Preaching from Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church on Jan 22, 2017


Passage: John 8:31-47

Preacher: Lindsay Brooks

Series: Sunday Morning


The Basis of Christian Activism

To think that how a society deals with the questions of right and wrong, good and evil, and the improvement of society along those lines, is /not/ within the normal working of the Church is a strange idea.

Christianity makes claims about both knowledge and action in the world that are radically different from other interpretations of the world, most of which broadly agree with one another. It is a reproach of all competing accounts of both knowledge (knowledge in general, but certainly moral knowledge, and therefore the basis upon which right action is undertaken), and action.

Therefore, Christianity wherever it goes is a reproach to authority and demands a reordering of individual souls and of society as a whole in accord with a right view of what humans are, what the universe is, who God is, and so what our duties are to humans, the universe and God.

Because of this antithesis, Christian Activism is built into the fabric of the Christian life. There is nowhere the Gospel goes where the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is not proclaimed, and this is no empty claim of dominion, but the kind that has the authority that lets Paul announce to the authorities on Mars Hill, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…” (Acts 17:30, ESV)

Note the claim of authority is epistemic (knowledge) as well as a call to right action, and that the claim is universal, directed toward “all people everywhere.”

No exception is given for rulers, lawmakers, police, judges, or any other institution. Christ’s authority does not currently coincide with His dominion as it will on the Last Day, but every Christian is a herald of that dominion, and the command is present tense, not eschatological.

This is why every Christian has some responsibility for activism toward the improvement of society in accord with the standards of the word of God; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Who are you trying to be like?

“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” (Luke 6:40)
Who are you trying to be like?
One of my favorite works of fiction stated, “The battlefield is no place for pretenders,” it always tells the counterfeit. You cannot make yourself a better strategist or soldier by wishful thinking, but in the same way a child moves to eloquence from lisping, in conversation with their parents and teachers. Having the mind of Christ means having the Holy Spirit as the one guiding us into being like Christ. Renewing your mind means having Scripture as your tutor so that you might know the Master and be like Him.
We also choose human tutors to help us. They are a God ordained means to our sanctification, but take great care here. You will be like them, too. Are they too enamored with snark and sarcasm, or are they deft with words, wielding them like a surgeon with a scalpel and not a brute with a bludgeon? Do they suspect they are likely speaking with a saint of God and take great care not to abuse the special object of God’s affection? Do they think more highly of themselves than they ought, or do they esteem everyone as more important than themselves?

Different teachers can grant us different aspects of maturity; one for interpersonal adroitness and largeness of affection, another for clarity in argumentation, a third depth in history, a fourth for good wine and music for the enjoyment of the world God made–follow each as they follow Christ.

Why I Didn’t Go To Westminster Seminary

The idea of an independent seminary, free to develop theologies without the troublesome oversight of the Church, is a strange development in the Church. A commitment to the teaching function of the Church seems to me to require that those who train our future pastors and theologians ought to be answerable to the Church in a direct way. Most of us don’t have even the option to choose a seminary connected with our denomination. I, for one, will not be able to move to St. Louis to attend Covenant Seminary, so I am forced to choose among the approved seminaries of my denomination, knowing I will come under hightened scrutiny, and I rightly should. Once churches stop putting a seminary’s graduates into pulpits, it’s over for that seminary. Neither churches, nor institutions of learning turn on a dime. A trajectory, once set, is a long time in correcting. ~Neiswonger

Sabbath Meditation: Sunday, January 31, 2016

All that stuff you do when you’d rather be doing something else? That’s the stuff that matters. Do it with care. Be present and prayerful in it.
I am particularly susceptible to longing for entertainments, but I’ve never served God, loved my family, or helped a neighbor by going to a movie, watching TV, or gaming. However, doing homework, housework, and work-work, practicing music, reading hard stuff, listening to someone vent, teaching someone, thinking about what’s good for a 4 year old, rocking a 1 year old to sleep, and labor in prayer have all done tremendous good.
Have your dessert in good measure, that’s fine, but savoring the meal is the real good… and doing the dishes after. Cultivating a preference for the higher good will make the lessor good even better because it’s in it’s rightful place and measure. Furthermore, you become a particular kind of person by the greater goods that the lessor goods can never form you into; you become a lover, a true disciple of the One Who Is Love.
We were not saved for our comforts, but for works so significant that they were foreordained that we should walk in them. We are His workmanship, and when we do these things, we are doing merely our appropriate duty.

What are the Consequences of Debunking MLK?

