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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Real Spiritual Warfare

I have read a lot by Hank Hanegraaff over the years and a lot of it is good apologetics material. However, I must also point out his approval of Roman Catholicism and his preterist eschatology , both of which I believe are unbiblical. While I think his first volume of The Bible Answer Book was very good except for a few minor points, his second volume is not as good due to his eschatology.

All this being said as a prelude, I want to recommend another small book of Hank’s that I first bought six years ago and continue to buy for giving out. The title of the book is, The Covering, and the theme is proper, biblical spiritual warfare. The purpose is to counter the unbiblical stuff that has been taught for the past couple of decades especially. This book has only 124 pages in a 5” X 7” format.

In his introduction, Hank tells us that “the Puritan passion for exercising spiritual disciplines in order to become like Christ has given way to the quick fix of exorcising demons.” He then gives examples of those who are practicing this superstitious, Hollywood-type of “deliverance,” such as Bob Larson, Don Basham, Derek Prince and Neil Anderson.

Hanegraaff gives a good quote from anthropologist Michael Cuneo: “Whatever one’s personal problem - depression, anxiety, substance addiction, or even a runaway sexual appetite - there are exorcism ministries available today that will happily claim expertise for dealing with it. With the significant bonus, moreover, that one is not, for the most part, held personally responsible for the problem. Indwelling demons are mainly to blame, and getting rid of them is the key to moral and psychological redemption.” That is a good summation of the problem.

Hanegraaff points out that, “Subjective experiences are notoriously unreliable. Thus, they must always be tested in light of the objective truths of Scripture. … Sexual spirits, devils that bite, and faddish formulas for freedom are but the fleeting fancy of pop culture and pagan superstition.”

In Chapter one Hank reminds us that, “in order for demons to possess believers, they would first have to bind the one who occupies them - namely God himself!” And that, of course, is impossible. He says that, “the notion that a demon can bite, scrawl on a fogged-up bathroom mirror, or sexually violate a human being has more in common with Greek mythology than a Christian worldview.”

The remainder of the book is an exposition of Ephesians 6:12-18. The following quotes are some highlights:

“Spiritual warfare is waged against invisible beings that personify the extremities of evil. And their weapons are spiritual, not physical. While they cannot bite us physically, violate us sexually, or cause us to levitate, they can tempt us to cheat, steal, and lie. …though the devil cannot directly interact with us physically, he does have access to our minds. He cannot read our minds, but he can influence our thoughts. … the whole of Scripture informs us that spiritual warfare is the battle for the mind.”

“To neglect discipleship and spiritual disciplines for deliverance and sensual distractions is to give birth to an unholy church. … Unless and until a convert becomes a slave to righteousness, there is no need for the forces of darkness to be alarmed.”

“In all the ways Satan sought to pillage Job, he never petitioned God to possess his body.”

“Following the example of the Bereans (see Acts 17:11), we must make sure that what human teachers teach is in line with what Scripture has already taught.”

“The key to supernatural protection in the invisible war is not found in exorcising demons, but in exercising spiritual disciplines. Ultimately, only as we ‘put on the full armor of God’ can we take our ‘stand against the devil’s schemes’ (Ephesians 6:11).”

I found this book to be very enlightening, and an excellent resource to counter those who are deceiving believers with “deliverance” ministries.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Conservative Bible?

Here we go again with another new Bible version. This time a group called "Conservapedia" has decided that "Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations," and therefore they have established the "Conservative Bible Project."

All one has to do is take a look at their site (http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project) and immediately see there is nothing about conserving anything in this project, except, of course, their own bias. Like all other groups with an agenda, what they want to do to the Bible certainly violates all of God's warnings against doing such abominations.

Here are some of their guidelines for translation:

"Utilize powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; defective translations use the word 'comrade' three times as often as 'volunteer'; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as 'word,' 'peace,' and 'miracle.'" I'd say there is some real subjectivism here! I didn't know words were conservative or liberal in and of themselves - I thought it was how you used the words!

