It is a very long article, so I  broke it up into 4 parts.  Here’s the fourth and final part:

Read part 1 HERE,
Read Part 2 here,
Read part 3 here:

 THE ORTHODOX APPROACH TO TRUTH

“When, by God’s mercy, I found the Orthodox Faith, I had no desire to give Protestantism and its “methods” of Bible study a second look. Unfortunately, I have found that Protestant methods and assumptions have managed to infect even some circles within the Orthodox Church. The reason for this is, as stated above, that the Protestant approach to Scripture has been portrayed as “science.” Some in the Orthodox Church feel they do the Church a great favor by introducing this error into our seminaries and parishes. But this is nothing new; this is how heresy has always sought to deceive the faithful. As Saint Irenaeus said, as he began his attack on the heresies current in his day:

By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous opinions….

Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself.18

Lest any be mistaken or confused, let me be clear: the Orthodox approach to the Scriptures is not based upon “scientific” research into the Holy Scriptures. Its claim to understand the Scriptures does not reside in its claiming superior archaeological data, but rather in its unique relationship with the Author of the Scriptures. The Orthodox Church is the body of Christ, the pillar and ground of the Truth, and it is both the means by which God wrote the Scriptures (through its members) and the means by which God has preserved the Scriptures. The Orthodox Church understands the Bible because it is the inheritor of one living tradition that begins with Adam and stretches through time to all its members today. That this is true cannot be “proven” in a lab. One must be convinced by the Holy Spirit and experience the life of God in the Church.

The question Protestants will ask at this point is who is to say that the Orthodox Tradition is the correct tradition, or that there even Read the rest of this entry

A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (The Scriptures Alone) Part 3


I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest.  If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not.  I am very grateful that I have discovered them.  The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation:  Scripture Alone.   Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us.   I think he makes some good points.  It is a very long article, so I will break it up into 4 parts.  Here’s Part 3:  Read part 1 HERE  Read part 2 here

C. PROTESTANT INTERPRETIVE APPROACHES THAT DONT WORK

Even from the very earliest days of the Reformation, Protestants have been forced to deal with the fact that, given the Bible and the reason of the individual alone, people could not agree upon the meaning of many of the most basic questions of doctrine. Within Martin Luthers own life dozens of competing groups had arisen, all claiming to “just believe the Bible,” but none agreeing on what Read the rest of this entry

A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (The Scriptures Alone) Part 2


I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest.  If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not.  I am very grateful that I have discovered them.  The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation:  Scripture Alone.   Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us.   I think he makes some good points.  It is a very long article, so I will break it up into 3 parts.  Here’s Part 2:  Read part 1 HERE

FALSE ASSUMPTION # 2:

The Scriptures were the basis of the early Church, whereas Tradition is simply a “human corruption” that came much later.

“Especially among Evangelicals and so-called Charismatics you will find that the word “tradition” is a derogatory term, and to label something as a “tradition” is roughly equivalent to saying that it is Read the rest of this entry

A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (Scripture Alone) Part 1


I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest.  If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not.  I am very grateful that I have discovered them.  The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation:  Scripture Alone.   Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us.   I think he makes some good points.  It is a very long article, so I will break it up into 4 parts.  Here’s Part 1:

If we are to understand what Protestants think, we will have to first know why they believe what they believe. In fact if we try to put ourselves in the place of those early reformers, such as Martin Luther, we must certainly have some appreciation for their reasons for championing the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura (or “Scripture alone”). When one considers the corruption in the Roman Church at that time, the degenerate teachings that it promoted, and the distorted understanding of tradition that it used to defend itself -along with the fact that the West was several centuries removed from Read the rest of this entry

Does God Give Us Freedom To Worship Him Anyway WE Want to?


“If it feels good, do it!”

This has been one of the mottos of our culture since the 1960’s. Now it seems that the American church has adopted a similar pragmatic motto: “If it makes people feel good, we should use it.” Today we see church leaders of every persuasion trying all kinds of new things.   Even in corporate worship.  If it works in drawing more people into services then it “works” and must be stamped with the very approval of God Himself.  It appears that many church leaders are acting under the premise that we can worship God anyway we want to, as long as it is in spirit and truth. This is often just a code word for “Our way of worshipping God is acceptable to Him.  It must be, we love it and so do all the unbelievers who come and enjoy it.” But are they right?  Can we worship God anyway that WE want to?  Is there any possibility, at all,  that the way we worship Him could be unacceptable to HIM?

