King Saul: The Progressive, Liberal Faith of the OT

liberalThe core of liberal Christianity is not the brain child of twentieth and twenty-first century theologians. People who wore tunics and rode in chariots were writing off the Bible as being too harsh, too outdated, and too confining long before ascot adorned professors arrived on the scene. In fact, Adam and Eve wrestled with this very question of the whether or not God really said what he meant. “Did God really say, not to eat the fruit?

In 1 Samuel 15, we come across another precursor of liberal Christianity. God commands Saul to annihilate the Amalekites because they had abused the nation of Israel and other people groups. By obeying God’s command, Saul would fulfill a divine prophecy. In Exodus 17:14-16, God had declared, “I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”  If Saul fails to destroy Amalek, he would violate the Word of God just a a child violates the Word of God by stealing. God said, “You shall not steal.” 

Sadly, Saul fails to obey God’s command. The text reports that

Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of that fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction (1 Sam. 15:3).

Saul and his army profited from those they were sent to execute. The Jews under Saul were like a prisons guard stealing a convicts Air-Jordan’s and Apple watch as he received a lethal injection.

Saul and the people seemingly disobey God’s Word for personal profit. Though their actions would cause most of us to gag, we can still relate to the two heart desires driving Saul: a desire to be relevant and a desire to be liked. The king refuses to kill Agag because Kings in the ancient world considered the killing of other kings bad Karama. The cultural thing to do was to kill the armies and the people but to spare the king. And so, Saul spares King Agag even though he had spent his reign terrorizing and murdering women and children (1 Sam. 15:23).  As the great theologian John Calvin noted:

“Here then was Saul’s sin; He wished to be more merciful than God.”

Saul looked at his culture and concluded that God’s commands were too harsh and so he lessened them.

Postmodern, progressive Christians often make the same argument. They deem the prohibitions against sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, and divorce to be too harsh. The liberals know that Bible-deniers are some of the most powerful and popular people in their community. If they cling to the Bible, they will offend the powerful and lose social status.

To maintain their relationship to the divine, progressive souls must declare that God has changed his view of sexuality declaring yesterday’s evil to be today’s holiness. As Saul before them, liberal Christians extend the mercy of God to keep pace with the cultural elites.

Second, Saul disobeys God because he feared the common people. He wants to please the people and so he fails to follow God’s Word to the letter. The people desire nice stuff, so Saul allows his troops to profit from the execution of Amalekites. He feared men more than he feared God.

The fear of man continues to plague modern men and women of faith. No one wants to be hated, picked last for kick-ball, or discover that they are in the minority on any substantive issue. We feel a lot more confident when we are part of the 90% of America as oppose to 10%. Yet those who follow the Word of God are promised perpetual minority status. Jesus said, “because you are not of this world…the world hates you (John 15:19).”

But, we still love to be loved, creating a problem.

The majority culture that has the greatest reservoirs of human love hates the words of God. Before we can access the culture’s love, we have to repudiate the Bible’s teaching on sin, homosexuality, and the exclusivity of Christ. If we don’t walk back God’s commands, the culture threatens to empty our churches. And sadly, we often listen to our culture, believing the ends will justify the means. We think God will understand that we have to abandon parts of the Bible to reach and influence more people with the Bible. Popularity demands we fear men and women instead of the Scriptures. And so, we follow after Saul and our culture.

Unfortunately for Saul and for liberal Christians, God does not tolerate changes to his commands. God never stutters when he speaks. God is not a college student who needs the opportunity to rewrite his term paper.

The prophet Samuel reports, “The Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret (1 Sam. 15:29).”

God does not change. God never outlaws sexual sin and then regrets his harsh words a few millennia later because he saw how “in-love” two unmarried coeds were.

Those who change the law of God, have not helped God and have not stumbled unto deep religious truth. They have defied God and deserve death. Samuel point blank tells us that ‘Rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” Those who change the Bible by expanding upon God’s mercy to appease cultural elites or by whipping away truths to appease the masses do not worship the God of the Bible. They worship a false God of their own imagination.

J. Gresham Machen correctly notes that the modern, liberal, progressive Christianity that dominates much of the media, “is fundamentally hostile to the Christian faith.” He goes on to say,

Liberalism is totally different from the Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men.

The religion of Saul and of liberalism is a false religion. God hates such half-heart, evolving, man-centered faith because it is not true faith. Samuel tells Saul, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” Regardless of their titles and their church affiliations, those who disobey the Word of the Lord receive God’s judgment.

According to liberal theologians, children who have grown up talking to Suri will only stay with Jesus if we make his teachings more culturally aware and relevant. King Saul made this same argument long before radios, cars, and airplanes dotted the earth. God was not impressed then and he is not impressed now.

The Bible has never been modern enough for even the most rudimentary of people. But it has always been true. Will you believe it?

5 Amazing Christmas Gifts For Kids!

kids-gifts-blogESV Student Study Bible: Crossway

This colorful Bible equips students to better understand God’s Word. The Bible contains notes that help your older elementary child understand cultural nuances of the Bible. It also contains illustrations, genealogies, maps, and pictures that help your child visualize the images and histories of the biblical text. The Bible also includes, “Did you Know?” sections on almost every page that help your child think about and apply what they are reading. If you are looking to buy your child a Bible that will aid them in their studies of the Scripture, I encourage you to get them a copy of the ESV Student Study Bible.

