Monday, December 3, 2012

The Reformed Christians Guide to Facebook:

Firstly, Facebook is not to be viewed as or treated by any Christian as a replacement for attending church on Sunday. This goes for every Christian.  Hebrews 10:24-25, “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

To quote the Belgic Confession, “The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself.” Simply, the sacraments cannot be administered on Facebook. Excommunication cannot be carried out on Facebook. You are not physically assembling with other Christians when on Facebook. Facebook is not a church service. You must attend a church.

However, Facebook can still be used as a helpful and edifying medium for theological fellowship, debate and discussion on Facebook. And, there is lovely international dimension to this – I have had the pleasure of meeting and praying for Christians from every continent (inhabited by mankind) through Facebook. So, here is a short guide to some of the better Reformed Groups on Facebook.

Undoubtedly the most active Calvinist group on Facebook. The group (CFDD) is actively moderated, and “exists primarily for dialogue and fellowship between Calvinists", though non-Calvinists are still welcome to join, learn and participate. If you obey the rules, you will learn some theology, and benefit from and enjoy the fellowship in this group, away from a lot of the nastiness in groups that are not moderated. The members mostly get along, so you might even have some fun … once you are up to date with the jokes.

A more relaxed version of CFDD (the group described above). Probably more theological diversity, but if you are Christian and respectful, chances are, you will be invited to have coffee with other Christian friends. This group is in many ways that scenario.

Created in the aftermath of the closure of the original “Calvinism: The Group That Choose You”, due to controversies over Kinism [refutation of Kinism here]. This group is a new Kinist-free group, and a replacement of the original. Similar to CFDD, this group exists for moderated dialogue and fellowship between Calvinists, while allowing pleasant non-Calvinists to participate where appropriate.

This group isn't so much a place for debating lapsarianism or eschatology – it is more for those who are already married with children or gearing towards that direction. If you are a high school student who just wants to debate baptism – this is not the place. The Godly Home is a closed group designed to “help Christian parents in their pursuit to train their children up in God's word as well as be a resource to encourage godly marriages.”

5.        The Book Club
I have never met an informed Calvinist who does not enjoy reading. Though not incredibly active, this is a group where Reformed Christians are able to discuss what they are reading. The books discussed are more likely to be out of print than on the New York Times best-seller list – so to those like-minded people who read mostly dead theologians – there is no need to worry.

This is a closed group for dialogue and fellowship between Christians who understand the Bible by covenant theology.  This group is not incredibly active, but there are often worthwhile threads untangling deeper aspects of God’s covenantal relationships and dealings with His creation.

7.       The Reformed Steakhouse
Similar to Reformed Covenant Theology in some ways. Though the Reformed Steakhouse is not as active as it once was, there are still some threads well worth reading.

Another CFDD spin off. As the name suggests, this is a group exists primarily for dialogue and fellowship between Reformed Baptists, while allowing other Christians to participate on the side. Even as a Reformed Paedobaptist, there are many beneficial discussions in this Baptist group. They are not the Baptists who think Jesus only drank grape juice, or play antichrist guessing games.

Yet another CFDD spin off, and the Paedobaptist equivalent to the Reformed Baptist group. Even though you will likely disagree with either the Reconstructists or the Westminster Seminary-ites, this group contains many ‘iron sharpening iron’ discussions and debates on a variety of topics from perspectives within [Confessional] Reformed Theology.

CFDD is basically the Superman of Reformed Theology on Facebook. A lot of spin-offs, but all for different purposes.  The Men of CFDD is a closed version of CFDD, to discuss topics relevant to guys.  The group members are close, so unless you know someone in it, or are known by a member from elsewhere, you won’t be let in.

Another off shoot of CFDD. Designed the same as the men's group, but for women, rather than men. I could not tell you what exactly is discussed in there - and even if I could, I probably wouldn't understand it.

And I’ll conclude with one final spin off of CFDD. This group, administrated by Calvinists, is a closed group deigned to be a place where Christians [Calvinist or not] can share prayer requests – the group is not for theological debate. Just as with the two previous groups, only Christians are allowed in the CFDD Prayer Request Group.

A place for Open Theists, Pelagains, Moral Government Theorists, Sinless Perfectionists and everyone else condemned by the early church to be united in misrepresenting Calvinistic Christians, despite being corrected about 237 times. A group to stay out of, in order to avoid formulaic straw-men and not waste time. My point is: use your time on Facebook wisely. You should have higher priorities. You should use theological interaction on Facebook for mutual benefit from Christian discussion and fellowship, not to waste time.

I hope that the Reformed Christians on Facebook find this useful and helpful. But even more so, I hope you all attend church this Sunday, and the Sunday after that.

