Are you “alogical?”

Until about 5 minutes ago I had never heard the term alogical. That is because it is a made up term. It is a term that was made up by Dr. Kevin Bauder at Shaper Iron. It is a term that he is using for this purpose:

I have given this name to the philosophical position that denigrates the role of reason or logic in theology and morality. Alogicals take the slogan Sola Scriptura to an unwarranted extreme. They deny that we may proclaim “Thus saith the Lord,” unless we have a direct, verbatim Scripture to quote.

I think that we all know people who fit this description. You know, the guys who need a proof text for everything that comes out of the pastor’s mouth. The fact of the matter is the Dr. Bauder is correct in is assesment of this philosophy.
Dr. Bauder continues:

Let’s begin by considering the act of reading. Alogicals seem to assume that reading is simply a matter of running their eyes over the words on a page, upon which meaning somehow (magically?) registers itself in their minds. They seem to believe that the transfer of meaning through the written page is automatic and intuitive.

Nothing could be further from the truth. When we read, we are constantly engaged in a process of drawing inferences. We observe words and phrases, and we infer that one is a subject, another is a predicate, and yet another is an object. We are constantly distinguishing nouns from verbs from modifiers from connectives. We reason that a particular sentence explains something, while another asks a question, and a third issues a command. We reason about the connection of words within a sentence, of sentences within a paragraph, and of paragraphs within a whole work.

If we are skilled in a language, we may draw all of these inferences so rapidly that they appear to be intuitive. When we engage in serious exegesis, however, we take these apparent intuitions and test them through a process of deliberate induction and analysis. Indeed, another name for our exegetical method is the inductive‐analytical method.

This observation is too important to miss. All textual understanding—ALL of it—is the result of induction and analysis. This includes our understanding of the text of Scripture. We have never once understood any biblical proposition without engaging in a process of reasoning.

The truth of the matter is that we all bring presuppositions to the text when we seek to do the work of exegesis. The problem comes when we refuse to admit these presuppositions. The result of ignoring our presuppositions is that we will never judge them in light of Scripture without admitting them. Or, as Dr. Bauder puts it, we must acknowledge that our own reasoning plays a roll in exegesis.

Here is how Dr. Bauder concludes his thoughts:

Therefore, to suggest that the statements of Scripture are somehow more authoritative than inferences drawn from those statements is, at best, horribly naïve. It is the position of a juvenile who has never reflected upon what she or he actually does when reading the Bible. When this position is pressed with an air of moral superiority, it becomes colossal arrogance. Alogicals elevate their own inferences to the level of biblical authority by simply refusing to recognize that they are inferences, while simultaneously denying anyone else’s authority to reason from the statements of Scripture.

Here is the grave difficulty with alogicality. Alogicals cannot produce a single statement of Scripture that requires their position in so many words. There is no verse in the Bible that says, “It is wrong to impose moral requirements that are merely inferred from Scripture.” In order to sustain their own moral pose, alogicals are forced to draw inferences.

This is an article that I would highly suggest to everyone.

Searches that found a Cup of Coffee

Here are some searches that have recently found this blog. Some are understandable, some are wierd, and some were just in the wrong place.

Hopefully they found what they were looking for

new creationsit point of view

sermon on the mission of the Church

big idea James 2:1-3

God gives without reproach

godly wisdom

mission and the church

john piper sermon on a desire and passion to serve

Galatians 5 “Fruits of the Spirit”

brief reformation day

“he will complete the work that he began

How are Galatians and James similar?

how to find joy in Christ

being a Youth Pastor

expository sermon on James 2:14-26

how of book of joel old testament relate

“to put the ocean into this hole”

john huss solus christus

the work of the church is not

must regeneration take place for salvati

james son of zebedee writes books

explain work out your salvation with fea

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and b

Looking for answers about DaVinci Code (probably left quickly)

clear understanding of the bride of Jesucreation of Catholic Canon creation of Catholic Canon

who is the bride of Christ (there were a ton more just like these)

