Monday, February 8, 2016
No man gets instruction from that which tends to destruction. No man receives illumination from a quarter where all is darkness. Let our “seeking,” therefore be in that which is our own, and from those who are our own, and concerning that which is our own,—that, and only that, which can become an object of inquiry without impairing the rule of faith.
Tertullian, “On Prescription Against Heretics,” Chapter XII
Sunday, February 7, 2016
The Lord teaches us that many “ravening wolves shall come in sheep’s clothing.” Now, what are these sheep’s clothing’s, but the external surface of the Christian profession? Who are the ravening wolves but those deceitful senses and spirits which are lurking within to waste the flock of Christ? Who are the false prophets but deceptive predictors of the future? Who are the false apostles but the preachers of a spurious gospel? Who also are the Antichrists, both now and evermore, but the men who rebel against Christ? Heresies, at the present time, will no less rend the church by their perversion of doctrine, than will Antichrist persecute her at that day by the cruelty of his attacks, except that persecution make seven martyrs, (but) heresy only apostates. And therefore “heresies must needs be in order that they which are approved might be made manifest, both those who remained stedfast under persecution, and those who did not wander out of their way into heresy.”
Tertullian, “On Prescription Against Heretics,” Chapter IV
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Friday, February 5, 2016
The reason for so much of the conflict throughout the church at the present time is that people are fighting over their opinions. It is not a matter of opinion, yours or mine. It is what God says that matters. The basis for our thinking should be the principles from His Word. They must determine our actions. To understand this, we must also appreciate that Genesis is foundational to the entire Christian philosophy. One major difficulty in our churches is that many people do not trust Genesis. Consequently, they do not know what else in the Bible to trust. They treat the Bible as an interesting book containing some vague sort of religious truth. This view is destroying the church and our society. and it is time religious leaders wake up to the fact. Not to take Genesis 1 through 11 literally is to do violence to the rest of Scripture.
Ken Ham, “The Lie,” pg. 53
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Todd Friel exposes a lot about false teachings in charismatic churches, Bethel Redding, IHOP, Jesus Culture, et al. The sad thing about this article/video is the comment section with comments by all sorts of people lacking discernment and attacking Todd for exposing this junk — often with ad hominem attacks. Many of these commenters sound like cult members.
“Churches” are getting more and more bizarre every day.
The cult of homosexuality is invading so many churches, and so many Christians have been brainwashed into the idea of “acceptance,” that too many people have never really been told the truth about what God says about homosexuality. I wrote an article five years ago in which I demonstrated conclusively from Scripture that homosexual behavior is NEVER acceptable to God. Too many Christian leaders, though, are trying to justify this sin when they should be calling for repentance.
More proof of the cultic nature of the Church of Christ.
More proof that Bethel Redding is not a place where the real Faith is celebrated, or the real Christ is worshipped. (Just to make a point from the title of the article, he’s canceling “debts” not “death.”)
Chapter 3 Ministries has part 2 of her review of Beth Moore’s September “Living Proof Live Simulcast.” Along with this, Pirate Christian radio analyzes Moore’s teachings, allowing you to actually hear what Beth is saying — and it isn’t pretty!
A good examination of the charismatic “hedge of protection.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have always had a very bizarre, aberrational, and heretical view of Creation. Their day=epoch teaching, trying to fit in evolution, is totally unbiblical and scientifically untenable.
Rick Joyner is another false teacher — a ravening wolf in sheep’s clothing — who is really, really dangerous! Just look at the spiritual damage to the people of his “church.”
Here’s an example of why C. Peter Wagner is another false prophet wolf.
I finally finished an arduous job of making A Reference Blog post of Links for Latter-day Saints Research. If you are seeking information on Mormons, go here before Googling. Don’t forget — I also have my own blog exposing Mormonism.
Doug Evans has an excellent article about Roman Catholicism and the road to ecumenicism.
Bill Johnson— sigh.
Oh, my! It’s hard to comment on this — a church actually accepted this as a conversion testimony!?!?!?!
If you have not been previously convinced that Steven Furtick is a false teacher, you need to take a look at this evidence.