"Combat harmful addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as 'gamble' rather than 'cast lots'; using modern political terms, such as 'register' rather than 'enroll' for the census." Casting lots wasn't always gambling; in Acts 1 it was the method used to select a replacement for Judas. But will it really do anything to combat addiction to call it gambling? And how does using "register" instead of "enroll" for the census combat addiction?

"Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story." I'm trying to figure out by what criteria they use to decide if something is a "liberal passage." And just how is the story of the adulteress a liberal story - because Christ forgave the woman?!?

"Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels." How do they determine that Mark and John were "youngsters," and how were they any more "open-minded" than Matthew, Luke or even Paul?
Much of what I read on their site seems to point them out as being sort of KJV-only oriented, even though they want to do a new version based on the KJV.

Two of the benefits they claim are amusing:

"benefiting from activity that no public school would ever allow; a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses" Public school courses using a Bible?

"liberals will oppose this effort, but they will have to read the Bible to criticize this, and that will open their minds." Let's see, the liberals read the Bible now in order to criticize it, and if their minds aren't open now they certainly won't be open to the truth by reading a mangled version.

In their "Possible Approaches," the CBP wants to replace "pro-liberal terms" such as "government" (I didn't know this word was "pro-liberal"!) and "identify terms that have lost their original meaning" (normally a good thing if we're talking about updating the English of 1611). But in the last realm they mention "word" as in the beginning of the gospel of John, and want it replaced by "truth." So, "In the beginning was the Word...." would have to be "In the Beginning was the Truth," which changes the entire context.

As you read further on the site, you discover they think that Luke 23:34, where Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing," is a liberal addition! They make this claim by saying "some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing."

Well, that should give you a general idea of what this group wants to do. The “Conservative Bible Project” certainly isn’t by true conservatives. A conservative is one who is opposed to change, especially if it’s for novelties or fads, which this plainly is. The dictionary also says a conservative is that which has the power to preserve from harm.

This group is doing the same thing cults and those with an agenda do: making the Bible say what they want it to say by cutting out what they don’t like and adding words to fit their bias, thereby bringing harm to the original message. They are deceivers who do not represent the true Christian faith. But beware: “Every word of God is flawless; ... Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (Prov. 30:5, 6)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What About the United Methodist Church?

The commentary I posted yesterday told of clergy from several denominations getting together in a letter to congressmen to ask for government funding of abortion. They called abortion “morally justifiable.” Of the denominations listed, I have addressed a few, but now I want to address the United Methodist Church.

UMC has a pretty solid doctrine theologically, but there are some problems with their social statements (of course, a biblical worldview should eliminate problems in this area, too). I looked at their official web page and immediately found a couple items of concern. It would be interesting to read their entire Book of Discipline, but I don’t have immediate access to it or time to read it. Anyway, one of the quotes from their web page is this:

“We recognize the tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion and urge prayerful consideration by all parties involved.”

This explains why members of UMC clergy could sign that statement. I would really like to know how abortion, the murder of an unborn child, can be justified in any sense. As a matter of fact, the UMC has supported the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an abortion rights group.

“We endorse the United Nations and commend all who pursue world peace through law.”

Whew! A Christian organization endorsing the United Nations?!?!? That organization is corrupt and supports too much evil in the world, including same-sex unions and abortion, let alone the support of the so-called Palestinians over Israel. They do virtually nothing for the U.S. except stomp on our sovereignty. Ever hear of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child? Totally anti-parent and pro-government nanny. I could go on forever about the evil of the U.N., but I’ll let you go to other sites who do a very good job of exposing them for who they are.

I have been cleaning out my files little by little this summer, and I figured this was as good a time as ever to pull my UMC file. This denomination has a lot of liberal members, and I think one reason is because they permit women to be in leadership roles. That seems to be the thing which leads churches farther down the liberal road. So here are examples from my files about the love affair a large number of UMC clergy are having with homosexuality (remember, the UMC says “homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching”), and other unbiblical ideas by “pastors.” Try to stick with me - it will be one of my longest commentaries.