Found a sport short/goofy post that I did

happy anniversary sung to william tellbraves rookie hazing

Dale Holman

flintstones happy anniversary (apparently a ton of people know that song)

lockhart” “ West Coast Christian College

nick saben flag

No clue what they are talking about????

how would you describe a cup of coffee

entertaining talk beatitude

god bicker

scripture to clear the mind

“Jeffrey Wells” & Illinois (???)

coffee cup divination signs

songs appropriate for initial or trial s

Used the word coffee

Coffee Talk Robe

most cups of coffee for a human

coffee talk with my boss (did not find what they were looking for) Coffee Cup Theology

Did not find what they were looking for

girls self image needs spiritual guidenc

need youth pastor

uncircumcision what does it look like

James 4:4 (the conclusion)

coffee-cup-beans.jpgSince apparently his readers did not understand what he was talking about James explains in even more detail why friendship with the world is hostility towards God. As James boils it down we see that the central issue is what do you desire? The word here that is translated “wishes” (βουληθῇ) really means to desire, or long after, or even prefer. Think about it again. “Therefore whoever desires/longs/prefers to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” They preferred earthly desires over God.

I want to make something very clear to you at the outset. As you read this passage I do not want you to think that the problem here was that these people desired their own pleasure. That was not the problem. The problem was that they tried to attain this pleasure through the wrong things. They sought satisfaction in worldly things, that were never meant to be satisfying, rather than finding satisfaction in God. C.S. Lewis wrote one of the best sermons ever written on this subject. The title of this sermon is “The Weight of Glory. ” Let me give you a short quote from the introduction of this sermon that sums up well the point Lewis was making.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion… is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go n making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Lewis has captured perfectly the sins of the adulterous people find in this verse. They were far too easily pleased. They were fooling around with earthly pleasures when God had offered infinite joy to them through the Gospel. The problem was not their pursuit of joy; their problem was that they settled for mud pies when eternal glory was available.

The question is, are we pursing joy by desiring the world, or our we pursuing joy by desiring God? When it comes to this issue you need to be in constant examination of your life. It is so easy to fall into the trap of pursing earthly pleasure. It is what we can see here and now. It is a lot easier to get. But this pleasure is not even comparable with the joy of pursuing God through the gospel. What do you desire? To use the phrase from the NASB what do you wish for? If the goals and desires of your life are wrapped up in this world James is very clear about the result. You prefer something above God, and thus you are God’s enemy. As students you are making preparations now for what your life will look like twenty years from now. Are you preparing for a life that desires God above all else? I spoke with a young man last week who want to be a doctor. He told me that he is going to make it big. Big house, nice cars, boat, golf membership, vacation home, and whatever else he desires. What is so sad is that none of those things will make him happy. Until he desires God he will always be lacking joy. Do not make the mistake of this young man. Arrange the priorities of your life right now so that God is your number one priority.

Let me close with one final passage from the gospel of Matthew. In Matthew 13:44 Christ describes what the kingdom of Heaven is like.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

This man discovered an unbelievable treasure. It was so great that he sold everything he had to get it. People must have thought he was crazy to give up everything just for a field. But he knew that the treasure in the field would be far greater than all of his possessions. Out of joy he desired this treasure. This is like the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ is the treasure, and in order to receive that treasure we must be willing to give up all other earthly desire to pursue Him. Is Christ your treasure? Are you pursuing Him out of joy? The adulterous people of James 4:4 were most definitely not.