Pastors, protect the women in your congregation.
Fred Butler continues his review of Which Bible Would Jesus Use?
You shall know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16, an abused Scripture.
Joel Osteen’s “new age” teachings are in line with many others who seem to think they are God.
Lastly, the Watchman Fellowship has a new profile out on Tibetan Buddhism.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Monday, February 1, 2016
Due to a request by two of my readers I am posting this history of the Church of Christ. I wrote this as a section of an introductory apologetics course for home-school high schoolers. I previously posted, also from this section, an article about the cultic doctrines of the Church of Christ. This history is, by necessity of brevity, not an in-depth examination. I hope you find it interesting as well as informative. (One bit of editing from my course is my usual tradition on this blog of using blue for quotations so as to bring attention to them as not being my writing.)
Another group emerging from the restoration movement of the early 1800s, and in fact considered a central core of the movement, were the churches established by Barton Stone, Walter Scott, and Thomas and Alexander Campbell. As a matter of fact, in the same way Calvinist churches have claimed the title of being “Reformed” churches, even though other groups were involved in the Reformation, the Stone-Campbell-Scott churches of today claim the title of being “Restoration” churches for themselves, even though other churches came out of that movement. (This group should not be confused with the United Church of Christ, which originated as a merger of four other groups in the 20th century - and is now one of the most liberal church denominations.)
Stone, Scott and the Campbells started individual movements which merged based on their common beliefs. “The major development of this movement occurred between 1823 and the deaths of its founders (Barton Stone, 1844; Walter Scott, 1861; and Alexander Campbell, 1866).” (Craig Branch, “The Stone-Campbell-Scott Movement,” Areopagus Journal, Vol. 9, No.5, p.9) As with the LDS and SDA, the premise of this movement was that the church was in total apostasy and needed restoration.
“A common name for the members of these churches used by detractors is ‘Campbellites.’ Criticism from evangelicals regarding most of these churches is certainly justified because they have perpetuated a ‘different gospel’ (Gal. 1:6-9) and numerous other heresies. Among their errors is their belief that all other churches, even evangelicals, are false or apostate.” (Branch, p. 9)
The movement got its start with Barton Stone, a Presbyterian minister who struggled with Calvinist doctrines and with the doctrine of the Trinity. He was ordained in 1798, and in 1801 traveled to Cane Ridge, KY to witness a revival, and where he participated with Baptists and Methodists. That August, after spending the previous two months organizing revivals, Stone held what was later called the “Cane Ridge Meeting,” which supposedly claimed thousands of conversions.
Stone left the Presbytery in 1803, and was later baptized by immersion “for the forgiveness of sins.” “He led a group of Presbyterians out of their denomination to pursue the ideal of being ‘Christians only.’ This idea appealed to many in other churches and a movement began.” (Branch, p. 10-11)
A few years later Thomas Campbell, also a Presbyterian minister, came to Pennsylvania from Ireland and preached the unity of all Christians. His son Alexander soon joined him and ended up being an itinerant preacher in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. The Campbells said to do away with the early church creeds and have nothing in the church older than the New Testament. Since infant baptism was one of the things added to the church, the Campbells were re-baptized by immersion in 1812.
The Campbells met with Stone in 1824 and they learned each other had the same general ideas of doctrine. In 1831 most of Stone’s followers joined the Campbellites.
Walter Scott was also raised as a Presbyterian, “but upon arriving in New York from Scotland, he became influenced by George Forrester.” (Branch, p.11) Forrester was among a Scottish group seeking to “restore” the New Testament church. In 1821, Scott “came to believe that baptism was not merely an ordinance or ritual, but a decision of the penitent to release God to wash away our sins - a formal remission.” (Branch, p.11)
The Campbells met with Scott in 1821. Five years later Scott attended a Campbellite meeting, and the following year the Campbells asked Scott to be their evangelist. Scott’s preaching eventually brought in more than 3000 converts over the next few years.
