Friday, May 18, 2012

Finding Unity Through Autonomy: Is that Possible?

This week I received an email from our association of churches regarding the “Week of Prayer for Associational Missions.” Right here from the beginning I want to make something very, very clear. I am not writing this blog article in order to defame or criticize any individuals involved in the association or the association itself. I am writing this blog article to discuss an idea that permeates through evangelical churches and denominations that not only can be, but has been disastrous to the mission given of Christ to the Church to make disciples. I want us as Christians to think critically through what we are saying and the consequences of what we believe and what we say and what we do. I ask that you please read this article through remembering although I am quoting something that has been published by an association, my intentions are to make a point questioning whether we as Christians can find unity through the autonomy of our churches. The publication I received reads:

The Southern Baptist Convention has designated this week as the Week of Prayer for Associations. The _____ _______ Baptist Association is made up of churches who cooperate to do missions and to support one another. Cooperation among churches and believers are important to doing God’s work in ________ County and around the world.

This week we will be praying for lostness in our county.

Today’s prayer request is to focus on Cooperation and Unity among our churches. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one. He also said in that as the Father had sent Him that he was sending us. Let us pray that we would obey his command to go and that we echo Jesus prayer for unity among our ministers and member to glorify him and that people would be saved.

John 17:21-23:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 20:21:
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

There are two points of emphasis here in this request for prayer; cooperation and unity. This prayer request though is tainted in many ways, not because it speaks of cooperation and unity, but because it says, “Cooperation and Unity among our churches” (emphasis added) and then the request goes on to quote John 17:21-23 which has to do with unity with Jesus, unity with the Father, and the unity of all believers. Now I know that this may seem overly critical, but I want to make a simple point. How can Baptist churches or any denomination for that matter, cooperate and be united to one another when they are autonomous. Can these churches truly cooperate and be united at the same time? I say no and mainly it is a negative based upon semantics.
Cooperation is really another way of saying that we have a sense uniformity of ideals or appearance for a purpose of mutual benefit without the necessity of being unified in thought and practice. Unity on the other hand is defined as:

The state of being one; oneness. Unity may consist of a simple substance or existing being, as the soul; but usually it consists in a close junction of particles or parts, constituting a body detached from other bodies. Unity is a thing undivided itself, but separate from ever other thing. 

American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition

Unity is not the same as cooperation. Yes, I can see that there is without a doubt the ability  for these Baptist churches to cooperate in the task that they are called to and that that they might in word have the same uniform purpose of making disciples, but is that what God has called His Church to be? Is that what John 17 is talking about? Is there to be oneness amongst only Baptists or only a particular association of Baptists or is John 17 about unity and oneness among Christ’s bride, His Church? I believe wholeheartedly that it is the latter. Yes, there might be a sense of cooperation amongst the Church today, but there is not unity and praying about unity is not enough.
To pray for unity without searching Scripture to know what true unity is, and then not obey what God’s Word says, is useless. Just look at James 2:14-26 (ESV):

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

We learn in the catechisms as children that prayer is asking God for things He has promised to give. So prayer for unity without action on behalf of what is revealed is dead; no differently than faith without action is dead. If we are going to pray for unity, we do not get to redefine what unity is. We do not get to add to or take away from God’s Word the definition God has given for unity, but we must act on it. Unity has to do with more than just bearing with one another. We find in Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV) that it says:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Using this Scripture alone we can see the problem. The unity described here is not about a denomination, but Christ’s Church. This is where the problem lies. This is where the spirit of unity and conformity and cooperation break down. You see, here is where the dividing line is drawn in the sand per se. We can “bear with another,” meaning we can stand to be around one another for a period of time, but when it comes to unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace which is one body called to one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God…we become divided. Why? It is not just because doctrinal divides, but more importantly denominational divides. We can stand together for social causes, but when it comes to the purpose of Christ’s Church to make disciples and to be light-bearers of Him, we cannot do it. We cannot even do it among denominational lines. There is as much division within individual denominations as there is amongst the different denominations. And we wonder why the world looks at “Christianity” and turns its nose up.