“The Iowa House’s passage of a bill last week not to recognize same-sex marriages was motivated by fear and intolerance of homosexuals, said the Rev. Marsha Acord of Faith United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids.”   Cedar Rapids Gazette, 2/25/96. No, it was motivated by an attempt to stop the flood of laws approving same-sex marriage. Not to worry Marsha, Iowa is now a same-sex “marriage” friendly state.

The 2/9/97 CRG had a guest column by three UMC members decrying the Iowa Bishop Charles W. Jordan’s urging to provide sanctuary to illegal aliens. Since these people come to the U.S. illegally, while legal aliens wait their turn, this advocacy of violating the law is certainly worthy of discipline.

In April 1997 Faith United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids sponsored and hosted a party to watch the Ellen DeGeneres’ show where her character comes out as a lesbian. They had 80 people there, organized by a church member who just came out as lesbian. To ensure good reception of the two TVs, the church had cable installed. This was reported in the CRG on 5/1/97. So if the UMC is against homosexual behavior, was the leadership of this church disciplined for sanctioning it? This church has a history of being “gay friendly,” and the CRG did a large spread (4/17/04) on how wonderful they were. Of course this church is led by a woman “pastor.” But wouldn’t a real shepherd lead the flock away from sin and not sanction it?

The American Family Association Journal of June 1997 reported that “More than 1,300 ministers from the United Methodist church signed a statement decrying their denomination’s policy which prohibits the ordination of practicing homosexuals and the performance of same-sex rituals. The effort was in support of a similar protest signed by 15 Methodist bishops in April 1996.” So we have over 1300 clergy of the UMC protesting a biblical stance on homosexuality; were any of these clergy members defrocked or disciplined?

World Magazine, 12/20/97, reported that “Trustees of [UMC]-affiliated Emory University in Atlanta recently ruled that same-sex weddings can occur in campus chapels if they involve clergy, faculty, and students from denominations that approve…. Eight UMC bishops are trustees, and the school’s charter places it under the jurisdiction of the denomination…” Did the UMC denomination defrock these bishops? The same article told of a Princeton University UMC chaplain, Sue Ann Morrow, who conducted a “wedding ceremony” for a same-sex couple who were atheists. She said she would do more same-sex “weddings” in the future. Her bishop spoke to her, but the article said he took no action against her. Is this what the UMC says is okay?

Oh, and don’t forget the UMC Rev. Jimmy Creech who performed a same-sex unity ceremony in Omaha. In March 1998, a UMC jury found him not guilty of disobeying church rules. I would think that UMC church rules would include the Bible, which specifically condemns homosexual behavior.

The AFA Journal, 9/98, reported on four UMC ministers from Nebraska who stated the idea of Jesus being the only way of salvation was nothing more than “proof-texting,” and decried the idea that this would exclude Muslims, Jews and Hindus. Were these ministers defrocked for this heresy?

Ah, yes. Here’s an article in the CRG from 4/29/99 about an Iowa UMC bishop who absolved an Iowa minister who participated in a same-sex “wedding” in California. He was absolved because he was only in the processional and shared in a prayer. To me that says he was sanctioning the union, so why was he absolved? There were a total of 90 UMC ministers at that “wedding,” according to CRG on 1/17/99, and according to the AFA Journal 3/99, 70 other UMC ministers “signed on to officiate in abstentia.” Were any of these ministers disciplined? According to the AFA Journal 4/00, the answer is, “No.”

The AFA Journal for March 2000 reported on a statement signed by Vermont clerics, including UMC bishops, which said same-sex “marriage” should be permitted. Were these bishops disciplined?

An October 2003 article in O Timothy magazine reported on Ted Jennings, a UMC minister who wrote a book about Jesus being a homosexual. As of the article, he had not been disciplined by the UMC. Did the UMC excommunicate this heretic?