The Campbellites adopted the name “Disciples of Christ” for their congregation. Stone’s group were known as “Christians,” or “Christian Church.” The two merging groups, Campbells’ and Stone’s, used either name for their churches. In 1832 Scott’s group joined both the Campbellite and Stone communities, although about half of Stone’s group didn’t agree with Campbellite teachings on baptismal regeneration and did not join with them.
The Campbells desired to see a unity of the various denominations based around the Scripture, and to eliminate all man-made creeds. Their motto was, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.”
An early cause of division was the doctrine of the Trinity. Barton Stone determined the doctrine was man-made, and that the Holy Spirit was “the power of force of God.” “This legacy has had an impact on many Churches of Christ today. It is not unusual to encounter members who basically hold a view that the Holy Spirit and the Bible are inseparably linked. The only time the Holy Spirit is present is when the Bible is opened and read. It is almost like a genie in the bottle. When the Bible is closed, the Holy Spirit returns to the Bible.” (Branch, p.12)
The influence of “higher criticism” and other liberal teachings affected the “Restoration” churches in the same way it affected other Protestant churches, causing division among the assemblies. The more liberal group wanted to use instrumental music in worship and allow missionary societies, and were subscribing to theistic evolution, among other issues. In 1906 the conservative dissenters formed the “Churches of Christ,” while the “progressives” became known as “Disciples of Christ.”
The Disciples began emphasizing denominational authority over local autonomy, and became increasingly liberal in their theology and practice, so in 1927 the more conservative members of the Disciples separated to form the North American Christian Convention, a separate fellowship of Churches of Christ and Christian Churches. “The new convention was not to be a policy-making assembly that had authority over the local churches, but rather was a gathering for preaching, teaching, and good fellowship. The new convention took a strong stand against all forms of liberalism and sought to defend fundamentalist beliefs.” (Ron Rhodes, The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations, p. 119)
The Disciples of Christ organized in 1968 as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). While still holding to some of the legalistic teachings of the Restoration movement, the Disciples are more orthodox, albeit with some liberal understandings of Scripture and Christ, and we will follow them no further.
The current churches continuing the Stone-Campbell-Scott “Restoration Movement” usually go by the names “Christian Church” or “Church of Christ.” This can be confusing because the Churches of Christ which formed in 1906 is not the same as the North American Convention branch known as Churches of Christ and Christian Churches. The Churches of Christ of the 1906 separation have no conventions, no denomination headquarters, no conferences, etc. Nevertheless, the ancestry of both groups is the same prior to 1906, with few differences in doctrine, and since 2006 there has been a move to reunite these two groups. Our main focus in this section, however, is only on the Church of Christ.
A significant split is the International Church of Christ, which is a cult sect. This sect originated with Chuck Lucas, pastor of the Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville, FL in 1967. Lucas saw that aggressive evangelistic groups like Campus Crusade, and discipleship groups like the Navigators, had great success, so he combined the ideas of both with the legalistic practices of the Church of Christ and his church began to grow. “One of Lucas’s leaders was Kip McKean… In 1975 McKean and his wife, Elena, moved to a suburb of Boston and began a very aggressive and demanding program. It was named the Boston Church of Christ. The traditional Church of Christ legalism coupled with the high demand, close accountability structure and use of guilt and manipulation, produced an abusive, mind and life controlling cult. After its first ten years of existence, the Boston Church of Christ with its church plants and world missions numbered 25,000 members. Their primary focus was on college campuses.” (Branch, p. 13) Since most of the traditional Churches of Christ condemned McKean and his movement, McKean broke off association with them in 1993 and changed the name of his group to the International Church of Christ. This cult itself has broken into factions and McKean left the leadership of the original group in 2001 only to later start up another group in California under the same name in 2007. Since this cult group is not recognized by the Churches of Christ, we will not study this group any further.
