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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our Mission as Christians Is....?

Brannon Howse, of Worldview Weekend, has a good article about the new movieMonumental.  I think he has some really good points that all Christians should consider.


Howse posted two citations in the article which I think make the point about what our mission as Christians should be.  Here are the citations from Howse:
Dr. John MacArthur put it well when he wrote:
Society has taken a nosedive into greater and greater evil, debauchery, violence, and corruption, and outside the church, the landscape seems filled with "modern barbarians." The temptation is strong for believers to jump into the cultural fray as self-righteous social/political reformers and condescending moralizers… Our duty as we relate to an increasingly secular and ungodly culture is not to lobby for certain rights, the implementation of a Christian agenda, or the reformation of the government. Rather, God would have us continually to remember Paul's instructions to Titus and live them out as we seek to demonstrate His power and grace that can regenerate sinners. Changing people's hearts one individual at a time is the only way to bring meaningful, lasting change to our communities, our nation, and even the whole world.
Author John Seel compliments the message that I now proclaim after much study of God's Word as well as accurate American history that reveals that many of our Founding Fathers were very hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ including the deity of Jesus Christ:
A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. ... Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America. ... Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity..... American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core. (The Evangelical Pulpit [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993], 106-7)

Monday, February 27, 2012

“People don’t often go heretical all at once....”

“People don’t often go heretical all at once. It is gradual. And they do not do so intentionally most of the time. They slip into it through shoddiness and laziness in handling the word of truth.… All it takes to start the road to heresy is a craving for something new and different, a flashy new idea, along with a little laziness or carelessness or lack of precision in handling the truth of God. All around us today are startling reminders of doctrinal slippage and outright failure. In case after case someone who should have known the truth of God better failed in upholding that truth.”
  • Robert Thomas, Precision as God’s Will for My Life Pamphlet, The Master’s Seminary, 1989.
Hat tip to Sola Sisters

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

The New Age and apostate “Spiritual Formation” movement lead by Richard Foster is invading home-school conferences.  This teaching is insidious - beware.
Henry Blackaby has been on my radar since his spiritually-dangerous book “Experiencing God” came out.  Sola Sisters posted an article about Blackaby’s teachings on hearing audible words from God.  This is the sort of tripe which develops as these false teachers are given popularity by fundamental churches promoting their books in the form of “group studies.”  Where is the discernment among the leaders of these assemblies who allow this stuff in?!?

A major problem which has invaded the Churches over the past decades is the friendship with secular psychology, and syncretizing it with Christian teachings.  This runs rampant with such organizations as “Focus on the Family” and the many so-called “Christian” psychologists especially.  I have done a previous series about the psych field and the harm it has cause society, as well as how it is completely opposed to the Christian worldview.  “the Cripplegate” has an excellent article questioning if psychology is the “67th Book of the Bible.”  Thought-provoking.
Goatherd Ed Young continues to spread more spiritual junk food with his C3 conference and the “seeker-driven” line-up of teachers.  In his past conferences he has included Word of Faith teachers.  He’s a perfect example of a popular preacher who has no discernment.  Oh, and if pastors need to know where to go for fashion advice, Young is there to help you with your vanity.
Great video to watch - John MacArthur rebuking Joel Osteen.  If only every pastor would do so!
More on Moore:  Apprising Ministries has another example of problems with Beth Moore  - she teaches on discernment!  How ironic.  Those with discernment would never listen to her!
Lastly, Janis Hutchinson has part three of “How to Confirm What You Believe.”  Excellent series on discernment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

“Courageous” and the Patriarchy Movement

Back on September 30th I did a report on the movie “Courageous” expressing some concerns about two specific issues in the film and their links to the “patriarchy” and “Quiverfull” movements.

This past week I read two articles about the movie and also about the surrounding teachings of the patriarchy movement which I think everyone should read:
The first one is from an excellent blog which exposes this aberrational movement, Under Much Grace.  I recommend this blog for more education on this subject.
The other article is from the blog, Commandments of Men.  I can’t give hearty approval to this site because the owner is not complementarian in his understanding of roles for women in the church, so discernment is needed, but he does have some good information about these aberrational movements.  (Even more than that, the owner, Lewis, has stated this to me:  "The majority of NT ideas on gender roles come from Paul, not from Christ, so I think any individual, male or female, has to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than literal interpretations of a man's opinion in a male-dominated political/social environment 2000 years ago. Otherwise, Paul's writing just becomes a NT version of law."