James 4:4 pt. II

James begins this verse quite abruptly. In the Greek it is one word, Adulteresses! You can almost hear the intensity in James’ word. It is a far cry from the “my brethren” that James began 2:1. That being said, it should not surprise us that James uses such strong language here. Just a couple of sentences ago James equated these people’s lust with murder. It should be very clear to us that these people were immersed in the world rather than God. This is what James means when he calls them adulteresses. He is using the term in a spiritual sense, and if we read on the rest of the verse will tell us what it means to commit spiritual adultery. Ultimately it comes down to what you desire more. Do you desires the pleasures of this world (v. 1), or do desire God? To desire friendship with the world is to commit spiritual adultery. This means when we love the sinful pleasures of this world more than the God who created the world, made man in His own image, and had provided a means of Grace through Christ we commit spiritual adultery. I know that none you are married, but can you image your spouse doing this to you? You invest you entire life into a person, you love them, you desire to be with them, and then you find you that they have given their affections to another person. Unfortunately these situations are all too common in this world. And when these situations do arise, my mind immediately sees two different perspectives. First, how awful that someone would commit this act, and desire someone else above their spouse. But I also think of how much pain it causes for the spouse who remains faithful. To love someone with a burning passion and find out that this love is not mutual must be shattering. This is the kind of act that James is talking about. In the OT we learn that Israel was guilty of adultery in their relationship with God. God went to great lengths to show Israel their sin; this is seen in no better place than the book of Hosea. In Hosea 1:2-3 God tells Hosea to marry a woman and that this woman will commit acts of harlotry. Hosea obeys God and marries Gomer. God did this so that Hosea, as a prophet, could show the people of Israel their own spiritual adultery. In 3:1 this story continues. It is obvious that Gomer left Hosea, and God’s command was to go and again take Gomer as his wife. At the end of verse 1 we see why God orchestrated all of this: “even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” What an amazing picture we have here of God’s grace. But we must remember that to have a desire for something that is stronger than your desire for God, is to be a spiritual adulteress.

James’ question in all of this was, “do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” These people were Jews who had been around the OT, and they claimed to be believers who had been exposed to the teaching of the Christ; yet they did not understand their own spiritual adultery. They wanted to make friends with the world. James is not talking about being a friend to unbelievers, but rather being a friend to the world-system we saw in 3:15. The word that James uses for friendship (φιλία) has the idea of loving, or showing affection. In fact, there are instances in secular literature of this word group being used to describe a kiss. The reason I bring this up is to highlight to you the connection of friendship with the world and adultery in our relationship with God. James’ original readers wanted to be followers of Christ, and completely comfortable in this world all at the same time. That is impossible. In John 15:18-18 Christ said:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

If we are true friends of Christ, which means that we have submitted to Him as Lord and we are showing him the affection of a friend, then we cannot be friends with the world. To be a friend to the world to accept a world-system that is opposed to God. John MacArthur described this system in these words; “This system is a self-centered, godless value system… [And] the goal of the world is self-glory, self-fulfillment, self-indulgence, self-satisfaction, and every other form of self-serving, all of which amounts to hostility toward God.” These people should have understood this principle. If they had truly been the friends of God they would have understood this principle. 1 Corinthians 2:12 teaches us that if we are true believers we will desire God more than earthly pleasures because we have received the Spirit and understand what has been given to us. In other words, by the work of the Spirit we will understand how much better than earthly gratification, and more joyful, and more fulfilling a life of pursuit after God will be to us. The truth of the matter is that these people desired to gratify their desires more than God. They were friends of the world and enemies of God.

James 4:4 -Desire for the World = Hostility toward God

In 1938 there was a significant conflict going on in Europe. At the heart of this conflict was none other than Adolf Hitler himself. Nazi Germany, with Hitler at the helm, had begun to take over regions of Europe beyond its own borders. As this was going on tensions began to rise among European superpowers, and for the first time since WWI military forces had been mobilized. As September of 1938 rolled around it seemed as if a region of Czechoslovakia would be Hitler’s next target. Both France and the Soviet Union had alliances with Czechoslovakia, but both were unprepared to help defend
Czechoslovakia in war. In an effort to avoid any further conflict a conference of European leaders was called with the purpose of discussing the future of Czechoslovakia (In an interesting side note Czechoslovakia was not even invited to the conference.). The decision of this conference, which is now known as the Munich Agreement, was the surrender of a strategic border city in Czechoslovakia, and de facto control over the rest of
Czechoslovakia as long as Hitler promised to go no further. All of this was done to end the conflict, and avoid war. The PM of Britain, Neville Chamberlain, returned from this conference boasting that he had returned “from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”  Unfortunately PM Chamberlain was dreadfully wrong. The problem was that there was conflict that went deeper than this issue of Czechoslovakian land. This deeper conflict centered on Hitler’s desire for power, and ultimately resulted in WWII. In the first 3 verses James 4 we have seen the outer conflict that plagued the recipients of this letter. What we will see in verse 4 is that there is a deeper conflict that is at the heart of the problem. This conflict is a conflict with God.

James begins this verse quite abruptly. In the Greek it is one word, Adulteresses!  You can almost hear the intensity in James’ word. It is a far cry from the “my brethren” that James began 2:1. That being said, it should not surprise us that James uses such strong language here. Just a couple of sentences ago James equated these people’s lust with murder. It should be very clear to us that these people were immersed in the world rather than God. This is what James means when he calls them adulteresses. He is using the term in a spiritual sense, and if we read on the rest of the verse will tell us what it means to commit spiritual adultery…

James 4:2-3 – Pleasure, Prayer, and Wrong Motives

We continue to see the drive to fulfill selfish desires through worldly means in vv. 2b-3.  Here in these verses we see that even in the act of prayer these people were self-centered, and focused on worldly motives.  James first says “You do not have because because you do not ask.”  This is clearly a reference to prayer.   To many of these people it did not even occur to them to ask God for help of any kind.  These are the people who see themselves as self-sufficient, and able to take care of themselves.  They have such a high view of themselves that they think all their needs can be met through their own wisdom and efforts.  Instead of turning to the giver of every perfect gift (1:17) they attempted to satisfy their desires through their own effort.  At this point we should pause and think about our own situations.  How many times do we go through difficult situations in our lives without prayer?  We may look back and think about how useful it would have been to pray; but we never fall on our faces before the Lord in the midst of the trial.  Could it be that we think so much of ourselves that we are busy trying to “fix” our situation rather than depending on the God who “made” the situation.  What irony that we spend much of our lives trying to “fix” difficult situations when it is God who “made” the situation. 

            Well, to this some of James’ readers would have responded to James by saying that they had prayed.  To this James also has a response: “You ask and do not have because you ask with wrong motives, so that you might spend it on your pleasures.”  This means that some of these people did pray about their situation, but they did not receive their desired outcome.  In 1 John 5:14 it says “that if we ask anything… He hears us in whatever we ask.”  So the question is, why did these people pray and the outcome that they prayed for did not happen.  We find the answer to the phrase that I left out of 1 John 5:14, and in James 4:4.  John says if we ask “according to His will, He hears us.”  The prayers of those we read about in James were the exact opposite of this.  We learn from James that these people prayed the wrong motivation.  Rather than praying according to God’s will these people prayed to fulfill their worldly pleasures.  Here we find that word again.  Pleasures!  Even in their prayers (that is those who did pray) these people were only looking to fulfill their worldly desires.  These people did not understand what it meant to pray according to the will of God.  Do we?  What does it mean to pray according to the will of God?  I think that we can glean a lot about what John means when he said to pray in the will of God from his earlier writings in the Gospel according to John.  In John 15:16 he deals with this issue of prayer.  The logic of this verse is very important.  Why would God answer all our prayers (notice the parallel between this and 1 John 5:14)?  The answer is because we have been sent by Christ on a mission to bear fruit.  This means that fulfilling Christ’s mission of fruit bearing and praying according to the will of God are connected.  Let’s push further in John 15:14.  What we see is that the Father gave prayer to the disciples because Jesus had given them a mission.  God has designed prayer, and given it to us to use it for the mission.  This means that prayer is designed to further the

kingdom of
God into area of the world that are fruitless.  Prayer is for the purpose of creating more and more God-glorifying actions.  I think that John Piper has aptly described prayer as “a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief.”  To paraphrase a question Piper brings up, “are we guilty of turning a wartime walkie-talkie into a domestic intercom?  Piper has this to say, “We tried to rig it up as an intercom in our houses and cabins and boats and cars- not to call in fire power for conflict with a mortal enemy, but to ask for more comforts…”  This quote was extremely convicting for me.  How many of our prayers are like those we read of in verse 3; motivated by the desire to fulfill our own worldly pleasure?  We need to repent of prayer lives that are either nonexistent or self-centered, and turn our prayer life into a means of accomplishing the mission and glorifying God.

James 4:1-2

So this is what James means by the word “pleasures,” but how does this earthly pursuit of gratification “wage war in your members?”  We must understand that James is not referring to church members here, but instead to the physical and mental members of one’s body.  The war is the war between an unbelievers flesh and consciences.  Despite the fall of man even unbelievers have an awareness of God and His truth.  We find this in Romans 1:18 & 24-25.  Even unbelievers have enough awareness of God’s truth to be disturbed by sin. 

            It is a Christian truth from God that murder is wrong, but you do not have to be a Christian to understand that.  But why is this so?  John MacArthur explains it this way:

 

“The fall of man corrupted the race, affecting every part of man’s being. Yet because man is made in God’s image, he retains a certain nobility and dignity that may be reflected even in those who are unsaved. Many unbelievers are kind and generous, peace-loving and self-giving. Many are extremely talented, creating beautiful music and art, making great scientific discoveries and inventing amazing machines and technology. But without God, their fleshly impulses and passions fight against that residual nobility. And desires for the wrong kinds of pleasures, the wrong kinds of satisfaction, and selfish fulfillment inevitably wage an internal war, a war within [their] members, with everything that stands in their way.”[1]

 

I think that MacArthur is correct in explaining what this inner conflict is, but it is hard to define exactly what the inner conflict is because James emphasizes the result of the conflict more than the conflict itself.  This is why the result of inner-conflict will be our main focus.

            James makes it clear, just like he did in 3:16, that their worldly desires had bad results.  James writes “you lust and you do not have; so you commit murder.”  By using the term murder here in v. 2 James startles his readers.  It is unlikely that James’ original readers had come to the point of actually killing one another, but through his startling language James’ sought to show them the depths of their evil behavior.  James has depended on the teachings of Christ heavily in his letter; specifically the book of Matthew.  In Matthew 5:21-22 we find Jesus talking about murder.  Here Jesus teaches that it does not take the actually killing of someone to be condemned of the law.  In fact, he says that anyone who is angry is guilty.  In a similar manner John addresses this issue in 1 John 3:15.   Here we read that “anyone who hates his brother is a murderer…”  It seems probable that this was the teaching that James had in mind.  That being said, it would not be beyond the realm of possibility that they were actually murder one another.  Lust is a dangerous thing, and when it does not get what it wants it lashes out.  A great example of the great power of lust is found in Genesis 19:11.  Here we see that the men of
Sodom lusted after the messengers of the Lord.  Even after they were struck blind they continued to try and get through the door into
Lot’s house.  Lust can be a very powerful thing, and it is for that reason I cannot say with absolute certainty that these people weren’t actually murdering one another.

            Regardless of whether or not they were killing people their behavior was very destructive.  James goes on to write that they were envious and could not obtain; so they fought.  Think for a moment about what these people were doing.  They saw what other people had and they wanted it.  When they couldn’t get it they fought for it.  They were not fighting to keep what belonged to them, or against some injustice.  They fought to take from others what they had long been envious of.  These people had hatred and anger towards people because of envy.  The people that they hated didn’t necessarily do anything to them; they just had more stuff.  “It wasn’t fair.”  Can you imagine living life like this?  Not only wanting what other people have, but also being angry with people because they have it.  This happens all the time.  It may be a nicer house, or car, or a boyfriend/girlfriend, maybe it’s a TV, or playstation, it could even be popularity.  We become jealous of what others have, and then we cannot even stand to be around them.  We want what they have.  For some reason we even want them to loose what they have.  This is the conflict that will arise from the pursuit of worldly gratification.


[1]MacArthur, J. (1998). James.
Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.