“The Secular world says, ‘Be tolerant /on our terms/. If you’re tolerant; if you have our view of epistemology, or our view of truth, or our view of morality then we will embrace you as a civilized and enlightened person.’ But Christianity says, ‘You just have to be breathing and I want a relationship with you.’” ~ Rev. Timothy J. Keller, Hope, Race and Power

There will be the usual discussions of MLK, his suspect scholarship, his sub-Christian theological Liberalism, his adultery, that we endure seasonally. But there is no doubt that God is able to draw straight lines with crooked sticks. The Bible is story after story of flawed men doing what God asks for God’s purpose, even adulterers, cheaters and unbelievers. God seems to choose the weak things, and by them shames the strong. All the more ought those who didn’t speak, march, and write for justice, but who were endowed with the Gospel and fellowship in the visible Church and ought to have been living out the consequences of the hope of it—spend time in self-reflection.

What do I really believe?

Does my public life reflect my private theology, or do I have the opposite problem of Dr. King, whose public life was exemplary in spite of a troubled private theology?

What if men knew of my sins? Would I stop doing what I knew was right?

If MLK was able, because of God, to do great things even if I don’t like his theology, why don’t I expect God to do great things with those, like me, who believe?

What ought I do differently today?

What if it costs me?

On Careless Memeing: Radical Jesus

I recently wrote a response to a meme that was posted by my dear friends and a member of my family, and was ‘liked’ by many others whom I count as dear friends. I admit to being hurt by the uncritical enthusiasm for this meme and the use it was put to by my dear ones. Had they but asked, we could have talked in earnest about what the historic Christian faith has said on these matters. We may have forged alliances and committed to growth.

My reply was unvarnished, and contained awkward sentences, typos, and a mis-citation. What I have done is edit and expand (slightly) for the sake of clarity. I must say also that I did not expect the resonating response from Christians, and utter silence by the friends that I was addressing. Seeing that it seemed to encourage and bless people, I resolved to provide a version less hastily composed.

Here is the URL for the meme.

Radical Jesus Meme

This is one of the /worst/, most biased, anachronistic, agenda driven meme’s I’ve seen in a long time!

Either the assertions are oversimplifications, anachronisms, or just plain wrong.


This depends on what you mean. But this is a meme so I don’t expect definitions.


Jesus was not a pacifist. If you mean that he just didn’t resist when they let him to the cross, that’s another matter. A balanced and honest view would acknowledge the instructions not to return evil for evil, and turn the other cheek, while accepting His use of force, and the overall respect for the old testament laws requiring violent response from government.

“And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” John 2:15

That’s pretty violent by today’s standards (can you imagine it at your local public gathering?). But, he also didn’t tell soldiers to stop their employment, nor kings not to exercise their power of the sword, but instead, assumed it would be the case that some violence is necessary.

He said he came to bring a sword, which is symbolic of truth and division (one passage says sword, the parallel says division). This is not a declaration of pacifism, nor of tolerance (as currently conceived), but that the truth divides.

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Evolution vs. God: A Movie Review

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Published a movie review on Ray Comfort’s Evolution vs. God in The Journal for Trinitarian Studies

Book Review: Kiss The Son

(Originally published 29 November 2012)

Book Review:

“Kiss the Son: A Christological Apology in Response to David K. Bernard’s The Oneness of God” by Michael R. Burgos Jr.

Reviewed by Lindsay Brooks

Burgos, Michael R., Jr. Kiss the Son: A Christological Apology in Response to David K. Bernard’s The Oneness of God. [Winsted]: CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2012. PDF. 150 pages.

$14.99 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Interest in the Trinity and the identity of Jesus Christ was piqued earlier this year by the now infamous ‘Elephant Room 2’ controversy centering around Oneness teacher and evangelist, pastor TD Jakes, showing the need for, among other things, an easy to understand work of reference to the Christological passages in the Bible (those passages that talk about the identity and nature of Christ). All the better if it includes exegetical notes, not only for anyone who talks with Oneness Pentecostals, but also to anyone with the moxie to invite the Saturday morning door-knockers (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc.) in for coffee. This is precisely what Michael Burgos, an associate of Christian Apologetics Research Ministries (, has provided in ‘Kiss The Son,’ a response book to David K. Bernard’s Oneness of God, volume 1 in Bernard’s series on Pentecostal theology. Bernard is the general superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International, and author of 30 books, including ‘The Oneness of God’.