Other Great Bibles:

51P3o2I0c9L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_If you are looking for a Bible for a younger elementary student or for an advanced preschooler, I encourage you to check out the ESV Big Picture Bible. The Bible contains the full text of the Scripture. All of the headings are colorful and a multitude of colorful pictures will help your visual learning connect with the text of the Bible. If you are looking to buy your child her first Bible, I encourage you to give the ESV Big Picture Bible a look.

If you are a New King James or Christian Standard Bible fan checkout The Big Picture Interactive Study Bible, that contains many of the pictures and notes find in Lifeway’s popular Sunday School curriculum, the Gospel Project. This is the perfect Bible for older preschoolers to elementary age children.

Exploring the Bible: David Murray

David Murray created an amazing devotion for your children. Murray takes your children on a rapid Journey through the Bible’s story line. Each day your children will read a passage of Scripture and will write down a brief statement about what they have learned. Murray caps each week with a page for Sermon notes that are designed to help your child apply what he hears on Sunday morning. This book is the perfect gift for the child who desires to have his own quiet times. I encourage you to get a copy of Exploring the Bible.

Luther: Stephen McCaskell and Aaron Armstrong

McCaskell and Armstrong have given kids a stunning and compelling look at the founder of the Reformation, Martin Luther. The book is strikingly illustrated with black and white pictures that resemble a graphic novel. The text that surrounds the illustrations walks your child through the history of Luther, explaining how an imperfect man saved the fading light of the gospel in Western Europe. If you have a child who loves history or reading, or interacting with a compelling story, I encourage you to place a copy of Luther under her Christmas tree.

The Radical Book For Kids: Champ Thorton

screenshot-66Champ Thorton presents the history of Christendom in a fun, exciting, and compelling matter that is almost sure to connect with your elementary student. He discuss everything from John Bunyan, to the “Books of the Bible,” to the “Hedelberg Catechism” to “Bible Games” to “Lottie Moon.” Every chapter has illustrations or quotes, or photo’s, or comics, or crafts, or charts that help bring the pages to life. If you have a child who loves to learn or who wants to understand more about their faith, I encourage you to buy him a copy of The Radical Book For Kids.

The Ology: Marty Machowski

Marty Machowski invites children to join Carla and Timothy as they unwrap and read the rare children’s book that began with the early church. Machowski uses the next 231 pages to explain what Christians believed about God, people, sin, and salvation, using illustrations, analogies, and readable text that will connect with your elementary student. All  of the book’s 71 chapters run  two to three pages and  feature a picture and Scripture references that will help your child understand key biblical truths. If you want to expose your child to the truth of the Bible and if you have a reader in your family, you will want to place a copy of The Ology under your Christmas tree.

What gifts will you by giving your children this Christmas?

Parenting: Book Review

parentingI once had a parent look at me confused. I had asked him to trace his parenting practices back to the Bible. Sure, he could point to Ephesians 6:4 and could allude to principles laid out in Deuteronomy 6, Colossians 3, and Psalm 76. But for him and for the many other parents who’ve been worn down by the daily grind of parenting, these passages feel like far too little far too late. We feel that the Bible is far removed from our experience.

And, we do not need another verse or five-step program. We need a holistic biblical solution that addresses our complex parenting needs and the complex needs of our kids with the entirety of the Bible.

Thankfully, we now have resource that will help us do just that. Sensing that parents like you and me were struggling with bringing all of the Scriptures to bear on our parenting, Paul David Tripp wrote the book, (appropriately titled) Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles The Can Radically Change Your Family. In 14 short chapters, Paul David Tripp lays out the grand scriptural principles that every parent needs to grab ahold of as they search for purpose, hope, and rest.

He writes,

Parenting is not first and about what we want for our children or form our children, but about what God in grace has planned to do through us in our children.”

I do not know about you, but I find this idea to be a game changer!

In his book, Paul David Tripp shifts the focus of our parenting from forcing our kids to behave and achieve our goals to the heart of the matter. He leads us away from the things that we cannot control to the responsibilities that God has given us.

Paul David Tripp shows us why our hearts slide into depression, anger, despair, harsh words, and manipulation every time we encounter our kid drawing on the wall. And then, he goes on to reveal how all of the Bible addresses our sinful heart issues and the sinful heart issues of our kids. He show us that the Bible does indeed provide hope and solutions to all of our parenting problems. We will survive if we cling to the Bible.

paul_seated_300Admittedly, not all the Bible is about yelling kids, disrespectful middle schoolers, and lying teenagers. But, all of the Bible is about helping sinners (including parents) overcome their sinful heart issues through the saving power of the cross.

Parenting was never supposed to be reduced down to a few verses. We parents are complex sinful people in need of much grace and instruction. (So are our kids.) To parent well, we need to appeal to the whole counsel of God, which addresses our depression, anger, and every other heart issue the pops up while we tell little Johnny, “NO” for the hundredth time. And it addresses every heart issue that compels our children to be who they are.

Friends, the Bible is fully sufficient for everything that “pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Paul David Tripp reminds us (parents) of this beautiful truth with powerful precision over 224 helpful pages. Of all the parenting and family books I’ve read to date (and I’ve read a lot being parent and preschool and Children’s pastor) this is my favorite.

If you are a parent, or if you are thinking about becoming a parent, or if you simply want to understand your own heart better, I encourage you to read this book. Paul David Tripp has winsomely and powerfully shown us how the Scriptures should radically change and influence the way we parent.

Paul’s Scripture infused words, have both encouraged and rebuked my heart over and over again, blessing my soul and my family.

How about you?  Are you ready to be challenged?

Click here to buy your copy today: