We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Days of Elijah?


A while back someone posted a video on Facebook showing a bunch of Marines in a worship service somewhere energetically singing the song, “Days of Elijah.”  I had never heard of the song before, and listening to it led me to see that it was just more pap promoting excitement and emotionalism.  I’ve since read of churches using it, but have never personally attended where it has been sung.

Well, the recent issue of Personal Freedom Outreach’s The Quarterly Journal (July-September 2015) has an excellent article from which I’ve posted several quotations:  I’d Like to Teach the Church to Sing,” by Gary E. Gilley and M. Kurt Goedelman. The following is from ppg.14-15, and specifically addresses this song.  I think it is well-worth reviewing.

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Another contemporary song that has found its way into the worship services of far too many biblically sound churches is Robin Mark’s “Days of Elijah.”  For a variety of reasons, it is remarkable how this song has earned any measure of distinction among otherwise discerning pastors and music leaders.  But it has gained respect and is readily used time and again.

First among the issues raising concern is that, according to Mark, the song was the result of inspiration:
“For me, I only know what I wrote.  I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit. … Personally I don’t know — I believeI wrote what God was telling me to write and he seems to have used the song in many ways for many people.”

Mark’s prompting by the Holy Spirit supposedly came about in answer to a prayer in which he “began asking God if He was really in control and what sort of days were were living in” as he watched the tragedies of our present day unfold.  As one blogger pointed out, “Let’s stop here for a moment.  It’s necessary to point out that just a cursory overview of Scripture shows that God is in control of everything — and He even allows bad things to take place in order to bring about His Sovereign plans.

But apparently for Mark, Scripture was not adequate for such an assurance:
“I felt in my spirit that He replied to my prayer by saying that indeed He was very much in control and that the days we were living in were special times when He would require Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal.”

Beyond Mark’s degrading the sufficiency of Scripture and his claims of inspiration, come the theological issues with the song.  First and foremost is the notion that our present days are the “Days of Elijah.”  And, as the song further announces, that ours are the days of Moses and Ezekiel and David.  The tune may be alluring and the words exciting, but ours are not the days of any of those Bible characters.  They all lived in the past.

If these are truly the days of Elijah, then it is not beyond consideration to require of those churches who proclaim that message in song to also gather 12 stones, build an altar, place wood around the altar, take a bull and cut it in pieces, fill four water posts (three times each) and pour the water on the bull and the wood, pray, and then wait and watch for the fire of the Lord to consume the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the dust, and the water.  It all becomes too plain to see that the thinking that presently these are the days of Elijah just does not measure up to the biblical narrative.

Mark also tells us in the song, “And these are the days of Your servant Moses.”  Are we to forget that 40 years’ worth of the days of Moses were spent wandering in the wilderness with a bunch of grumblers and complainers?

Moreover, as claimed in the song, “Righteousness being restored” is an idea adopted from the Latter-Rain playbook which teaches the perfection and glorification of the saints on earth that will be a testimony to the world and serve to usher in Christ’s Second Coming.  Mark tells us:
“It is an unusual song, for sure.  All of these restored things like Justice, Righteousness, Integrity, Unity, Praise and Worship and Revival are considered by many to be a herald of the last days and Christ’s return.”

Scripture speaks not of a restoration of righteousness — along with the other traits mentioned by Mark — but rather that the last days would be marked by apostasy, a falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  Recall that Jesus asked of His disciples, “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

“Days of Elijah” is one of those songs that should be avoided by any biblically minded believer.  But that is not the case as song writers such as Mark are allowed to mishandle Scripture and introduce heresies and half-truths into the Church.  Mike Milano, in speaking to the defect of the “Days of Elijah,” states:
“Today we have many false and heretical teachings in the evangelical Church.  They all stem from a mishandling of the Word of God.  They are all fueled by the ignorance of apathetic Christians who fail to fulfill their God-mandated responsibility to learn the Scriptures to the extent that they can readily recognize misinterpretation when the see it.  Millions of people sing this song every week and have no idea that the verses are not Biblically correct.  They are actually a misinterpretation of what Robin [Mark] claims he is citing.  The part that bothers me the most is that he says he got this song from the Holy Spirit; so in other words, the Holy Spirit gave Robin a song that does not line up with Biblical history and worse yet; is a misinterpretation of Biblical contexts.

