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
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dangerous Advice For Anxiety

A young woman my wife and I have been counseling for several years (for various issues) read the book, The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety For Good?, by Rhett Smith.  Before reading it she asked me if I knew anything about the author which would lead me to not recommend him.  Well, when I “googled” Mr. Smith the most I could discern about him was that he was likely to hold fairly liberal views, but the church he attended seemed to have fundamental teaching.  

After she read the book (and telling me how wonderful it was), she passed it to me and asked me to tell her what I thought about it.  So last month I took some time here and there to read it, and immediately I had to take notes due to the bad stuff I was encountering.  I decided to write up a review for her rather than trying to explain all the issues in conversation, so for the pst couple weeks, as time permitted, I have been writing up this review — and I just finished!

I decided this review needed to be posted on my blog as a danger signal to anyone else out there who may be contemplating reading this book.

Overall I think this book is one of the most dangerous I’ve ever read, with the extremely poor advice, twisting of Scriptures, promoting false teachers, and practicing horrid secular psychology dressed up as Christian.  Even the footnotes are loaded with authors who teach “psychobabble.”

Without going into a deep detailed review, I’m just going to highlight problem areas — and just highlighting will be lengthy!  So here we go:

P.11  Cites M. Scott Peck’s, The Road Less Travelled.  Peck is a false teacher who is steeped in mysticism, and whose teachings are condemned by solid biblical scholars and apologetics ministries.  Christian Research Institute has a good primer about Peck’s false teachings.

P.20  Praises Tim Keller.  Keller has some good teachings, but his poor teachings and false teachings outweigh any good.  For example, Keller denies the literal understanding of Genesis when discussing the Creation and the Flood, and is a theistic evolutionist.  Additionally, he teaches Catholic and Quaker mysticism (as well as promoting Catholicism in general), teaches Lectio Divina, and even teaches pop-psychology himself! To top it all off, he promotes the social gospel!

P.30  Abuses Jeremiah 29:11, which is specifically—and only—about Israel in a certain context, and Smith makes it about individuals.  I’ve exposed this abusive use in an article on my blog.

P.32  Promotes pure psychobabble about what anxiety is and how to deal with it.

P.43  Says that Rhett Smith got his Masters of Divinity degree from Fuller Seminary, which is about as liberal of a seminary as you will find.  Which explains a lot about his theology!

P.48 ff.  He assumes God calls us on a journey rather than just allowing us to go on a journey, which means in Smith’s teaching there is no plan other than Romans 8:28.  But in real life there are various stages in our lives.

P.50 ff.  Praises the writings of emergent, mystic, heretic Donald Miller.  Cites Miller at one time asking, “Are you living a good story?”  God doesn’t care about our “story”!! It’s all just feel-good emotionalism.

P.53  More praises for M. Scott Peck teachings!

P.55  The “exercises” are exercises in pure psychobabble, with no value whatsoever, as are the exercises at the end of most chapters - just childish, self-focused busy-work.

P.64.  Fuller’s “Marriage and family therapy program” (MSMFT) is pure psychobabble of “discovering self.”  Seek a “genogram”? — this all may tell you something about your family’s origin, but it says absolutely NOTHING about YOU and who YOU are!

P.66  Remembering nonsense it totally unbiblical.

P.68, 69  Charting family is okay to seek genetic defects, but things like anxiety don’t pass genetically.  His “genogram” is no different than anyone else’s.  Smith’s self-pity is blamed on his family stuff rather than personal responsibility, and this is standard psychobabble.  Everyone experiences such things, but most people just accept them and move on rather than wallowing in victimhood — “feeling abandoned.”

P.74  Smith praises the unbiblical Lent and Lenten season.  But then, since he is really into mysticism, this doesn’t surprise me.

P.75  Cites liberal N.T. Wright and his assertion about what the disciples of Christ felt/thought; he just makes it up.

P.76  “God does not leave you alone in your anxiety.”  Um, where does the Bible say this?  God may very well leave you alone in it, so you will seek Him!  And how does one go about “reimagining” anything?!?! That is a nonsensical buzzword. 

P.77  Smith cites false teacher Eugene Peterson (very emergent and new age teachings, including his version of the Bible, “The Message,” which totally misrepresents the actual Bible).  No one should cite false teachers in a positive manner!

P.80  The “what if” choices.  Does God really care what choice you make in these areas, as long as the motive isn’t sinful?  Absolutely not!  (And again we have that useless word, “reimagining”.)

P.83  Smith denounces Christians who say psychology is wrong!  Even though there is no science behind it, even though there are hundreds of psychological theories and methods, Christians are supposed to accept the unbiblical nature of psychology because he says so.  The anecdote at the bottom of the page is most likely made up.

P.84  Smith says that God puts anxiety in us for a purpose.  This is totally unbiblical, especially when the Bible says we are to not be anxious! (Phil. 4:6-8).