A current description of the Churches of Christ is this one found on the Internet: “Following the plan of organization found in the New Testament, churches of Christ are autonomous. Their common faith in the Bible and adherence to its teachings are the chief ties which bind them together. There is no central headquarters of the church, and no organization superior to the elders of each local congregation. Congregations do cooperate voluntarily in supporting the orphans and the aged, in preaching the gospel in new fields, and in other similar works. Members of the church of Christ conduct forty colleges and secondary schools, as well as seventy-five orphanages and homes for the aged. There are approximately 40 magazines and other periodicals published by individual members of the church. A nationwide radio and television program, known as "The Herald of Truth" is sponsored by the Highland Avenue church in Abilene, Texas. Much of its annual budget of $1,200,000 is contributed on a free-will basis by other churches of Christ. The radio program is currently heard on more than 800 radio stations, while the television program is now appearing on more than 150 stations. Another extensive radio effort known as "World Radio" owns a network of 28 stations in Brazil alone, and is operating effectively in the United States and a number of other foreign countries, and is being produced in 14 languages. An extensive advertising program in leading national magazines began in November 1955.” (Batsell Barrett Baxter, Who are the churches of Christ and what do they believe in? )
Craig Branch sums up the problem with the Churches of Christ: “The various Stone-Campbell-Scott Movement churches (denominations) exist all over the U.S. and in many foreign countries, with members totaling between three and four million. A large majority of these members have embraced a false, legalistic gospel and are deceiving many others. Fortunately, there have been some positive developments in recent years including the recent conversion of some Churches of Christ into the evangelical mainstream… Also there is a group of Restoration Movement pastors and teachers at their numerous Bible colleges who have recently formed a subgroup within the Evangelical Theological Society and continue to interact with evangelical scholars.” (p.10)
Sunday, January 31, 2016
One of the problems with so many apologetics ministries is the propensity to nit-pick every little detail of someone’s teachings, or lifestyle, or productions. I have been a wee bit guilty of this myself at times and when I notice it in my older articles I delete them for that cause — or at least clean out the nit-picking part.
There is no such thing as a perfect Bible teacher, be it a pastor or layperson; everyone — and that includes me — has made some type of error sometime in their teachings. I know I have changed some of my beliefs over the years as I have done more studying of the Word or have received correction/counsel from godly men. If we nit-pick people for every thing they do or say wrongly, then we will have no one who isn’t guilty!
This is true of movies. There are no perfect movies; they all have some sort of problem, even if it is just a story line which doesn’t make sense or poor direction. Some have technical errors, some have historical or social errors, and even some theological errors. If we criticize movies for minor errors then we may as well not watch any of them! I understand that we expect higher standards for Christian movies, but these producers are also sinful humans.
Now, I’ve read too many reviews of “War Room” and decided that if I watched the movie I would just be irritated the whole time. I expected to see lots of Beth Moore, lots of contemplative prayer, lots of aberrant spiritual warfare, etc. However, my wife decided she wanted to rent the movie so she could be able to discuss it with her Bible study group. As “luck” would have it, we got called by Family Video a few days ago to tell us we won the drawing to get a new movie rent free and two weeks of 1/2 price movies (we have rented about a dozen movies there in the past 2-3 years), so we decided to get War Room and watched it last night (30 Jan). It certainly wasn’t what I expected from all the nit-picking criticism I’ve read.
Before I give you my commentary (not a “review) on the movie, let me make a few general statements about the Kendrick Brothers’ movies:
1. Every prayer is answered just as requested and in very short times (as in this movie Elizabeth prays for her husband to fail in his adultery attempt and he immediately gets sick). Nothing ever goes wrong; no one ever gets a “no” answer to their prayers. I understand this is movie-making and story-telling and that the idea is to promote the faith and not bring in any possible negatives, no downers to the story, etc, but it gets rather annoying to me to see all the perfect answers to prayer when in my own life we have been waiting for years for prayers to be answered in the affirmative, and we know many families with similar issues! I think it is a wrong-headed teaching to say God answers every prayer the way we want it answered and He doesn’t take long with it! (They almost make God into a personal genie!)
2. Some important issues in their story lines are often left unaddressed (for example the emotional adultery and other disrespectful behavior of the wife in “Fireproof”) while they focus on the main topic. This leaves some “unfinished business” which can be distracting from the point of the movie.
3. In “Courageous” they began bringing in aberrant teachings when they promoted the patriarchy ideology. While it was a very small part of the story, it opened up a problematic ideology for leading people astray.
