Monday, March 30, 2009


You will find below a story of an American soldier that may not appeal to all of you. But it DOES appeal to me as an American citizen for several reasons.

One-- is because, as I said, I'm an American citizen and believe I have a great debt that I owe to those who wear the uniform and protect our country from foreign enemies especially those who attack us on our shores as 9-11 evidenced they can and will.

Two--is because I have a grandson in training with the Marine Corp at this moment and I know he will probably be shipped to Afganistan when boot camp is finished and I would want double care taken when dealing with him or any other soldier when they are engaging the enemy in an atmosphere of war.

Three--is because I have another grandson who went to school with the young man accused, convicted and sentenced to 25 years in Leavenworth. It is his testimony that there will not be found a better person or soldier than the one who is now in prison for the next quarter of a century with no possibility of parole.

I'm not asking about your view of the biblical position on war or anyone's view of the justice/injustice of the present war on terror, though you are free to comment about either if you wish. There are differing views about that I'm sure and the right to disagree about those things certainly exists also. But my concern here is that the truth be known and heard about this specific case because of my concern for him and others who may follow in like responsibilities.

I must confess I have a lot of research to do myself and will be doing just that. I'm going to also do what I can to get our politicians to carefully reconsider what has happened here for the sake of justice.

But as a christian I will be praying for this young man and his family and invite you to do the same.

[I will AlWAYS face issues like this with my eye on the fact that as a christian I'm a citizen of another country and the gospel being shared will always trump the pain or injustices one might suffer in this or any other country. So I would desire my hope for justice in any matter as a citizen and as an American would never be the angry or mean-spirited kind so as to diminish my voice being heard when the true gospel is presented. But sometimes a christian citizen just has to appeal to Caesar. You get the scriptural inference I'm sure.]

The Story

Michael Behenna

On March 20th, 2009, 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing a known Al Qaeda operative while serving in Iraq. The “victim”, Ali Mansur, was known to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell operating in the lieutenant’s area of operation, and was suspected to have organized an attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon in April 2008 which killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two more. Army intelligence ordered the release of Mansur and Lt. Behenna was ordered to return the terrorist to his home.

During the return of Mansur, Lt. Behenna again questioned the Al Qaeda member for information about other members of the terrorist cell, and financial supporters. During this interrogation, Mansur attacked Lt. Behenna, who killed the terrorist in self-defense. The government subsequently prosecuted Lt. Behenna for premeditated murder.

Not only is this a miscarriage of justice on the behalf of Lt. Behenna, who was acting to prevent further loss of life in his platoon, it is demoralizing to the U.S. troops who continue to fight on behalf of the freedom and security of our nation. Whether it is U.S. border patrol agents, members of the armed forces, or FBI agents, no individual who is serving on the frontlines in the War on Terror should be so blatantly mistreated.......

To read the rest of the story and get other information go here....DEFEND MICHAEL

Paul B.

Thursday, March 26, 2009



You see above the cover of Wade's new book just released. I'm showing it here and linking to the place from which it can be ordered. I'm sure it will be in the bookstores shortly, but it can be purchased On-line at this publisher's site now. That link is......

I was asked to review the book with a pre-published printing of that review on my blog but I declined for obvious reasons. However, if you would like to read a thorough, thoughtful and insightful review that is well written by a layman who is no stranger to the SBC conlicts go to....

My personal and some what [I admit] biased opinion is you will love the book which is a great read [I read the original manuscript] and I predict as well that it will eventually be on most Southern Baptist's bookshelves after they have devoured it. No bias in that last statement at all. Just a humble but accurate prediction. :)

I'm convinced the reading audience may even be much larger than simply Southern Baptist people because of the interest Evangelicals have in general as they have observed some of the struggles and even the potential disintegration of a major denomination. [Some may think that the last part of that an over statement but I've lived long enough to experience the truth that the"little foxes spoil the vines" principle is often found to be a reality in life as the scriptures have pointed out it can be.]

I'm hoping some straight talk about the issues will provide an atmosphere where change can come about without losing a great missions tool in Christendom. I don't know that we've been the greatest tool God has ever had as Southern Baptists but we HAVE been an effective one in the past. May that be regained.

Paul B.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I personally believe much of the turmoil we face in our Convention today [speaking only as a Southern Baptist] can be credited to the difference on how we view the Church. I'm speaking of viewing the church as primarily and "institution" or primarily an "organism."

This was brought out anew to my thinking as I read Dr. Al Mohler's blog post written in response to a woman who had written in the national newspaper USA TODAY about women NOT being viewed as equal in the eyes of the Church. I have to say I agree with Dr. Molher's critique that you don't set forward a truth because of how it is viewed in the culture. We are to set forward our views on women AND men [or anything else theological] based on how we view the text of scripture. I also have to say that, undoubtedly, D. Mohler and I might disagree on our view of women in the church but both of us would be doing so on how we view scripture not culture.

But my interest was peaked by one statement that Dr. Mohler made that is different than how many Southern baptist [myself inluded] see the Church. In this post I'm going to put up the quote AND a portion of an article by another Baptist with a differing view. So you will see the quote first and then a longer statement by John Reisinger.

In fairness to Dr. Mohler [whom I admire in many ways] were he able to speak to the issue I'm raising he might come closer to John Reisinger than I know. But I'm simply using a quote not assigning a doctrinal belief to him. It's a contrast of thoughts I'm raising here...not men. First the Mohler quote then the quote from a Reisinger article.

Mohler quote

"Nevertheless, those who believe that the church is an institution established by Jesus Christ and who believe that the Bible is our sole final authority for belief and practice must obey what the Bible teaches. This means that we must also follow the pattern set out in the Scripture as the pattern set out by God himself." Dr. Al Mohler

Reisinger quote

"The Landmark Baptists, along with Rome, insists there is no such thing as a universal/invisible ekklesia. They are convinced the only ekklesia in the NTS [New Testament Scriptures] is the local/visible ekklesia. If we ask the question another way, the Landmark Baptist and the Romanist miss the boat. Instead of asking whether the visible or invisible ekklesia is the most used concept in the NTS, let's ask this question: "Do the NTS emphasis union with Christ via the indwelling Holy Spirit, which all agree is true of all Christians, or does it emphasize membership in a local congregation of professing Christians?" That is bottom line in the discussion.

The moment you try to make the "local/visible" ekklesia to be an institution, or physical organization, which is supposed to be Christ's Vicar on earth, as opposed to the ekklesia being an invisible/universal spiritual organism, you are half way back to Rome.

My contention is that the NTS do NOT give us two different definitions of the ekklesia of Christ. There is not a spiritual ekklesia where all who are in it are saved, and a physical ekklesia made up of both saved and lost. The moment we allow these two different kinds of ekklesias, we have denied and changed the basic meaning of ekklesia as being "the called out ones." The difference between the so-called 'universal' ekklesia and 'local' ekklesia is not that one is a spiritual organism made up of regenerate people and the other is a physical organization with both saved and lost in it. There is only one ekklesia and the different uses of the word is only referring to how many of the 'called out ones' you are talking about. In one instance you are talking about all the called out ones, or the ekklesia for whom Christ died, and in the other instance you are talking about all those living in Corinth, or wherever, for whom Christ died.

The Bible does not talk about the difference between an organization and an organism. The so-called visible ekklesia does not take on a life of its own independent of a living relationship with her Lord. The ekklesia of Christ does not have an ounce of authority on her own. She speaks for Christ only when she speaks His words. She represents Christ only when she repeats what her Lord has spoken. She cannot say, "Christ has made me His Vicar on earth therefore you must obey me without question."

I repeat, the ekklesia emphasized in the NTS is not an institution, or organization that you join, but it's a spiritual body into which the Holy Spirit has baptized you. Everything is determined by the phrases "Christ in you" and "you in Christ." It is this truth that the NTS emphasize.

Should Christians today join a group of Christians and live under the love and discipline of that group as it has defined itself and its beliefs in its constitution? Absolutely! But not because that is the way the early church did it. Where is there a single instance in the NTS of any individual being examined and then joining "a local church?"

Should a group of believers write out their beliefs and rules of conduct and require everyone who wants to join their church to promise to live under those rules. Absolutely! But again, not because that is the way the early church did it. Where do the NTS say that each group of believers wrote a constitution?

In the next article I will attempt to demonstrate why there is such confusion about church polity in our day. We must deal with problems for which we have no clear answers. We struggle with situations that not only did not exist in the apostolic age but also could not have been anticipated in that age." John Reisinger [All emphasis made by PB]

Interesting. Your thoughts? let me know...graciously. :)

Paul B.

Friday, March 20, 2009


A contemplative moment. I don't like what I've experienced the past few hours. Let me be specific.