We have become a disgrace to the name of Christ. What would Paul have written our churches about what we done to Christianity? Would he not have praised the Corinthian church over us? If we truly want to see Christ made famous in our world and if we want to see our lives and families and communities and our world transformed by Christ, then our churches, and our denomination and our associations need to be transformed by Christ. We need to start putting God’s Word before ourselves. We need to start putting His truth before our denominational traditions and man-made and man-centered doctrines. We need to realize that our denominations as they stand today have become but beautiful white-washed tombs on the outside, but on the inside they are full of dead man’s bones (Matthew 23:27). While we have beautiful buildings and awesome worship services that we choose to come and congregate together around, there remains an underlying stench of a decaying body. Is that what you want to be known for as Christians? Is that what you want the epitaph of your church and your denomination to be? No, then do something about it. If you don’t want to do anything about, then stop using the word unity and please do not pray for it, because it just becomes a clanging cymbal in the ears of God and it makes the rest of us Christians who want true unity look foolish in the eyes of a lost and dying world. Don’t claim to desire to make disciples, when what you really mean is to make Baptists and Episcopals and Lutherans and Methodists and Presbyterians, or whatever denominational affiliation you hold to, instead of making disciples of Christ that follow His commands found in His Word and not out charters and our confessions and our covenants. May we find true unity.

Because Christ’s love compels,

Russell Traweek

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Too Reformed to be Baptist" Part Two

Last week, I began a blog series called, “Too Reformed to be Baptist.” Please understand that in most circles I am too reformed to be Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Non-denominational, etc.  The title of the article has nothing to do with bashing a particular denomination or lack thereof. The article has to do with an outright rejection of that which is “reformed” or orthodox to the Christian faith and particularly the Reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin. In fact, the original article has to do with a particular rejection from a Southern Baptist leader specifically because of the word “covenant” which might and does correspond with reformed teaching. Today, I want to address what it means to be reformed.

While there are many denominational teachings on reformational thinking, we must understand that all reformation began with Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany in 1517. Whether any denomination wants to acknowledge it or not, the religious freedom that we have and practice is much owed to Martin Luther and his firm stance for truth and against the prostitution of the grace of God to parishioners by church leaders. Reformation is a word that in itself brings cringes to some because it dictates that something someone or some group or organization is doing is flawed.  Reformation as defined is:

The act of reforming; correction or amendment of life, manners, or of any thing vicious or corrupt; as the reformation of manners; reformation of the age; reformation of abuses; by way of eminence, the change of religion from the corruptions of popery to its primitive purity, begun by Luther, A.D. 1517 (American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828).

As I stated above, the word reformation in itself denotes that something is inherently wrong with what is going on, it is tainted and for it to pure and right and holy, it must return to its original state. This is why I believe there is great opposition among many Baptists, particularly Southern Baptists, today. When someone insinuates that what they are doing is flawed, of course they will come to the defense of their belief regardless of evidence presented.  It is a natural reaction to defend your plot of worldview. In fact, in many ways it is somewhat Biblical. Doesn’t 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (ESV) say, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete…”? I must commend anyone that at least questions teaching contrary to what they believe. It is absolutely the thing to do, but what about when our belief doesn’t hold up in the light of Scripture? What happens when our beliefs and our perspective is skewed by lackluster denominational teachings, rather than orthodoxy of Christianity? We must ask ourselves, has the Word of God and the doctrinal teachings changed or have we changed the Word of God and doctrinal teaching for our benefit? I believe it is the latter.

Now please hear me out. I was raised in Southern Baptist churches all of my life. All of my ministry has been in Southern Baptist churches, but in light of Scripture, God has systematically changed my perspective. I went from being an Arminian Southern Baptist, to a Calvinist Reformed Baptist, to a full-fledged Reformed Christian. Why? It is because in light of Scripture, outside of the filters of denominational affiliation, I could see only one thing to be true…God’s Word! I am convinced that God’s Word is enough for all things (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I am not the only one that has seen this. There are many great Reformed Baptists out there that agree regarding almost every area of Scripture except that which is in regards to baptism, which is one of the most highly contested and divisive areas in Christendom which we do not have time to discuss at this time. So what is the ruckus all about regarding being reformed? Well, it comes to down to foundational doctrine and a good example has to do with salvation. It is a debate between Arminianism and Calvinism. Here is a simple graph depicting the difference between the two.