The “Patriarchy” and “Quiverfull” movements, including such organizations as Vision Forum, are spiritually abusive and legalistic movements, as well as being a total misrepresentation of proper biblical family relationships.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

I came across lots of interesting things this week, things which I feel all Christians should be aware of so as to protect themselves from various deceptions.
First up, the Pilgrim over at Defending.Condending has a couple of really blasphemous citations from Roman Catholicism.  Did you know that God “bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s command”?!?  Then he has another great post about Romanist idolatry which really, really hits the nail on the head!
Remember from my last report the coronation of Eddie Long, and how he was wrapped in the Torah?  Well I guess there were rumors of another Word of Faith heretic, Paula White, being crowned as a queen, but such an event was denied.  I did find reports of Paula being wrapped in the Torah by false “Rabbi” Ralph Messer; this one byApprising Ministries” and this one atSlaughter of the Sheep.
Along this line of reporting, remember that T.D. Jakes claims now to be a Trinitarian (although describing the Trinity as “manifestations”) and so is to be accepted as an evangelical pastor according to James MacDonald?  Peruse Erin’s report at “Do Not Be Surprised...” to see this nonsense between Mark Driscoll and Jakes.  The problem is that T.D. Jakes is still a WOF heretic.  
Back to Paula White, it seems she is T.D. Jakes’ “spiritual daughter” in the WOF heresy, and as a WOF heretic she should be avoided like the plague!  To demonstrate the connection between White and Jakes, and the luxurious lifestyle these people enjoy while fleecing their followers, White gave Jakes a Bentley convertible.  Of course she drives a Mercedes-Benz and lives in a $2.1 million home, while flying around in a private jet the way all these WOF goatherds do.
So now we have T.D. Jakes connected to Paula White by theology, and Paula White connected to Ralph Messer.  Where do we go from here?  Well, another TBN Word Of Faith heretic, Kenneth Copeland, claims Messer is a prophet of God!

Another example of a WOF heretic is Peter Popoff.  Here is a very interesting news video concerning this charlatan.

All these WOF heretics are cut from the same cloth and yet with the Elephant Room 2 crew we have praise for T.D. Jakes claiming to be a Trinitarian, as if that is the end of his heretical belief system!
Just for people who don’t understand WOF teaching, watch this video posted by Ken Silva.  The audio broadcasts previous to the message about the false teachings, are by various WOF teachers - you might even recognize a voice or two. (While the video is about more than just WOF, the examples of WOF teachings are worth hearing.)  The massive wealth of these WOF teachers should be the very first clue that they are false teachers.
Now, just to round out this section about WOF, and especially about T.D. Jakes, you’ll be happy to know that Jakes’ May 2012 “Leadership Conference” will feature heretic Joel Osteen!  Just verifies the old adage about birds of a feather flocking together.  And yet James MacDonald is wanting Jakes to be accepted as evangelical?!? 
All the liberal, so-called “Christian” leaders support President Obama, yet Obama is clearly a false teacher when it comes to all things biblical.  For one thing, he sat under false teacher Jeremiah Wright for over 20 years learning Black Liberation Theology, as well as the social gospel.  As usual, this past week Mr. Obama again abused Scripture to support his agenda.  Midwest Christian Outreach has a good report on this.
More on the Wycliffe mis-translation problem.  Here is the first update about Wycliffe’s claims.  Yesterday this update was posted.

Pastor John Piper seems to be sliding farther and farther away from solid biblical teaching.  Now he is supporting a contemplative/emerging author, Lauren Winner.  Winner is an ordained “Reverend” with the apostate Episcopal Church (go figure).
It always amazes me to see so much apostasy in the Church today.  While most of it is due to bad teaching, some is like what happens at smaller churches such as this Baptist church in Florida who has a convicted pedophile preacher!!!