One thing is... I'm always surprised when a belief about the equality of women in the Kingdom [non-hierarchical] leads someone to say that the same thinking that led to that will lead to homosexual behavior being approved as if both [equality of persons and acceptance of immoral behavior] are linked and both are immoral. My guess is the female gender would have a sense of being disrespected tremendously by that. [And rightfully so...I'm even sure some whose behavior is of that nature would object to the disrespect as well.]

The fact that someone would try to justify doing it by saying they are speaking only of a failure to use sound principles of biblical interpretation which bring about the one [equality of gender] and would bring about the other [sexual orientation acceptance] doesn't change the disrespect. It exacerbates it. They are attempting to say that to believe in Kingdom gender equality is a result of the acceptance of a cultural standard rather than a biblical one. Not withstanding people CAN see the scriptures differently both using good principles of interpretation since we see through a glass darkly at present, the fact is that cultures, including the American one, DO NOT have a gender equality belief at all. The pay scale adequately shows that as a multitude of other gender prejudiced things do. The same could be said for racial equality.

In fact, were christians to be truly biblical in relationships especially in marriage and family life, it would upset the apple cart of our culture as well as all other nations, beyond measure. It would be tantamount to the turmoil Jesus caused when He brought about a radical view of equality regardless of race, gender, or social background to the life of His own religious and secular culture. How transforming and disturbing is that to a hierarchical, racial, male -dominated culture!! But, alas, it will take His return for culture to truly be transformed that way. That is unless one becomes truly a biblical christian. Then it would be seen as a reality albeit in a microcosm in a marriage and family where there is mutual respect, value, submission and love all under Jesus as Lord. That sounds like the picture of a truly biblical local church as well.

A second thing...resulting in my uneasiness and repentance is... I've found that, if we're not careful, in our zeal [my zeal] to disprove the charge that our culture has dictated our gender-equality position and will bring about the approval of homosexual behavior unless changed, we can come to a person-bashing position under the disguise of theological correctness. There is no doubt in my mind that the sexual behavior under discussion is of the same moral category as that of adultery and fornication and is not the best for human relationships.

That said, we must never forget that Jesus was identified as one who "ate with publicans [tax-collectors who were the dregs of society] and sinners." [Luke 15:1-2] May that same charge ever be laid at our feet as His followers and people of His Kingdom. Whatever one's definition of "dregs" of society [some would say religious people are] we are to recognize and embrace their value as a human being and be ready to express grace, mercy, and love to whomever fits your particular definition of that word "dregs."

I personally hold to two conflicting opinions here. I do believe certain actions [the three named earlier] are immoral and destructive actions. I also believe those guilty of such actions are to be people I embrace and love as I've been loved of the Lord. That is my greatest desire. I would hope NO ONE experiences rejection from me whatever their particular behavior might be. With regards to sexual child-abuse I'm still on the journey of non-rejection of the one who is serving a fifteen year sentence in prison for my grand-daughter being attacked. However, I AM on the journey.

But I also hold to a different definition of "dregs." I don't mean to be cruel here, but I'm rapidly approaching a belief that the "real" dregs of society in the day of Jesus were the religious people who thought more of their belief system than they did of the mind boggling reality of God's revelation of Himself in the Son seen in His receiving of the so-called outcasts. I'm not sure the same isn't happening today. That "They were first called christians" event was in Antioch as the people saw believers embracing people of every stripe some of whom were then broken by that love and the gospel that followed and came to know the love of God in Christ. "See how they love" was the testimony of the day for believers. That love is still the biblical standard for us I believe.

Lest someone hear this as love with no doctrinal foundation or lest someone think this love will lower the scriptural standard for immoral behavior, let me say, I do not mean that at all. I DO mean that the same love, experienced in Christ and founded upon the truth of scripture WILL be shed abroad by the Holy Spirit to people who may be a bit unlovely. Even those in their theological cages they've built for themselves. In other words, it isn't any less important to love the elder brother of Luke 15 than it is to love the younger one. [The prodigal] My problem used to be not loving the younger guy of Luke 15. I learned better. Then I struggled loving the elder guy. But when God's love is REALLY shed abroad thru me it will go to both the elder and younger bros. [The legalists and the immoral ones] just as the father did.