AgapePress, 2/20/04, reported on UMC minister Emanuel Cleaver II who performed same-sex ceremonies and who got special rights for homosexuals as mayor of Kansas City, MO. Why was he not defrocked?

On 3/11/04, AgapePress reported on the UMC minister who hired on as Planned Parenthood’s chaplain to communicate “the theological justification for choice, sexuality, and contraception.” This “pastor” had previously written that Jesus would support abortion. Was this man defrocked for such blatant blasphemy? Just where does one find a “theological justification” for abortion and sexual immorality?

How about this one from AgapePress, 6/15/04? The UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry sponsored a student forum at UMC-affiliated Hendrix College, where pro-homosexual measures were discussed and rainbow-colored communion bread was served. The same day AgapePress also reported on a UMC bishop appointing an openly homosexual woman as a pastor in Seattle. She claims her homosexuality is a gift of God.

An article from AgapePress, dated 7/1/04, discusses the UMC General Conference. There they proclaimed the openly lesbian Pastor Karen Dammann still “a pastor in good standing” since in March she was acquitted of violating UMC ban on the ordination of practicing homosexuals. But if “homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching,” how can she be in “good standing?” In March she “married” her lesbian lover, and claimed that God called her to the ministry and God doesn’t make mistakes. Anyway, rather than discuss theological issues and evangelism, the conference spent a lot of time on resolutions for slavery reparations (let’s punish people who had nothing to do with slavery because someone’s ancestors over 150 years ago had slaves, and let’s give the money to people who may not even have been related to those slaves, and let’s forget that it was the Africans themselves that sold the slaves) and other politically-correct silliness. The author of the article reported on bishop Joe Sprague, who claims there is no need to evangelize Muslims and Jews - a heretical idea. Why was he still a bishop in the UMC with that teaching?

Another AgapePress release on 7/22/04 brings up Bishop Joe Sprague’s name again, because he retired. The Fundamental Baptist Information Service reported on the same event 7/30/04. It seems Sprague not only denied that Jesus is the only way of salvation, but he also denied the eternal deity of Christ, his virgin birth, miracles, blood atonement, and his bodily resurrection. With all these heretical beliefs, how can he call himself a Christian, and why did the UMC allow him to be a bishop? Heresy charges were brought against him in 2003 but were dropped - why? He retired from “effective” or “active” leadership, but still stayed in the ministry preaching and teaching. Why did the UMC allow this blatant heretic to have any part of ministry? The bishop who replaced Sprague is a liberal who is against the UMC’s stance on homosexuality.

On 12/2/04, a UMC clergy jury did the right thing and defrocked another avowed, practicing lesbian minister, Elizabeth Stroud, in Pennsylvania. But on 4/29/05 the UMC regional appeals court reversed the decision. It seems the UMC rules don’t describe what is meant by homosexual behavior.

A Labor Day 2005 weekend conference organized by a pro-homosexual UMC group was held at the official retreat for the Southeast Jurisdiction of the UMC. Why would the UMC allow this conference to take place there?

AgapePress report on 11/7/05 told of the leadership of UMC declaring “that the sin of homosexuality is not to be a barrier to membership in its churches.” I wonder if adultery would be?

Another AgapePress report, 7/5/06, tells of the Louisiana Methodists rejecting a proposal which “would have required members of the church to renounce racism, adultery, and both heterosexual and homosexual sex outside of marriage.” I guess renouncing those sorts of sins is a scary proposition!

This one isn’t about homosexuality or abortion: OneNewsNow, 7/30/07, reported that the United Methodist Committee on Relief “announced a partnership with Muslim Aid,” a group “very clear about its Islamic mission.” Didn’t Paul say something about not joining with unbelievers?

My last article in the file is from OneNewsNow, 11/14/08, and tells of a lesbian being ordained in a UMC in Baltimore. The UMC officials said it was an unauthorized ordination, but my bet is that they didn’t do anything about it.