Arminianism Calvinism
Free-Will or Human Ability
Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man's freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man's freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God's Spirit and be regenerated or resist God's grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit's assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man's act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner's gift to God; it is man's contribution to salvation.
Total Inability or Total Depravity
Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not - indeed he cannot - choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit's assistance to bring a sinner to Christ - it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of salvation - it is God's gift to the sinner, not the sinner's gift to God.
Conditional Election
God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based upon His foreseeing that they would respond to His call. He selected only those whom He knew would of themselves freely believe the gospel. Election therefore was determined by or conditioned upon what man would do. The faith which God foresaw and upon which He based His choice was not given to the sinner by God (it was not created by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit) but resulted solely from man's will. It was left entirely up to man as to who would believe and therefore as to who would be elected unto salvation. God chose those whom He knew would, of their own free will, choose Christ. Thus the sinner's choice of Christ, not God's choice of the sinner, is the ultimate cause of salvation.
Unconditional Election
God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response of obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause of God's choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God's choice of the sinner, not the sinner's choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.
Universal Redemption or General Atonement
Christ's redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of anyone. Although Christ died for all men and for every man, only those who believe on Him are saved. His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone's sins. Christ's redemption becomes effective only if man chooses to accept it.
Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement
Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ's redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.

I wrote in my book, The Breaking of the Strong Man: How Autonomy is Killing the Church, that :

Arminianism was submitted in Holland in 1610 but was rejected in 1619 on the ground that it was unscriptural and heretical by the Church at the Synod at Dort. Why then do people believe such things? People can believe such things because of the assumed autonomy of the believer: “That is what they believe, but I believe this instead.”

The Church stood against Arminianism with more than just doctrine, but the Word of God. Some think that the five points of Arminianism were trying to debunk “Calvinism” or the claims of predestination unto salvation. However, it is to the contrary. The five points of Calvinism, which were not formulated by Calvin himself, but by the Synod at Dort, were used to show that what was proposed by the Remonstrants of the Arminianist view was unbiblical. As a result over 300 ministers were expelled from the Dutch Church for their disagreement with the orthodox doctrinal teaching of the Church as heretics.

 So why is Calvinism and reformation looked at with such disdain by many Baptists and other evangelicals? If the Church prayerfully considered the arguments, but finds that the Arminianian view to be heretical, then why is there still this battle that rages behind the scenes in churches and denomination and seminaries? I believe it is because the selfish and sinful desires that war within us.  James 4:1-3 (ESV) says:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

When it comes to salvation, what men want is a God they can fathom and believe in that offers salvation to everyone and damnation is only the result of the individual's rejection rather than a just and holy who reveals that we ALL are fallen and by His sovereignty alone chose some unto salvation. Folks, I do not have the time to go through all the Scripture that tells us that the Arminian view is falsehood, but here are a few for your reading pleasure:

Total depravity—man because of his fallenness is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel...he is not free, but in bondage (Romans 2:12, 5:12, 3:9-24).

Unconditional election or God’s election—God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based on His own sovereign will (1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Ephesians 1:3-5, John 1:12-13).

Limited or Particular Atonement—Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and secured salvation for them alone (John 6:37-40, 10:27-28; 17:6-9).

Irresistible grace or effectual calling—although there is an external call to all who hear the Gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect and inward call…the external call can be and often is rejected, but the internal call made to the elect cannot be rejected (Philippians 2:12-13; Acts 13:42-38).

Perseverance or preservation of the saints—all who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved without ability to lose that which is done in them and for them (1 Peter 1:22-25; John 10:25-30).

Reformation for many of these Baptists and evangelicals would possibly mean that they would have to limit their altar calls and just call people to “be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20) recognizing that their responsibility is to be a mouthpiece of our Lord Jesus Christ and not play the role of the Holy Spirit leading, guiding, convicting, and convincing the hearer of the truth. They might have to remove their ABCs of becoming a Christian from their Vacation Bible Schools and just teach the same truth or better yet, allow their parents to lead to that truth. What then would they report on their annual church profiles?
I do not know what the complete answer is, but without a doubt, there needs to reformation in the Church today. We have cheapened and prostituted the grace of God making Jesus no more than our “yes man” while we live out our desires and our agendas rather than a different, separate, and sold out people unto Him. The reality is that there are many that sit in the pews of congregations around our nation that think they are saved because they walked an aisle and said a prayer one day at church or at a Vacation Bible School or at a revival or at a church camp, but they are lost without Jesus because they have never heard the call of God and surrendered to Him. They have “saved” themselves which is no salvation at all. The reality is that most pastors will not call them out to true salvation or call their churches to true reformation because of the fear of losing their “jobs” for doing so. The reality is some pulpits are filled with pastors who themselves are not saved and are blind guides leading the blind right off into the depths of hell. We need reformation in the Church today. We need Jesus and those who are afraid that it might come to their church, reveal their real fruit (Matthew 7:15-28).

