Tuesday, April 15, 2014



Within the 21st century world of "reformed theology" there is a growing number of young men who couple their doctrinal position with some external evidences:  primarily their beards......but there are secondary features including tattoos, beer-guzzling and cigar-smoking.

The beard thing is almost cultic.  They have websites like "Bearded Gospel Men" and so forth.  One would like to think the attitude is tongue-in-cheek (and perhaps it is for some), but as time goes on, it looks more and more serious, more of a shibboleth for this subset of what was once referred to as the "young, restless, and reformed"

Many of the bearded bunch associate themselves with Spurgeon....who indeed sported a beard and reportedly enjoyed his cigars.  I've seen one fanatic styling himself to resemble (as much as possible) Spurgeon.  Of course, Spurgeon was also a total abstainer from alcohol and encouraged his flock to follow that example.  The imitators often skip that part of his character.  Spurgeon was also overweight......and I see a number of good imitations of that in this crowd.  So, Spurgeon smoked cigars and was overweight, and was in very poor health for years, died at age 58.  The beard probably did not contribute to his health problems, but the other stuff......

I have no problems with Spurgeon's theology (or very minor ones) and would encourage any young Christian to read his works.  My own theology is a bit of a mix of Spurgeon, Pink, and for a modern example, John MacArthur (clean-shaven, teetotal).  Also, I have a beard.  Had a beard before these fellows were born; had one continuously for the past 20 years and for 80% of the past 45 years (since I got out of the military).  So, this is not an anti-beard rant.

My point is that I had a beard as an atheist, a vociferous Bible-denying, God-hating heathen.  I had a beard as a young convert and was subjected to severe criticism for it by the "church."  I had a beard as a young preacher and cannot count the times I heard "We'd like to have you preach for us, brother, if you'd just get rid of that beard"

So, what is this drive to associate beard-wearing with "reformed" theology?  I do not know.  It's an affectation and like all affectations, in speech or walk or other mannerisms, it's off-putting.  You want a beard?  Fine.  You want to shave?  Fine.  Don't try to associate yourself with Spurgeon via a beard.  Any (male) moron can grow a beard.  You want to stand out in your crowd?  I suggest you follow the Biblical principles which lead to holiness and Christ-likeness.  That result will make you a stand-out in this modern "church."

I'm afraid that in many cases it's a way of rationalizing a desire to be like the world in which we dwell.  The beards, the tattoos, the beer-swilling, cigar-puffing world has some appeal to many young folks.....and they don't want to miss out on the fun just because they're Christians.  It's a way of having "the best of both worlds."

Today we have web sites promoting "calvinist brews" and "Christian tattoos"--I'm expecting a "Christian" porn site within a few years.

Think about the perception of those around you.  What is your witness to the world, even before you open your mouth?  They see just another young, bearded, tattooed punk with a cigar stuffed in his mouth.  You think that image inspires them to listen to you when you broach the subject of the Gospel?

"Judgmental" you say?  Yep.  If I walked into a new congregation and saw such a person step into the pulpit, I'd leave.  Not interested.  You don't need the $1500. suit and military haircut but you need a statement of attitude other than that which says to me:  I love this aspect of the world and I'm keeping it in the forefront of my "ministry"
The Author
Bearded, but
finding no spiritual advantage
in so being

No Cigar
No Tatts
No Beer,
and finding that 
the absence of those 
worldly devices is
not a hindrance

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


...or, at least his spirit is--alive and flourishing in the "Christian" world, perhaps a bit more subtle than the Westboro brand but equally disturbing.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6)

"There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers."
(Proverbs 6)

I want to make two points here:

1.  One can make no objection to preaching against sin, or even preaching against specific sins if the text leads in that direction.  What I see as objectionable is the single-minded focus on homosexuality and the resultant neglect of other sins which are even more prevalent in our culture.

Note the passage of scripture quoted above which enumerates specific sins, including homosexuality--Now I ask you: Where is the outrage against general sexual immorality (such as we are entertained by regularly via television and Hollywood)?...against drunkenness, greed, thieving and swindling....all of which are far more wide-spread than homosexuality.  Public opinion polls often indicate that people think 25% of the population is homosexual, but scientific studies show the number to be far lower--4%-8% range.  One does not need a "scientific study" to know that 100% of the population is guilty of sexual immorality, thieving, lying, and so forth.

So, the question remains-- Why the emphasis on one sin?  Some of the efforts to justify this pattern of preaching falls into the "God hates homosexuality more than other sins......" category.  We get the "Sodom and Gomorrah" reference.  No one can deny that God hates sin, God hates homosexuality....but there's no evidence that He hates it more than He hates other sexual sins for example.  Note the passage I quoted from Proverbs:  That's not an exclusive list of things God abominates, I'm sure, but I will point out that homosexuality did not make the list.  Some of those other items on there maybe should get some "air time" from American pulpits.

If we were to "stick to the text" there would be far more preaching across the spectrum against all sins rather than this selective, agenda-driven crusade against homosexuality.  Which brings me to my second point:

2.  Why is this happening?  What prompts the "church" in its monomaniacal crusade against homosexuality?......This from a church which, by omission, diminishes the consequences of other sins which Biblically are just as damning.

For one thing, I think we all, in whatever vestiges of self-righteousness remain with our flesh, we all love to find someone "worse" than we are.  We're proud that we're not like those sinners!  Yes, we're proud......

In our hearts, we know we're guilty of sexual immorality, theft, lying, gluttony, greed, etc, etc, etc......but we're not queer!  Good for us!  We can preach freely on that subject when all the other sins seem to be slightly less appealing subjects for a pulpit rant...with that conscience pricking us all the time we rave about adulterers and liars and thieves.  So, let's stick to a target where we suffer no wounds.

On a larger scale, however, I think this whole anti-homosexual movement is born out of something other than God's hatred of sin.  I think its true foundation is not Biblical at all.  It's getting a veneer of Bible gloss and, indeed, it is a sin, and it is contrary to God's word, but that may be merely a convenience for the Movement.

This Movement is the effort to save our culture.  People see the increasing presence, yea prominence, of homosexuals as a detriment to Western culture (and rightly so...no argument).  Historically, there is evidence that sexual debauchery, including homosexual practices, is a harbinger of a culture's demise.
I'm not here to elaborate on that Movement except to say that it's the driving force in this fracas, not the Bible.  That's why we see very little to none of the Biblical attitudes expected in a confrontation with sinners.  A friend told the story of Bob Jones University's response to a bunch of pro-gay pickets--rather than getting in their faces and having a shouting match, the school sent out box lunches with Gospel tracts.  That response is the exception rather than the rule these days.  Genuine Christians recognize their own sin and realize that apart from God's restraining grace, we'd all have gone to the extremes of our depravity and done every sinful thing possible.  Genuine Christians also know that homosexuals will not be converted by argument, debate, or by shaming them, or by hating them, but by the only possible way:  the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit bringing them to spiritual life.

If we don't have the love of Christ compelling us to take the Gospel to sinners of all stripes, we need to examine ourselves regarding the validity of our "faith"  Those who are more concerned about the cultural/political agenda of "defeating" the homosexual agenda than they are about proclaiming Christ to a lost and dying world need to be honest about their motives.  Do not claim your agenda to be God's agenda.  Christ came to seek and to save the lost.  Believers are commissioned to take that Good News to the spiritually blind ...take it with a loving heart and a prayer that God will save those sinners for His glory.