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On Excellence in Apologetics

How do you become an excellent apologist? How do you get good at it? Is it better to go get a master’s degree, or should we just go out and argue until improvement comes? And how long should it take? In every field of endeavor where I have ever made any headway, I went through long, dry periods. The landscape was marked by lengthy plateaus of scant improvement. As a musician, I found those periods torturous. I labored, sometimes for months, toward some measurable improvement—and some days I seemed to go backward.


As most folk in that position do, whether formally or informally, I sought out lessons. I found people who embodied the kind of skill level I wanted to attain and I sat at their feet. I let the things they knew enter me gradually over many weeks of being regularly in their presence. It wasn’t the diagrams or notation. It was only partly the things they told me. The things I needed from them were beyond those. It wasn’t a process or method that I needed; it was extremely complex interlocking facts, like grains of sand in a sand castle. There was a mystery to be learned about how a master is with his instrument. Displace an element and the whole performance becomes a mere recitation that any computer could perform, lacking the transcendent elements that can’t be merely recited, but are part of who the musician is.


Apologetics is like that. In the same way that a Mohawk-festooned, teenage, dilettante guitarist in his parents garage finds that a certain brand of loud, aggressive music is easy to get good at, we discover that we can find some good arguments on the internet that will humble the modern, all-roads-lead-nowhere, semi-agnostic whose lack of religion is chosen the same way children choose a favorite crayon color.


Thus we proceed to the reign of terror.


The neophyte apologist throws his weight around on blog comments and Facebook pages and feels successful the way the captain of a high school basketball team might feel successful dunking on 5th graders. Generally the 5th graders just get frustrated and angry and proceed to name-calling. The fact that apologetics is not an end in itself, but serves the spread of the Gospel and the comfort of the saints, is lost among the supercilious head-shaking at how dumb “people” can be about the most fundamental questions to humanity. The task of making disciples is about real individual persons with names and struggles. Once that fact is obscured the new apologist revels in his newfound role as the bully-king of the schoolyard.


With any luck, after a while a crisis point is reached since no one really likes discovering that they are no longer invited to parties. The cost of being excluded from polite society is weighed against the pleasure of winning arguments and the way of the intellectual ninja gives way to a resolution to adopt a more sage and circumspect approach. Now the problem is: how do we learn this?


The unpracticed apologist, on his own, is unable to see beyond his own immaturity toward a fully formed model of himself because what must be known is more than what can be told: it must be gained tacitly, at the elbow of one who already embodies greater maturity. On the other hand, it cannot be merely imagined and then imitated as an actor might play a role, because you can never imagine a better apologist than you already are–you can’t pretend to have knowledge you don’t or thinking patterns you lack. Certainly, God does give wisdom to whoever asks without reproach, but the normal means is through another human being. The analogies can be multiplied–chess, kung fu, soldiering–but to avoid the triteness of martial imagery, it’s like learning to cook. A cookbook can tell you some of what you need to know, but a chef can fill in what is lacking in the person and make you a certain kind of person who does what he does. You can learn from your fellows by trial and error in an apophatic way what maturity is not. But without an exemplar maturity can only be vaguely approximated, resulting in malformed apologists.


The solution, we may imagine, is to seek to apprentice oneself under the patient, the imperturbable, the deep in Scripture and history, the philosophically shrewd, the prayerful, the consistent, the one with insight into the human heart, the repentant, the profoundly kind, the self-sacrificial, the valiant, the one who faces battle grimly, and gravely, not delighting in it, but not shrinking from doing what is necessary, the one who goes joyously to the privilege of worship. Where can this be found?


Perhaps it’s better to look for an advisory panel of mentors, rather than trying to seek all of the above in one person. Nevertheless, this is part of the teaching function of the Church. It is within the Bride of Christ as she upholds the Truth she received that we find what we’re looking for in this regard. Even our seminaries and universities must be subject to her tutelage lest they end up defending some ground other than our faith. Lone wolf apologists will lack in accountability to Church discipline. We are the Body of Christ and heirs to a faith that has been giving reason for the hope in it for more than 80 generations (and the list of new arguments is short indeed), making disciples out of unbelieving nations and strengthening the faithful. The abiding benefits have been for the Church, but also to the good of society in general, building it up as the fruit of the good works Christians are called to.


Therefore, there is no escaping the matter of time. You simply cannot telescope the process of maturity any more than you could when you were a kid wishing you were taller and stretching yourself on the monkey bars. 

What I’m suggesting is that, while we download every debate we can get our hands on, and read books, old and new, on apologetic argumentation and tactics, and master the history and philosophy necessary, all of that knowledge must be wielded by a particular kind of person. Becoming that kind of person simply can’t be rushed.