4. The marketing leads to items for sale promoting the various ideologies in the last three movies. This strategy is just like Hollywood.
Okay, now for my commentary on the movie itself, starting with my negatives.
Right at the top of my list is their use of Beth Moore as an actress. Beth Moore is a false teacher (much worse than Priscilla Shirer), and this movie gave her such a personal promotion (albeit in only two cameo scenes) that she is bound to gather more followers.
As with the other Kendrick movies, War Room had a very contrived story to make its point. I think this movie was more contrived than the others, making it more difficult to accept as a real situation. That’s just the way I saw it.
I think the idea of going to war with prayer is aberrant, and I believe it comes from the whole aberrant spiritual warfare ideology. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we are warring with our prayers. I would really like to know where the term “prayer warriors” began — it never is found in Scripture!
The “prayer closet” teaching is really an abuse of Matthew 6:6. Jesus was not saying we needed a private room; what he was teaching was that we are not to be out “on the street corners” so as to be seen as holy and righteous and “show-offy.” Our private “inner room” could be in the middle of the house all alone, or it could be in an open field, or even in a bedroom while everyone else in the house is elsewhere. The movie made the necessity of a private “prayer closet” (“war room”) virtually indispensable.
Toward the end of the movie, when a couple was looking at Clara’s house, the pastor could feel that Clara’s closet was a “prayer closet” — he said that the prayers were “baked in.” This is superstitious nonsense; no one is able to discern where people were praying just by “feeling” something.
The continual joking about Elizabeth’s stinky feet was very, very irritating to me. The movie’s “har har” about stinky feet was, to me, at the same level as Hollywood’s use of scatology. There was absolutely no reason for that story line — or the scene with her having bad breath! It was a juvenile attempt at humor.
Clara telling the crook to put his knife down “in the name of Jesus” is totally absurd. Nowhere are we to find in the Bible that using Jesus’ name will force bad guys to be unable to harm us. I think this was a very dangerous scene, as many non-discerning people may think they can just use “in the name of Jesus” if they are ever assaulted and the assault will not happen. I think it was irresponsible for the writers to put in that scene.
The teaching of Clara was that Satan is directly responsible for all the sins and all the problems between Elizabeth and her husband. The first problem with this is that Satan is not omni-present! Oh, Satan is responsible for sin coming into the world by his temptation of Eve, and he certainly puts temptations in front of humans with the help of the demonic realm, but he isn’t the cause of our sins. James 1:14-15 says that we are tempted by our own evil desires, dragged away and enticed by them, and the desires once conceived give birth to sin.
One of the worst scenes in the movie was Elizabeth’s railing against Satan, commanding him to leave her house and yard: “I don’t know where you are devil, but I know you can hear me!” Oh, really? Satan is now omniscient? What if he was bothering someone in China at the time? Elizabeth continued, “You are done…Go back to hell where you belong!” Satan will never be “done” tempting man until he is thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). And he doesn’t live in hell! The point is that we are nowhere told to rail at Satan, and Jude 9-10 even teaches against it.
Clara has a similar scene where she says, “Devil, you just got your butt kicked.” I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but Satan got his “butt kicked” by Jesus when He rose from the dead and paid for our sins.
While the movie has Clara being super-spiritual in her prayer life, I didn’t see any hint of contemplative prayer as claimed by some of the reviews, but they did make her knowledge of things to border on the mystical.
Clara had a framed document showing all the answered prayers she’s had; and it appeared that all her prayers are answered. My question was what the purpose was for that document; was it an award to God? was it for bragging? I thought it was something silly, but sure to show up in the “Christian” book stores.
There were many other more minor issues I found irritating, but not important enough to detail.
The end of the movie had a real smell of New Apostolic Reformation/Dominionism to it, especially when 2 Chron. 7:14 flashed on the screen. It really irritates me when Christians take this passage out of context (I addressed this abuse in an article), but it is even more irritating when it is taught in a movie reaching millions of people!!!