P.85  Smith says, “If God had meant for me to not be anxious, then He would have called me to some other vocation…”  It is plain with Smith’s false teaching and support of false teachers that God DID NOT call him to this vocation!  God wants us to not be anxious but knows we will, which is why we should contemplate Phil. 4:6-8!

P.87  Smith cites Rollo May, who is well known as a quack who Christians should not pay attention to.

P.87, 88  Lots of promotion of Søren Kierkegaard, who often had very unbiblical ideas and was very much a part of the “enlightenment.”  Not someone Christians should look up to.  An example of Kierkegaard’s bad teaching is at the bottom of p.88.

P.91  The Hideaway Marriage Experience.  This is all about “group therapy” using pure secular psychological ideology rather than Biblical principles.  Sometimes the two are syncretized to corrupt biblical ideology.  Smith’s whole background is secular psychology, which is about as anti-Christian as it gets.  His primary focus is on the self.

P.96  Contrary to what is implied here, Jacob’s anxiety about meeting Esau was healthy; he had every reason to fear, and his anxiety about it spurred him to make good decisions for the protection of his family.

P.99  Cites Karl Barth, another teacher on Kierkegaard’s level; Barth considered the Bible to be a fallible work of men, not necessarily accurate historically, and he later embraced universalism.

P.99  Cites liberal feminist Phyliss Trible favorably.

P.101  Citing another false teacher, Henri Nouwen; a mystic who is a Roman Catholic and ecumenicist who supports universalism.

P.103  Truth is described as being relative to self, so we need to replace “old truth” with “new truth.”  Truth is NOT relative, it is not “old” vs “new—truth is truth regardless of individual viewpoints.

P.104 Smith speaks of “multiple world wars.”  There were only TWO!!

P.119  ff. Cites another psychotherapist, Thomas Moore, who is also heavy into mysticism, and promotes his unbiblical teachings about fostering one’s “soul.” Again, it’s all about self and mysticism.

P.121  More citations of false teacher Eugene Peterson.

P.123  More teachings about self-love. The Bible already assumes we love ourselves (when we are told to love others as ourselves, and when we are told that no one hates his own body—Eph. 5:29).  The whole self-esteem paradigm has led to a culture of people full of self-importance.

P.124  More discussion of the unbiblical practice of Lent.

P.126.  Smith calls Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts,” a “wonderful book.”  This book is full of rank false teachings and heresy, and has been exposed by many, many solid teachers and apologetics ministries as a horrid book.  Voskamp is well-known for teaching bizarre sexuality/sensuality in her relationship with God.

P.130 Exercise shows self-focus of the teaching.

P.137  More teaching about the need for self-love.

P.138  Smith makes Christ’s death all about him rather than for mankind, and therefore says Christ must have thought he personally was important enough to save.

P.138 ff  Sabbath-keeping.  Christians (and Gentiles in general) were never meant to keep the Sabbath, since the Sabbath was a sign of a covenant between God and Israel.  That makes this whole section of the book nothing but nonsensical false teachings to be avoided.

P.148  Smith says he lived in a state of anxiety but he was really living in a state of selfishness.

P.151  Smith talks about David Crowder and how he helped host Crowder at his church.  Crowder is another well-known mystic with false teachings.

P.159-160  Said he felt like he was/is losing himself to his wife, etc.  This is a selfish attitude, because we don’t “lose” ourselves to our partners, rather we become one with them all the while keeping one’s separate identity.  This whole attitude demonstrates his immaturity and self-focus, as is expected with his ideology.  He had to have his own therapist!  This is not a person I would trust to teach me anything about marriage.

P.162  Smith says the idea of giving up oneself for the spouse is a misconception of the relationship.  I think the “misconception” is what he thinks that means.  In a proper marital relationship both partners give up themselves for the unity.  This takes away selfish interests and focuses on the relationship, which will always be a relationship of compromises to the better end for both.  This should NOT create anxiety in the marriage as he claims.   Again, giving up oneself to the relationship does not mean “losing” oneself.

P.165, bottom.  This confession of his self-focus and insecurity in marriage is an example of why he should not be counseling anyone.  While he says this was early in his marriage, the whole book has him always being anxious about something, has to continually “reimagine” his anxiety, and has his own therapist who he sees for “routine therapy checkups”. He is too steeped in self and psychobabble.

P.166  Citing false teacher Eugene Peterson, Peterson said, “Jesus did not raise himself…”  In John 2:19-22 Jesus said he would raise himself.  Other passages which say God raised him only confirm that Jesus is God. The whole teaching by Smith on this page is that our overcoming our anxiety is based on Jesus’ resurrection.  The Peterson citation says, “The more we practice resurrection…”  We don’t “practice resurrection”!  We are resurrected ONCE, and it is a physical resurrection.  It is abuse of Scripture to use “resurrection” as Smith and Peterson do.

P.170  He said he heard a voice from God/Jesus telling him what to do, and how He will “walk alongside of you.”  Since God does not foster false teachings, this voice, if Smith really heard it (which I highly doubt because we do not get direct revelation from God), wasn’t from God!

P.171 He tells of one of his therapy checkups; a man who continually needs therapy has no business being a therapist! (This was in October 2010 and the book was copyright 2011!)  The therapy session itself was one huge dose of nonsensical psychobabble!

P.178  Smith bemoans the stigma by “parts of our Christian culture about seeking professional help…”  Well, the next page demonstrates that the stigmas should be practiced by ALL Christians, since psychotherapy is an unscientific and anti-Christian philosophy.  The paragraph in the middle of the page cites all the myriads of “treatments” recommended for depression, while misrepresenting what Nouthetic (Biblical) counselors actually teach.

P.189 Smith promotes the use of “medication” for anxiety.  This medication is promoted by Big Pharma but is very often quite harmful with its side effects.  No one should be using pills for anxiety.  He likens actual medical, biological, organic illnesses to mental states as to why pills should be used for emotional issues!  He continues on the next page trying to prove that mental and organic issues can be compared and complains that many Christians stigmatize the use of psychotropic medications. He asserts that God gifted researchers who develop these drugs, yet considering the hazards of said drugs I would say it is highly unlikely that God would be helping with their development!

P.191  Smith promotes rank heretic Rob Bell’s totally unbiblical book Velvet Elvis, about a “mysterious God who wants to transform you.”  Rob Bell is not a Christian, albeit he pretends to be, and has some of the worst teachings out there.  His book has been criticized by numerous solid Bible teachers, pastors, and apologetics ministries.

So here we have a book authored by a totally non-discerning individual who has routine therapy sessions himself, a book which is rife with false teaching and psychological inanity, promoting many false teachers — and the book is promoted as being helpful for Christians!!!  As noted at the beginning of this review, I believe this book to be extremely dangerous teachings, and am appalled that it is published by Moody.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What Our Youth Needs

The church is not in the business of entertaining young people, but calling them to discipleship in Christ and separation from the world and holiness of living.  It is true that what you win them with you win them to.  If a church use worldly means to win young people, those thus won will be worldly.  If a church has an organized youth group, it must be very careful about the selection of those who lead the youth.  Young people don’t need a “good times Charlie.”  They don’t merely need another buddy who will pal around with them in fun and games.  They get plenty of that.  What they desperately need, and what the church is required by God to give them, are godly, spiritually mature people who will love them and show them the path of God’s perfect will, who will call them to reject the vain, “cool” ways of this present wicked world, who will challenge them to be pure, to pull down the worldly idols from their hearts, to give themselves wholly to the service of Jesus Christ while there is still time, to yield to Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.

David W. Cloud, Contemporary Christian Music Under the Spotlight, pg.201

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Bible “Contradictions” Rebutted, #7

This is the final post of the series.

Contradiction claim #52, What were Jesus' last words?

Matt. 27:46,50:  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
Luke 23:46:  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
John 19:30:  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
None of this is contradictory; each author just told the part that he wanted to report or what he remembered. Here is the most likely sequence, combining the three texts:  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, “This man calleth for Elias.”  After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, “I thirst.”  Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.  The rest said, “Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.”  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.”   And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Contradiction claim #53, What was the color of the robe placed on Jesus during his trial?

Matt. 27:28  Scarlet
John 19:2  Purple
John MacArthur, commenting on Matthew 27:28, says of the apparent discrepancies, “scarlet robe. Mark 15:17 and John 19:2 say ‘purple,’ suggesting that the robe may have been something between royal purple, and ‘scarlet,’ the closest thing they could find to the traditional garb of royalty.”  The NET Bible says, “The scarlet robe probably refers to a military garment which had the color of royal purple, and thus resembled a king’s robe.”  Apparently the color is a cross between scarlet and purple, which means the description is the best the writer could describe it.  If anything, the color descriptions are complimentary, not contradictory.

Contradiction claim #54, What did they give him to drink?

Matt. 27:34  Vinegar 
Mark 15:23  Wine with myrrh
Matthew 27:34 actually says they gave him vinegar “mingled with gall.”  “Gall” refers to something bitter, while Mark identifies it specifically as the narcotic myrrh.  What is translated as “vinegar” in Matthew is actually sour wine, so both passages are saying the same thing.

Contradiction claim #55, Who was at the Empty Tomb?