Okay, I know this was a long, long commentary with lots of boring stuff about the UMC and homosexuality. The church officially is against homosexual behavior, yet history shows they really give it tacit approval. And the UMC officially sanctions abortion that is “justifiable.” Just those two issues brings the UMC in companionship with the ELCA, the Episcopal Church, the PCUSA, and the UCC. A common denominator is women in the pulpit, which I believe demonstrates the connection between this violation of Scripture and the apostasy of sanctioning abortion and homosexuality that follows.

John Wesley is spinning in his grave.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The United Church of Christ - A Love Affair With the World

From LifeNews.com (10/2/09) is the following:
A coalition of mainline Protestant church clergy have authored a letter to members of Congress asking them to make certain health care bills they are considering contain taxpayer funding for abortions. … The letter calls abortion a “morally justifiable decision.” … The denominations endorsing the letter include the American Baptist Churches, Church of the Brethren, Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church, and others.

 How can anyone claiming the name of Christ believe abortion is a “morally justifiable decision?” By whose moral standards - the worlds? Certainly not God’s because God says murder is a serious sin!

Well, of this line up I have already pointed out the apostasy of ELCA, and the PCUSA, but this time I think I’ll focus on the apostate United Church of Christ denomination.

The UCC is one of the most liberal of the denominations. All one has to do is look at Jeremiah Wright as an example of the pastors in this church; he preaches Black Liberation Theology, which is very cultic in its own right. But look at some concrete examples of the UCC’s apostasy.

One of my favorites is the UCC’s New Century Hymnal, issued in 1995. They didn’t like the old, theologically-correct hymns because they weren’t politically-correct enough. So some changes just had to be made. As reported in a 6/15/96 AP story in the Cedar Rapids, IA, Gazette, there were some really disgusting changes, such as Faith of Our Fathers became Faith of the Martyrs (removed that patriarchal tone). In Silent Night we can’t have “Son of God” because that is sexist. (But wasn’t Jesus a male?)

“Even the ‘right hand of God’ is sometimes changed to the ‘mighty’ or ‘strong’ hand of God - lest left-handed people be offended. … And ‘Just As I Am,’ minus a reference to ‘poor, wretched, blind.’”

A pernicious change is to America the Beautiful. How dare we have a song praising the United States - it hurts the self-esteem of those living in other countries in the Americas. No longer will UCC sing “O Beautiful, for spacious skies” because it is more politically-correct to sing “How Beautiful, our spacious skies” as they sing of all the Americas. Do you remember the last stanza of the original? “O beautiful for patriot dreams that sees beyond the years; thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.” Well, in the New Century Hymnal the final stanza is thus: “How beautiful, two continents, and islands in the sea, that dream of peace, non-violence, all people living free. Americas! Americas! God grant that we may be, a hemisphere where people here all live in harmony.” I think I’m feeling ill.

Anyway, the UCC has permitted the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals since 1972, and as of a Gazette article in 2000, “more than 150 openly gay and lesbian clergy have been ordained in the UCC.” The article also pointed out that the UCC leaves the decision to officiate at a same-sex “marriage” up to the local pastor. By 2005, however, the UCC openly endorsed and encouraged same-sex “marriage” as being a matter of “Equal Marriage Rights For All” (the title of a resolution adopted at the 25th General Synod), and called upon members to work against laws which ban same-sex “marriage.”

The UCC has for decades now condoned and promoted homosexual behavior, contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture which condemns it in no uncertain terms. As a denomination they teach what is commonly known as the “social gospel” - a socialistic abomination - rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They promote political-correctness to the point of marginalizing the differences between male and female. They promote the society-destroying idea of same-sex “marriage,” and they teach abortion as being “morally justifiable.”

The United Church of Christ is an apostate denomination. They seek to be friends with the world, and we all know that, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” If you are a true Christian and a member of the UCC, my question is - WHY?