One of the things we should remind ourselves… Read the rest of this entry

John Piper: “Don’t Waste Your Life”


It is possible to waste your life. Few things make me tremble more than the possibility of taking this onetime gift of life and wasting it. Every morning when I walked into the kitchen as a boy I saw hanging on the wall the plaque that now hangs in my living room: “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” And now I am almost 58, and the river of life is spilling over the falls of my days with tremendous speed. More and more I smell eternity. And oh, how I want to use my life well. It is so short and so fragile and so final. You get one chance to live your life. And then the judgment. I speak as a father who has children your age, and I am jealous with Jesus that they and you not waste your life. “

“What is the unwasted life? What does it look like? What is the essence of the unwasted life?  Read the rest of this entry

Top Posts in January


Below you will find links to our top 5 posts in January.  Have a quick read and join the discussion!

#1. Pray This 400 Year Old Prayer: “Lord, Help Me Live a Life that Honors You!”

#2.  Would They Have Killed Jesus if HE Preached the Same Message the Church Preaches Today?

#3.  George Barna: The Seeker-Sensitive Church Model: Dumbing Down Disciples

#4.  A Prayer for The New Year: “Guide Me This Year, Lord”

#5.  The Offensive, Attractive Cross

The Centrality of The Bible


John Piper says:

“We are a people of the Book. We know God through the Book. We meet Christ in the Book. We see the cross in the Book. Our faith and love are kindled by the glorious truths of the Book. We have tasted the divine majesty of the Word and are persuaded that the Book is God’s inspired and infallible written revelation. Therefore, what the Book teaches matters… Read the rest of this entry

The Offensive, Attractive Cross


“The curious paradox of the atoning death of a bloody Jesus rising above the plane of human history with a mocking crown of thorns is that he is offensive in an attractive way. It is the utter horror of the cross that cuts through the chatter, noise, and nonsense of our day to rivet our attention, shut our mouths, and compel us to listen to an impassioned dying man who is crying out for the forgiveness of our sins and to ask why he suffered… Read the rest of this entry

Does God Care How We Worship?


The past twenty-five years has seen the corporate worship of the evangelical church radically transformed.  Throughout the years, the  liturgy of the early church and the liturgy of the modern church had been very similar.  But that all changed with the arrival of the seeker-sensitive movement that the church has largely embraced.  The modern seeker-sensitive church meeting bares very little resemblance to the historical church… Read the rest of this entry

What Are You Thankful For?


Thanksgiving has arrived!  If you are like me, you are busy getting ready for the big day.   There will be lots of food, visiting family and friends,  football, pie and shopping on Friday (I need a new laptop!).   With all these activities, it is easy to forget that the whole purpose of the day is to give thanks to God for all he has done in our lives.  As Americans, we have a lot to be thankful even in these hard economic times.  Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ have the ultimate reason to be thankful.  Not just on Thanksgiving day, but every second of every day… Read the rest of this entry

When Did “Worship” Become the Singing of a Song?


The memory is forever etched in my mind.  It was a typical Sunday, the service was over. There was a line of people who wanted to talk to me. One of them was our sound guy, who said  “Worship was great today pastor!  Your guitar solo was AWESOME!”   I remember this comment for two reasons.  It was the first time in my ministry where I realized that people were equating songs with worship.  What he meant was that he liked the songs we played.  Even then, I knew that worship was much more than singing or listening to a song.  The other troubling part for me was that I did not have any guitar solos, and the guy who thought I did was the soundman!  (He had taken too many drugs as a young man, and apparently heard things that were not there.  Not good if you are a sound guy.  I guess I should be happy he did not imagine a really bad solo, but I digress.) Read the rest of this entry

Not For Itching Ears!


Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the serious issues that exist within the American Evangelical church.  It is a  place for like minded people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject.  Our opinion is that the church in America is in serious trouble and has lost its way.  If you believe that, then this will be an excellent forum for you.  Our goal is not to bash the church.  Rather, the goal is to bring people together to encourage one another and talk about solutions… Read the rest of this entry