Finally, what I've said all says more about me than anyone else. I'm a work in progress and, as one of my favorite commenters Aussie John says, it comes with some "ego bruising" going on if real growth happens. It's happening and my ego is no longer in tact. Not that it has grounds to be intact and, after all, this is a "praise the lord" thing as you can see. comment approval button has been punched once again. [It was only recently opened anyway] I find I need time to think over negative comments that might be posted and when they need, I can answer them privately through e-mail as I've done many times over the past two years of blogging at least those which I deem too critical in spirit to benefit anyone. I realize that someone may view this my being unable to take criticism. Trust me after pastoring for forty years a thin skin is NOT my problem. My problem is really the opposite. I answer in like kind too easily. That is the flesh I struggle with and, perhaps, will until Jesus comes. So as an alcoholic would be wise to refrain from the area of temptation, so should one who tends toward an addiction to setting people straight who, unjustly, in the opinion of the one offended, criticizes people he knows and respects.

This is obviously a rather long apology for a job not done well but an apology it is. Since done in public the apology is in public.

Paul B.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Warning...heavy reading. Not for children
or for those who have to read children's stories. It is
for those willing to put away childish things.

For a moment anyway. :)

Does 1 Cor. 11:3 actually say and mean that Christ is eternally subordinate to God the Father because that's what "head" means? Is the Son's will to be obedient to the Father's will in eternity to come? Is the Eternal Father over the Eternal Son in eternity future in terms of authority? Some say yes, yes, and yes.

I'm not so sure. I believe to be textually true and correct about this verse you would have to see what the meaning of the word 'head' really is and that is a difficult thing to do. "Kephale" [head] in 1 Cor. 11:3 has, I believe, the sense of referring to the origins or source of something and isn't referring to authority at all. If I'm correct, then it does NOT say what our present culture might think at first glance.

You see there are some perfectly good words in Greek [kuriotes, exousia, epitage] for authority but 'kephale' isn't one of them. I've examined every verse where Paul is speaking of "authority" or "rule" and a word other than 'kephale' is used. Add to that the Middle Eastern thought in the biblical culture of putting someone under your FEET as being a symbol of being above another in value or position [Still present in the Middle East as shown by the shoe thrown at Bush on his the Middle Eastern trip.] and you would have good reasons for believing the idea of "head" does NOT mean authority here or other places in scripture.

In fact, the 'head' in Greek culture was often times thought to be the souce of life. Just as the loins were thought of as the seat of emotions and the heart was the center or essence of being. So what we have in this verse is a word used that might make perfect sense to those of us living in the American culture who think of it as meaning "boss,"but it might not be the sense of that day at all.

This is NOT to say that in the incarnation moment there was not a submission of Jesus to the express will of the Father. He was. But always remember even then the word used is a Greek word "Hupo tasso" meaning one of equal value and voice choosing [middle voice] to serve another. That was, after all, the express PURPOSE of the incarnation [to live with perfect obedience as man] which culminated in the Cross where He became our substitute as the sinless Lamb of God.

That idea of submission is not the natural flow of this passage at all. Source is the natural flow. And, by the way, do you realize that no where in scripture is a husband told to lead his wife? [He is told to serve her.] The words lead, leader, servant-leader, spiritual leader are not there at all. Paul doesn't use them. Peter doesn't use them. And most of all Jesus never does. These words are only DERIVED logically from the word "head" used here and in Eph 5 meaning what our culture means by it. So if Paul had a different idea he wished to convey to that culture, we will really miss it thinking of "head" the way we do in our culture.

So back to our word "kephale." My favorite illustration of the natural meaning of this word to that culture is, as many of you who have heard me teach know, that of a river. When we speak of the 'head' waters of a river, we mean its "source" with no idea of authority at all bearing in mind what they thought "head" meant. That's the intention of Paul here I believe.

So what is being said is that we have God's only begotten Son coming from God who is the "source" referring to the incarnation. This verse was never intended to be a statement of his ]Jesus] ontological [nature] or functional [role] subordination to God the Father in either eternity past OR future. It was only speaking incarnationally as the Son takes on a human nature in which He ASSUMES a subordinate relationship to God the Father. So 1 Cor. 11:3 is referring to God [ The Father] who is the SOURCE of Jesus coming incarnately to accomplish His purpose and not the One who is 'BOSS' over Jesus pre-incarnation or post-incarnation.

Phil. 2.5-11 helps clarify this when it shows that the pre-existent Son of God had the condition and status of being equal to God. This means Jesus WAS God in pre-time eternity one in nature or essence or being with the Father who is God and the Spirit who is God. One God----not three gods with three wills or three minds but One God with one will or mind---- who is expressed in three unique persons. Relationally, I suppose you could say, as did Erick Sauer... "Father-is the Lover, Son-is the Beloved, Spirit-is the Spirit of love" because God IS love.