Because Christ’s love compels,

Russell Traweek

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Too Reformed to Be Baptist"

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog article called Doctrine Divides in which I discussed the dangers of anti-intellectualism within the world and Christianity today. I wrote mostly in generalities, but as a whole I answered the accusation that “doctrine divides” with a rebuttal that it isn’t doctrine that ultimately divides us, but it is selfish ambition within us that desire for us to get what we want and how we want it and when we want it. It is such that we want to be right regardless of the truth that is presented. I will say that I wrote that particular article in generalities because ultimately I have never had to debate anyone more than on a surface level of this fallacy. However, this past week I received the egregious honor of this division bestowed upon me. Let me not hold out on you, but share with you the joy of persevering as saints but the additional honor of being persecuted by “saints.”

A few weeks ago, I put together a flyer and sent it to most of the Baptist Associations of churches in the state of Texas. This flyer was regarding a request for speaking engagements for a conference that I was offering called The Covenant Family. For the sake of any concerns about what I wrote in the flyer, here is the content of the flyer without costs of conference:

Dear Church Pastor,

Over the past 20 years of ministry, I have noticed something occurring across our communities, our state, and our nation that have caused great alarm for me. What I have noticed is that there has been systematic destruction of the family. Guess what? Churches are not immune from this. Families walk through the doors of our churches every week that outwardly look like they have it all together and they might even say so, but inwardly they are falling apart. Families are dealing with the same issues inside the Church as those outside. For starters, we have the same divorce rates inside the Church as there are outside the Church. Whether seen or unseen, there are issues of cohabitation, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, physical abuse, pornography, adultery, homosexuality, and other issues that go on and on right within the walls of our churches. We can deny these truths and say, “Not my Church”, but the reality is still there. The Church today is more American than it is Christian. Why is that? How has this happened? What are we to do? The issue of the family must be addressed, but where do we start?

I believe the answer is found in what is called, The Covenant Family. I have written, preached and taught on this subject extensively over the past few years in the church I pastor. I believe the call of God for His Church is to live as the Covenant Family that we find consistently in Scripture; for our God is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. We find this at Creation (Genesis 1:26-28), with Noah (Genesis 9:1-17), with Abraham (Genesis 17:1-14), with the Law (Deuteronomy 6, Joshua 24:1-28), with the New Covenant in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 2:37-41), and even down to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). Covenant is everywhere in Scripture.

I want to say it again. Our God is a covenant-making and a covenant-keeping God. He is faithful and He is true because He is truth. God never breaks covenant with His people, but most, if not all, of the covenants He has made are conditional. Covenants are not based on the condition of Him because He never changes. Rather, they are based upon our obedience to the covenants He has made with His people. This is true for the family. God has a plan for the family and when we obey His commands we receive the blessings associated with being the Covenant Family. Today, we see the result of not being obedient to His covenant around us in the world and in our churches. A shocking and heart-wrenching statistic for me is that less than 1% of families in Southern Baptist Churches have a time of family worship and devotion at least once a year. How can we as families obey God when we and our children do not know God’s Word or His commands?  Is this the Church’s responsibility alone? How do we break this trend in the families that attend our churches?

What I am offering you and your church is my experience, knowledge, service and time to provide a preaching/teaching series on the Covenant Family to your congregation, as well as, train your church leaders to continue this process of reclaiming God’s intent for the Covenant Family. This series can be taught through many different avenues and venue types including a single session, but for true authentic transformation in your church, it should include at least 4 sessions to get the heart of the issue, to call our families to a Biblical worldview, instruct them of what God has commanded us in His Word and then allow them to ask questions, in order to get answers on how they can begin applying God’s intent for the Covenant Family to their lives. Regardless of your church size, this is a teaching that needs to be brought to your church and your community.