Matt. 28:1  In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Mark 16:1  And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
None of this is contradictory.  Matthew doesn’t say only Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came; he only reports on these two. Mark mentions both of them (the other Mary being Mary the mother of James), but he also tells us of Salome’s presence with them.  John only mentions Magdalene, but again he does not say she was alone. For some reason Mary Magdalene was of enough importance that all three report her presence.  Could it be because she was the one Jesus freed from demons, and she knew the freedom of that which led her to be a disciple?  Anyway, not reporting all who are present is not contradicting someone who does.

Contradiction claim #56, Whom did they see at the tomb?

Matt. 28:2-5  And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:  And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.  And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
Mark 16:5  And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
Luke 24:4  And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
John 20:12  And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
These are complimentary rather than contradictory.  Each person is telling part of the story.  None say their story is complete in all aspects. This is common among anyone witnessing an event.  Each person gives some of the details and when all put together gives us the complete story.

Contradiction claim #57, Is Jesus equal to or lesser than God?

John 10:30  I and my Father are one.
John 14:28  Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
Jesus and God the Father are one in that they are both one God, part of the trinity.  However, in roles the Father is greater than the Son. Some thoughts about John 14:28:
a.  Revealing the subordinate role Jesus accepted as necessary part of the incarnation.  Must be understood in light of the unity in John 10:30
b.  Speaking at a time when he had done as stated in Philippians 2:6-7.  He became "lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:9).
c.  The Father is greater in that the incarnate son derives his being from Him.  The "greaterness" of the Father means that the revelation of Him manifested in Jesus is full so far as was possible in a human person.
d.  His state with his Father would be much more excellent and glorious than his present state; his returning to his Father would be the advancing of him to a much higher condition than that which he was now in.
e.  The Father is greater by office, but not by nature, since both are God.  Jesus is equal to the Father in essence, in nature, in character.  The Father is greater in function, in office, in position.
f.  The word "greater" is used to point to the Father's greater position (in heaven), not a greater nature. The word used was not "better".

Contradiction claim #58, Did those with Saul/Paul at his conversion hear a voice?

Acts 9:7  And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
Acts 22:9  And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
In Acts 9:7 they heard the sound of the voice, which is what the Greek (tes phones) means, but did not understand the speech. The NIV and other newer translations make this clear.  Acts 22:9 says they did not “hear,” i.e. they did not understand the words of the Lord.  The Greek word for “voice” here is “ten phonen".  Only Paul heard with understanding. As John MacArthur says, “Since Jesus spoke only to Paul, only he understood the Lord’s words.  His companions heard the sound, but could not make out the words.

Contradiction claim #59, Judging?

1 Cor 2:15  The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: (NIV)
1 Cor 4:5  Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
The context of these two passages are about different things. The first text is speaking about spiritual discernment in regards to teaching.  The second text is in regards to them judging Paul compared to other so-called apostles, and he is saying they are not to judge the heart.  Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us not to judge at all, on the contrary, there are many passages that tell us to judge righteously.

Contradiction claim #60, Who bears guilt?

Gal. 6:2  Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Gal. 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
This is intentionally removing the context.  It is quite easy to see the difference just by reading the passage of Gal. 6:1-5.  In the first passage the context is helping others with leaving their sins behind.  That’s the burdens we bear. The second passage is about doing our own work and testing our own actions and not comparing ourselves to others.  It has nothing to do with bearing guilt.

In this series I’ve addressed 60 claims of contradictions in the Bible.  I have come across a lot more, of course, but these are the ones I’ve most frequently seen, and were the ones provided me by the college student requesting responses.  I hope my readers have found this useful.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:
A very good analysis of the Jehovah’s Witness’ erroneous reading of John 17:3. 

Things to know about the formation of our Bible.

How patriarchy saved her from feminism.

The Bad:
This short video is really sort of funny, because it demonstrates the intellectual schizophrenia of the Catholic Church — be sure to read the statement at the end because it really sums up the problem.  This is just more proof that the Pope does NOT represent Christ in any way, shape, or form.

I am one of the “wolf hunters” who alert the sheep to wolves like Michael Brown.

The Seventh-day Adventist book Steps to Christ, by E.G. White, is a false gospel.

Another solid alert about false teacher Lisa Bevere.

And then don’t forget false teacher Shawn Bolz.

A whole caboodle of false prophets will tell you what the Lord has said is in store for 2017.  The sad thing is that too many Christians listen to these lies.

Watch out for the “Orange Strategy” Sunday School curriculum.  Bad news!  This article also has lots of links to Andy Stanley stuff.

The lies told by the likes of Sid Roth and Jeff Jansen.

Yoga and Christianity are NOT compatible.

The Ugly:
Visions Beyond Fatima — evidence that such visions are demonic in nature.

The Word of Faith heresy cult continues to prove just how awful it is.

More on the horrid teachings of Mike and Debi Pearl.  Marital abuse gets a pass.

Willam Paul Young’s Christless “Shack.”

That’s it for today. I hope to have my last episode on “Bible ‘Contradictions’” posted tomorrow.