But God the Son CHOSE to not abide in that condition of equality, but rather humbled himself [REMEMBER..involving a choice, not an inherent condition or state of the divine Son] and took upon Himself human nature with a human body. This, while never less than God in His nature. He, thus, became the unique God-man and while living as man was submitted to God the Father as the Second Man or Last Adam.

Now the rest of the verse makes sense as this whole idea of 'kephale' in 1 Cor. 11:3 continues to substantiate the 'source' of the woman being the man and Christ being the 'source' of the man?

The man as"head" [Kephale-source] of the woman can certainly be seen by going back to the Genesis story in which the woman is literally brought out of man. [The rib thing.] But someone might ask "how does the 'man' have his source in Christ?" I'm glad you asked. I read one person who said it well when he said there are perhaps two possible answers to this. One is when we remember that Paul stated that Christ pre-existed and was involved in the creation of the first human-kind [Adam] in the beginning. Col. 1.16 is quite clear about that as is John 1.

But also, we should remember that Paul is the one who articulated the Adam Christology as it applied to Jesus and that he said in a biblical reality Jesus is to be seen as comparable to the historical Adam and who, as such, is the founder/source of a whole new kind of human beings [redeemed] made up of all those who are in Christ, both men and also women out of every nation, tribe, and race on earth. [Whew, long sentence read it again.]

Which one of these is correct? I lean toward the first but maybe both are true. Either one would cause the words in 1 Cor. 11:3 to make good sense. Verse 12 seems to pronounce a benediction on the source idea as well.

So I don't see how 1 Cor. 11.3 can be used as a proof at all for the idea that Christ is eternally subordinate to the Father. I don't see it as providing any proof for the idea that men are perpetually in authority over women either. That's not what kephale means in this verse from my understanding. I have the same view of the language when interpreting Eph. 5 as well.

My conclusion then, is that in eternity there are not three gods with three different wills and minds but one God Who has one will and mind expressed in three persons of equal nature or essence. The incarnation had a different purpose to be sure. Beyond this I have little understanding of the Trinity which is FAR beyond understanding with our finite minds anyway. So much more could be said but I had promised to give my two-cents and I wanted to do just that.

Excellent comments on the previous post on this subject. Comment away on this one if you would like.

Paul B.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


There is a theological controversy at large in the SBC as well as other parts of the Body of Christ in the present day. Some people are teaching that Jesus is/has been eternally in submission to the Father and is an example of the biblical truth that women are to be submitted to men for now and eternity also. [Verses like 1 Corinhians 11:3 are used to support this.]

Dr. Kevin Giles begins his article written for the March 2006 issue of Catalyst magazine with this statement about the above mentioned concept of the Trinity. After giving a description of the historical understanding of the Trinity put forth in some recommended present day authors Dr. Giles said...... "This novel teaching [The eternal subordination of Jesus to the Father] was first enunciated by G. Knight III in his highly influential 1977 book, New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women (Baker, 1977). He argued that the God-given permanent subordination of women in role and authority in the church and the home was supported and illustrated by the Trinity. For him, the Son is eternally subordinated in role and authority to the Father, despite the fact that the Father and the Son are both fully divine. He thus spoke of a “chain of subordination” (33) in the Father-Son and the man-woman relationship, and of an eternal subordination of the Son that has “certain ontological aspects” (56)."

On Wade's blog this doctrine of eternal subordination of Jesus was mentioned with Wade expressing his rejection of it. The comment stream had some interesting responses. A woman named Wanda had this passionate and personal view to present....."This nonsense -- the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father -- is one of the reasons why my husband and I left the SBC several weeks ago. I consider it to be heresy and I'm letting others know that Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem have been using it to justify the eternal subordination of women. Once this becomes public knowledge among the average SBC churchgoer, you can kiss many more tithers good-bye!!!"

In a thoughtful and but less personal and passionate follow-up comment a young Missouri pastor offered this in support of the doctrine after admitting he didn't have all the answers but had done some personal study....."But that does not [The equality of the God-Head] mean that the functionary roles of the persons, and their relationship to each other cannot in some way possess qualities which could seem hierarchical on some level whether self-imposed or imposed by another Personage."

And so it goes with this new controversy. Do I have an opinion? You bet I do. I will present it in my next post. But in the mean time I would love to hear from some of you in the comment section of this post what you think about it all one way or another. I have taken the comment moderation off so be sure you are respectful as you've always been in the past. I know you will be.

Paul B.