We will address particularly the areas of:

• What is covenant?
• What is a Biblical family?
• What is the purpose of the Covenant Family?
• What is the role of men in the Covenant Family?
• What is the role of women in the Covenant Family?
• What is the role of children in the Covenant Family?
• What is the role of the Church in the Covenant Family?
• Identifying destructive and divisive elements standing against the Covenant Family!

Because Christ’s love compels,

Russell Traweek

Who would have known that offering such a conference would create a great doctrinal firestorm or even debate? Do you find anything suspicious or deceitful or threatening to Christendom contained in this document? Well, I had an association respond by email and as I saw the little icon in my Inbox, my heart jumped with joy and excitement. Then I opened the email and as reality set in, I did not know how to respond. It was a polite rejection of my offer. But why did they reject it? Why did the association refuse to send it on to its churches? Was it because they had their own ministry to families? Well, it is because…Well, here is their response:

While we would agree with your assessment, and the need for holiness and real life-transforming surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every believer, this is a Southern Baptist Association and we can advertise and promote only those events that are in total alignment with the doctrinal views of the member churches…

Who would have thought that a conference on the family would be rejected by any Christian denomination or an association of such churches? Especially Baptists, right? Don’t those guys believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture for all areas of Christian living (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? Don’t they believe in a Biblical view of marriage as one man and one woman for life? Don’t they believe in making disciples of all peoples and wouldn’t that include their families? Don’t they believe in family devotions and passing on God’s Word to their children by “training them in the way they should go (Proverbs22:6)? Well…yes that is what the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states. So what is so clearly damning about teaching on the covenant family that this association would declare it as unsound teaching? Well, because of the word covenant. Particularly, the word covenant causes a problem because they assumed it “was a reference to the reformed or covenant theological position, which the pastors of this association stand firmly against, both SBTC and BGCT“. What? They stand against a reformed or covenantal theological position and against the word “covenant”?

What does the word “covenant” mean that it could start such a barrage of reprisal? In Hebrew, it is the word בְּרִית (berÎyth pronounced ber-eeth) which means, “A Divine ordinance with signs or pledges.” In Greek it is the word διαθήκη (diathēkē pronounced dee-ath-ay'-kay) which means, “an arrangement, a compact, a testament...i.e. God’s covenant with Noah, Abram, people of Israel, and eventually the new covenant, available to all in Christ Jesus.” Nowhere in Scripture is covenant looked at as a bad thing, but as something that God has done and God has purposed. Covenant is consistently throughout Scripture and how God interacts with His people. From the Covenant of works in the Garden to the New Covenant made in Christ Jesus, God has covenanted with His people. Do they stand against the New Covenant and the salvation that Christ has brought? Do they stand firmly against Communion or “The Lord’s Supper” in which Christ Himself says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Corinthians 11:25, ESV)? Is Christ wrong here? Has He done something heretical? I think not and that is evidenced by the fact that they remember by participating in the sacrament. So are they being hypocritical or selective or are they just ignorant of what covenant is? I believe the answer to that question is a bit of each.

These opponents to covenant are hypocritical, because they say that covenant teaching is wrong and then they partake of that which is part of the New Covenant. It is selective, because they want the salvation that the New Covenant represents, but without the meaning of the language implied. It is also ignorance because it is easier to distort and cast blame against that which one does not understand, but stands in stark contrast to what one believes without looking at the evidence presented (both Biblical and historical) than it is to do the leg work and understand what is truly behind covenant and the teachings that follow it. Let me be very clear. I understand the fears that are encompassed within the unknown or that which is contrary to what I been taught all my life growing up for I myself was raised in a Southern Baptist Church, but is sinful to put the teachings of men and denominational affiliation above that which is consistent with Scripture and taught. I have made some major changes in my beliefs regarding salvation, baptism, discipleship, evangelism and even marriage and family because of the implications of covenant on the Christian life revealed throughout Scripture. In fact, it forced me to write a book which is right now at publication.

Over the next few weeks, I want to take my readers on a journey of what covenant and reformation really is. On my journey to know God and His Word more, what I found to be true is that for revival to occur in His Church there must reformation and for reformation to occur there must transformation (i.e. new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17). Take this journey with me and see without the blinders of relativism or denomination and see God’s Word through the eyes of a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God.

Because Christ’s love compels,

Russell Traweek