Milano further observes:

“The song is not complex — just chalk-full [sic] of theological, historical, and narrative errors.  Christians who sing this song should be familiar enough with the Bible to know this. … I am sure that Robin Mark is a nice guy and he means well.  That however does not excuse the fact that his song is Biblically incorrect and that thousands of people who sing it all over the world are so Biblically malnourished that they can’t even see that the song is Biblically incorrect.  Which is more sad: the fact that a guy writes a song that doesn’t line up with Scripture, while claiming that the Lord ‘gave it to him’ — or the fact that so many Christians don't even catch the error?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dessert or Meat?


Modern praise choruses do have a place in our worship services, but that place could be likened to the place of dessert at a meal.  Dessert must not be the main feature of our daily diet or we will suffer grave consequences.  To us, a few praise choruses go a long way.  To make them the mainstay of a church’s musical diet is to fatten the church on sweets when it needs a substantial helping of healthy food.


Gary E. Gilley and M. Kurt Goedelman, “I’d Like to Teach the Church to Sing,” Personal Freedom Outreach’s The Quarterly Journal, July-September 2015 (Vol.35, No.3), pg.13

Friday, July 31, 2015

CCM -- Long on Inspiration and Short on Instruction


Contemporary Christian music, in particular, is long on inspiration and short on instruction.  Most of the popular choruses that are making the rounds today are simple lyrics of praise that, when at their best, pin-point a single truth which is repeated in one form or another throughout the song.


Gary E. Gilley and M. Kurt Goedelman, “I’d Like to Teach the Church to Sing,” Personal Freedom Outreach’s The Quarterly Journal, July-September 2015 (Vol.35, No.3), pg.13

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Random Aberrations, Apostasies, and Heresies

Horrible news this morning.  Thrivent Financial Services, which is the financial services for Lutherans (LCMS, ELCA, and WELS) has been funding Planned Parenthood!!!!  I’ve used Thrivent for life insurance for almost 30 years (from when we were still Lutherans, and it was originally Aid Association for Lutherans), and still have 12 years left on my policy.  I’m sort of stuck, since I can’t afford to start a new life policy at my age, but it you are participating in Thrivent and are able to drop them, do so!

The United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society still thinks abortion is okay is some circumstances, yet they circumstances they claim have been denied to exist for the most part by the medical field.  They talk of “reproductive justice” as if it is “justice” to murder the unborn.  Oh, they have the same lies and excuses promoted by the “pro-choice” (pro-abortion) crowd, so why do they claim to have a Christian view?  They are just like Democrats with a platform promoting “access to modern contraception” — as if there is anyone without access to contraception? (Like don’t have sex?)  And of course there is that demand for sex indoctrination in the government school system.  The UMC leadership has no concept of the value of life.  Apostasy, pure and simple.

Elizabeth Prata has a pretty good article about modern mystics who have “visions” from God; you know who they are— the “usual suspects.”  She also has a good article about the right kind of Jesus to worship, and He isn’t the sissified boyfriend version so many false teachers promote.

More supposed Christian colleges bow to the homosexualists.  Two Mennonite colleges will now employ “married” homosexuals (which is an oxymoron, since two people of the same sex aren’t married).  More apostasy.

Neil explains the problem with “affirming churches” — those who think we should forget that homosexual behavior is a sin.  It is really amazing how many “Christians” are  apostatizing FOR homosexuality!  Why don’t they do the same for fornication and divorce and adultery and prostitution, etc?  OH, wait, they already did!  Which is how homosexuality left Pandora’s box.

Do you still think the Hillsong “denomination” is okay?  Carl Lentz, the goatherd in New York, brags about how many “gay men and women” attend his assembly.  After all, he doesn’t address sin like that, because it might turn them away.  And here I thought the assembly was for CHRISTIANS!  (Let me remind you of the excellent site which continuously examines and exposes what goes on with Hillsong.)

Mormons are always trying to get real Christians to “pray” about the Book of Mormon so we will supposedly get a “burning in the bosom” from the “Holy Ghost” telling us it is true.  But should anyone pray about the BOM?  Of course not; and here’s why.

Joe Kovacs is an editor at Joseph Farah’s World Net Daily, a Christian Internet news source, but he is also a promoter of the teachings of heretic Herbert W. Armstrong.  The problem is that WND has long promoted Kovac’s books, which mislead many who follow the site.  In 2012 The Berean Call reported on the situation, and reports now that there is no improvement in that WND still promotes Kovac’s material.  A sad thing is that when Joseph Farah was alerted this week by James Kieferdorf, Farah’s response was to denigrate The Berean Call and claiming the issue is just “guilt by association”!  Then he pulled the old “follow Matthew 18” for charges, which, of course is abusing that passage.  What is the problem with these media people that they can’t just acknowledge that they’ve erred in promoting false teaching they were unaware of?!?  So be careful of theology you find at World Net Daily!

Hip and Thigh has part 2 of their review of “Which Bible Would Jesus Use”?  Very interesting stuff, demonstrating the lengths to which KJV Onlyers will go to stand by their cultic teachings.

Lastly, Doug has an excellent article summarizing the history and some of the false teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist cult.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Worship Leaders and Radio Songs


Too many times, the worship leader will hear a song on the radio that he rally likes.  It has a beautiful melody sung by a talented singer, but the intervals and range are difficult for the average church-goer to sing.  Because of this, even for the slightly-better-than-average church hymn singer, they have to abandon singing in the middle of the song.

We must keep in mind that the music itself can be a distraction when it interferes with the singing of the hymn.  Often music theory teachers will use old hymns as examples, as the intervals of these hymns are always in short steps.  (In other words, you don’t see a lot of going from A to E and back down to G below the A.  It is A-B-C-D-E-C; intervals such as this.)


Gary E. Gilley and M. Kurt Goedelman, “I’d Like to Teach the Church to Sing,” Personal Freedom Outreach’s The Quarterly Journal, July-September 2015 (Vol.35, No.3), pg.12

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Where Is the Sense of the Sacred?


Evangelical Protestantism is in trouble today as an increasing number of business and professional people are searching for a new church.  The complaint I hear most often is that people can no longer sense the sacred either in the preaching or in the liturgy. … Worship has become performance rather than praise.  The praise choruses that have preempted the great hymns of the church do not hide the fact that our worship is essentially a spectacle that appeals to the senses rather than an act of obeisance to the mighty God who is both holiness and love.  Contemporary worship is far more egocentric than theocentric.  The aim is less to give glory to God than to satisfy the longings of the human heart.  Even when we sing God’s praises, the focus is on fulfilling and satisfying the human desire for wholeness and serenity.

Donald G. Bloesch, “Whatever Happened to God?,” Christianity Today, Feb. 5, 2001, pg.54.  Cited by Gary E. Gilley and M. Kurt Goedelman, “I’d Like to Teach the Church to Sing,” Personal Freedom Outreach’s The Quarterly Journal, July-September 2015 (Vol.35, No.3), pg.11

Monday, July 27, 2015

Love Names Names


Love never kept the apostle John - the apostle of love - from calling people liars, antichrists and so on.  Indeed, it is true love to so identify those who are as such.  Then, the sheep may know clearly whom to avoid.

Jay E. Adams,  The Use of the Rod & the Staff: A Neglected Aspect of Shepherding, p.74

Sunday, July 26, 2015

No Further Revelation


Jesus told the disciples [John 16:13] that when the Spirit would come, He would lead them (the apostles) into all truth.  No more truth was to be expected beyond what the apostles taught and recorded in the books of the New Testament.  In 1 John 4:6, when discussing how to distinguish those who teach error from those who teach truth, John makes it plain that those who listen to the truth taught by the apostles are true teachers; those who do not are false teachers.  The principle Jude sets forth is precisely the same; to them was given the once-for-all deposit of truth.

Jay E. Adams,  The Use of the Rod & the Staff: A Neglected Aspect of Shepherding, p.63

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mysticism


Mysticism is caught up in producing certain states that it claims are in such close relationship to God that it is often impossible to say what is God and what is human in the experience as the two are merged.  The line between the creature and his Creator is blurred - or even erased.  That very concept is a type of pantheistic heresy since God and a sinful human being cannot come into contact in such a way.  "No one comes to the Father," Jesus said, "except by me."  Yet, the mystic is quite ready to attempt to reach God in other ways than through Christ and the gospel.

Jay E. Adams,  The Use of the Rod & the Staff: A Neglected Aspect of Shepherding, p.49

Friday, July 24, 2015

“Song of Songs” Commentary


A couple months ago one of the blogs I follow (can’t remember which) touted a new commentary on the “Song of Songs.”  It was claimed to be a wonderful cross between allegory and reading as intended.  After all, Origen and Philo had gone too far with allegory and we need to get back on an even keel.  

Titled, “Song of Songs: A Biblical-Theological, Allegorical, Christological Interpretation,” by James M. Hamilton, I finally finished reading it this week.  And was very disappointed with it.

I understand previous allegories virtually limited the text to be about either God and Israel or Christ and the Church.  As a new believer over 40 years ago I could never make sense of it other than as poetry about lovers—real people (I’ve always been a fan of poetry).  I found it to be totally nonsensical if taken as an allegory as claimed.

Anyway, in this commentary all stops have been pulled out.  Not only does it allegorize to God and Israel and Christ and the Church (as well as keeping the story about lovers), this author found some sort of allusion or allegory in almost every line of the Song!  I think Hamilton has a very, very over-active imagination, struggling too much to make his allegories and allusions!  

Just one example:  Chapter 7:7-8 talks about her stature being like a palm tree that he’s going to climb for its fruit; try to follow if you can: 

The poetic allusion in view here stems from the fact that the word rendered ‘palm tree’ in Song 7:7-8 is made of the same consonants and vowels as the name Tamar, a name familiar from Genesis 38 and 2 Samuel 13.  In Genesis 38 Judah used his daughter-in-law Tamar as a prostitute, a gross perversion of God’s intention for marital intimacy.  In 2 Samuel 13 Amnon seized Tamar, his sister, and raped her (cf.2 Sam. 13:11,14), another twisted corruption of God’s good gift.  Neither prostitution nor rape should feature in the history of the people of God.  These horrors would be associated with the name Tamar, and these wrongs will be set righting the Song.  Here in Song 7:7-8, the King approaches a ‘Tamar,’ a palm tree, and he says that he is going to ‘lay hold of its fruit (Song 7:8).  In this context, a context celebrating renewed intimacy in marriage, the King taking the fruit of his tree accomplishes the overwriting of a bad file.  The King has conducted himself in horn and righteousness where Judah and Amnon were shameful and unrighteous.

“In Song 7:7-8, the King also once again draws on terms and imagery used for the land of promise to describe the Bride [all the way through SoS he does this - every description for the Bride is imagery from the promised land or the Garden of Eden].  The ‘clusters of the vine’ are reminiscent of the famous ‘cluster of grapes’ that the spies of the land brought back in Numbers 13:23.  The King will enjoy the fruit the Israelites were too timid to take.  Not only is the King approaching his ‘Tamar’—the palm tree—in righteousness where Judah and Amnon used their Tamars in unrighteousness, the King’s palm-tree-Bride willingly gives herself in 7:10-13, saying that she wishes he were ‘like a brother’ in 8:1.  The Bride wishing the King were a beloved brother again engages the distorted brother-sister relations between Amnon and Tamar, overlaying negative connotations with positive.

This was the type of “allusion” or “imagery” used for almost every passage.  It was enough to make me want to pull my hair out!  This was the most convoluted commentary I have ever read!

What can I recommend for a good commentary on SoS?  I have three I like, all of which stick to the idea of this being a poem about lovers only—no allegory!

Biblical Lovemaking: A Study of the Song of Solomon, by Arnold Fruchtenbaum

The Book of Romance: What Solomon Says About Love, Sex, and Intimacy, by Tommy Nelson.  I did write a comment in the front of this book: “There are a lot of assumptions about what is going on and why, beyond what Scripture says.  It doesn’t change anything, though.  It would be better if the author said, ‘This is probably what he’s thinking’ or ‘probably what’s happening is, rather than dogmatically declare it.”

The Song of Songs: A New Translation, by Ariel Bloch and Chana Bloch.  This one is done by non-believing scholars, who do not accept the Bible as the Word of God.  They often talk of “myth,” “legend,” etc and “non-literal translation.”  There are also some confusing areas where they mix the narrative, but that’s easily sorted.  They also don’t consider it about a bride, but just a lover.  Most of the liberal theological garbage you have to wade through is the first chapter, which is sort of an introduction to what the story is about and different ideas, yada yada.   Then you have their translation, followed by their commentary.  The primary problem is they think this is not a marital situation, but overall they have some very interesting reading to be had in their commentary.

So there you have it: of four specific commentaries I’ve read, I cannot recommend the latest.  It will make you dizzy trying to follow all the allusions and allegories!