©Jonathan Williams, December 2012.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kinism: What is it? What should I think & do about it?

Recently, Kinism has once again become an issue of theological discussion, division and contention. This issue has broken Christian friendships and caused tears. The best thing that we can do for Kinists is pray for them, and edify the body of Christ despite what Kinists believe. Below is a brief definition of Kinism, a quick refutation of Kinism, then lastly a practical Christian response to Kinism.

(1) A Brief Definition of Kinism:

Kinism is the belief that the God-ordained social order for man is tribal and ethnic rather than universal. Mankind was designed by its God to live and to thrive in extended family groups, in that people of the same ethnicity are to clan together, to the exclusion of those of other ethnicities. This is dangerously unbiblical.
(2) A Quick Refutation of Kinism:
(a) The verses/concepts commonly appealed to by Kinists:

(1) Genesis 1:25: "according to kind" is not talking about Japanese and English - an example of a violation of that would be man and animal, or dog and reptile. Leviticus 18:23, 1 Corinthians 15:39.

(2) Genesis 9:20-27: The descendants of Canaan were infamous for their idolatry and sexual perversion. Nothing to do with race. Skipping over the fact that NOAH said "‘Cursed be Canaan" right at that time!

(3) Genesis 11:1-9: Their sin involved a failure to spread through the earth, Genesis 11:4b (stemming from pride).

(4) Israel as separated from other nations: The point was faith - there was capital punishment for apostasy and non-Israelites (by natural birth) joined the nation of Israel. Those who were not nationalistically Jews could by faith join the people of Israel, and would then receive the sign of circumcision that identified them with God's covenant people.

(5) Verses that talk about boarders: Yes, there are boarders and nations. There is a difference between nations being defined by citizenship regardless of culture, and nations being limited to races within that culture. Remember how Paul appeals to his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25, c.f Romans 9:3)
(b) Seven reasons why Kinism is dangerously unbiblical:

(1) All men descend from Adam (Acts 17:26), then Noah (Genesis 6-10). So, there is really only one race (Genesis 1:26-27). Nelson Mandela and I both trace back to Noah, and before that Adam.

(2) Joseph (Semitic) married Asenath (Egyptian). Genesis 41:50.

(3) Moses married a Cushite woman (area now Ethiopia-Sudan). God punished Aaron and Miriam for criticising their inter-racial marriage. Numbers 12:1.

(4) What about those who joined the nation of OT Israel? Were their children just not to marry? What about Rahab - a Canaanite? Joshua 2:9-13, 6:17, 25, Matthew 1:5.

(5) How will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10). The expansion of the people of God, is through the means of bringing the gospel to the nations (Matthew 28). This involves mixing with people of other cultures. Knism completely undermines the spread of the gospel.

(6) Kinism, replaces union with Christ with genetics (Galatians 3:28). Kinism is a practical denial of the Work of Christ, where he tore down the dividing wall between nations, so made people of all nations in covenant with God fellow citizens. Ephesians 2:11-22.

(7) Paul refereed to Himself as teacher of the Gentiles (Acts 26:4, 1 Timothy 2:7), which could not be the case if Paul was a Kinist.

(3) A practical Christian response to Kinism:

A Christian may marry one single Christian of the opposite gender who is not of certain relations or wrongly divorced, all according to the laws of the land. If a man from Canada married a woman from Ethiopia, and lived next to a man from Russia married to a woman from Brazil on one side, and a man from China married to a woman from Germany on the other side, brilliant. If there is a huge cultural divide between a man from Pakistan and a woman from New Zealand, it may be unwise to marry, but it would not be sinful. In a few years, they might be perfectly compatible to in wisdom marry and raise a family together.

I don't take this issue lightly. Within Christianity, I divide over damnable heresy, and beliefs that undermine Christian unity or common society. Sadly, Kinists do both: they would say that it was sinful for a British Christian man to marry a Korean Christian woman, and they would tell me to geographically separate from my Sudanese friends in order to stick to ones own race. If Kinist beliefs were popular, they would tear apart churches, communities, families and missions. It is to preserve Christian unity, care for the body of Christ and take our earthly duties seriously that we divide over Kinism.

I do believe that some Kinists are saved. And, I am thankful that they believe that all people are created in God's image, and can only find salvation in Christ. I really pray and wish each Kinist would abandon Kinism so that they can put such crucial orthodox beliefs into practise, and long for the day when all of God's elect from all nations (all those who trust in Christ alone) will be glorified as the eschatological church in Christ, in everlasting fellowship with Jesus Christ, who was born in Bethlehem.

(C) Jonathan Williams, November - December 2012.

Permission to use any ideas above, but please acknowledge the original author if you choose to directly quote this article.