Okay, now for the positive. Overall, I think the movie did a good job pointing to the necessity of Bible study and prayer in the lives of Christians. It also showed the necessity for parents to be available for their children and to know what is going on in their children’s lives (it would have been better if they showed Elizabeth give up her job so as to raise her child, and give up their huge mansion!). It also taught that God is active in our lives.
The best review I read about War Room is the one by Fred Butler. He isn’t as nit-picky as others and still remains quite objective with his criticism and praise, and he points out problems I agree with but don't feel like writing about -- especially about Clara!
As with Courageous, I would not recommend this movie to anyone who has little discernment skills; they could easily pick up the wrong ideologies.
As a “P.S.”, the last issue I have with the movie is the DVD version’s “special features.” There were some unbiblical statements made, as well as some Scripture twisting. I expect better than this from a group of pastors. Here are the major problems:
All through the specials there is lots of talk about “soaking” things in prayer and having issues “saturated” with prayer. These are very common charismatic phrases which really need to be put into the ash can. We don’t “soak” or “saturate” anything with prayer, and I think it is a trite analogy.
From “The Heart of War Room”:
From “The Heart of War Room”:
Priscella Shirer said, of prayer, “It’s what opens up the flood gates for God to come down and be involved in our every day circumstances.” Really? Without prayer God can’t be involved in our lives? What happened to His sovereignty? And didn’t he already “come down” as Jesus?
Beth Moore said, “He has us fight, not human flesh and blood, but fight the war that is in the heavenlies. That can only happen on our knees.” Um, I don’t see from scripture where we are to fight a war in the “heavenlies.” And prayer can be done standing, sitting, laying or in any configuration.
From “The Making of War Room”:
“We had no idea that the Mitchell home [Elizabeth’s house in the movie] and everything they went through would really need somebody to pray over that home and rebuke the devil in that scene.” Oh, so a pretend rebuke of the devil in the movie scene acted as a real rebuke of the devil? Again, where are we told in Scripture to rebuke the devil?
From “From Auditioning to Acting”:
Alex Kendrick: “The Lord first gave us the plot in the summer of 2012 and I was on a speaking trip with T.C. Stallings.” Isn’t this a claim to special revelation? Couldn’t this just be from their own imaginations?
T.C. Stallings continued the discussion: “And he says, ‘And for the character, Tony Jordan, T.C., I have you in mind. That’s what… The Lord has put you on my heart.” How can Alex know that dogmatically? Alex had apparently known about T.C. and his talents which fit into the story, so why couldn’t Alex have just came up with the idea?
It’s no wonder the Kendricks like Beth Moore — they use her schtick of claiming revelations from God!
From “The Church On Its Knees”:
They claimed they could feel the Holy Spirit come into the room where they were holding prayer sessions. Just what does this feel like, and how do you know it’s the Holy Spirit?
They pray over doors, seats, entrances, exits, the sanctuary, choir loft, church sections, etc. Where is the biblical warrant for this, and what do they think they are accomplishing praying over these objects?
“There are some things that are not going to happen apart from prayer. It’s not that God can’t, it’s that God has sovereignly chosen to say, ‘If you don’t pray, I’m not going to do it.’” Where do we find this in Scripture? How can he speak for God when Scripture doesn’t say this?
Scripture abuse other than the 2 Chron. passage:
The final frame in “The Church On Its Knees” showed Mark 11:17, And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?” This passage is about the TEMPLE, not about buildings where Christians assemble.
At the end of “Molly Bruno: Modern Day Miss Clara,” Revelation 3:20 was displayed. This is a commonly abuse passage. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” I have previously addressed the abuse of this passage.
Well, there you have it. I think the movie was worthwhile as a reminder to where our priorities should be, but needs some discernment to watch, even though it wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe.
We [Christians], on our part, believe the angels to officiate herein for God. The embryo therefore becomes a human being in the womb from the moment that its form is completed. The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion, inasmuch as there exists already the rudiment of a human being, which has imputed to it even now the condition of life and death, since it is already liable to the issues of both, although, by living still in the mother, it for the most part shares its own state with the mother.
Tertullian, “A Treatise on the Soul,” Chapter 37