An interesting development is the “open letter of repentance” by a lady who taught from Beth Moore and Henry Blackaby.  She is now admitting her error of promoting these false teachers.  Bravo for her.
Well, there are still some solid biblical teachers out there who can provide us with some good thought-provoking messages.  Over at “the Cripplegate,” Nathan Busenitz has an excellent article about the responsibility of Christians when it comes to illegal immigration.

Janis Hutchinson has part two of How to confirm what you believe.  If you missed part one, I recommend your going back to read it.  

Finally, Stan over at Winging It has a provoking article about the “frog in the water” syndrome among Christians.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Did They Really Say That?

?!?
Jesus’ students, not sufficiently advanced fully to understand their Master’s triumph, did not perform many wonderful works, until they saw him after his crucifixion and learned that he had not died.  This convinced them of the truthfulness of all that he had taught. ... Jesus’ unchanged physical condition after what seemed to be death was followed by his exaltation above all material conditions....  [my emphasis]
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.46
Notice how Eddy taught that Jesus did not really die, that he only seemed to die.  How does this square with the continual teaching of Scripture which says Jesus actually died? The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is given by Paul as proof that we also will rise from the dead.  The very foundation of the Gospel, as cited by Paul in 1 Cor. 15, is that “Christ died for our sins.”  If he did not die, then our sins have not been forgiven.
Who do you trust: Mary Baker Eddy or Paul?  Christian Science or the Bible?  I’ll take the Bible and stand on the Word of God vs the lies of Mary Baker Eddy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Christian Obligation

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian church today is to purify and elevated her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him.  We do the greatest service to the next generation by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished the nobel concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian Fathers of generations past.
A.W. Tozer, as cited by Keith Gibson in his article The Apostolic and Prophetic Movement, published in Truth Matters, newsletter of Discernment Ministries International, January 2012

Is Jesus the “Lily of the Valley”?

Yesterday I was looking through some tracts I received and one was about all the names of Jesus.  One of the names was “Lily of the Valley.”
This name comes from the Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon) and the idea that this poetic book refers to the Church and Christ.  In the Song of Songs the phrase refers to the woman in chapter 2, so if the Song is to be taken allegorically, wouldn’t that represent the Church instead of Christ?
The Song of Songs is nothing but a literal love sonnet about two real people.  It is not a figure of Christ and the Church.  My understanding of this figurative way of looking at it, is that it came from Roman Catholicism; but I have also read that Origen taught the allegorical approach and he was a pre-Romanist Christian scholar.   I’ve also read where it has been taken by Jews as an allegory of God’s love for Israel, so perhaps Origen was just making a Christian application of what the Jewish Rabbis already allegorized.
There is much in the Song of Songs which expresses sexual love.  No, I didn’t get this idea from Mark Driscoll and his crude application, rather I have read this from numerous commentators: Christian, Jewish, and secular.  While some commentators tend to see some sexuality, others see a whole lot, but whether you see just a little or a whole lot, the problem remains as to how to apply it to a relationship between Christ and the Church!  
I have read that the Song of Songs was so sexual that young Jewish boys were not permitted to read it until they reached a more mature age.  This prudishness is most likely what lead to the allegorical approach.  But I think that prudishness should not determine how we understand a biblical text - or any text for that matter.
I think we as the Church should drop the reference to Jesus as the “Lily of the Valley.”  I know the song has a nice melody, but the allegorical approach to Scripture doesn’t do it justice.  Besides, if the Church is the bride of Christ, then allegorically the Church should be the “Lily of the Valley.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

Where oh where to begin!  It is really saddening to see the current state of the Church, running rife with such apostasy and heresy, as well as just plain bad teaching.  And yet these things are often so subtle that the average person doesn’t recognized the problems, which is why apologetics ministries are so vital to the health of the church.  These things must be exposed for what they are so that, hopefully, those who are sucked into such teachings will be alerted to leave them.
The big discussion on many apologetics sites this week has been fallout from the happenings at “Elephant Room 2.”  The problem was the invitation of T.D. Jakes to partake, and T.D. Jakes is a well-known Word of Faith teacher and modalist, which is considered heresy.  James MacDonald, who used to be quite fundamental, has defended Jakes, which has caused even more of a stir. Then Voddie Baucham declined an invitation to speak at ER2 because of T.D. Jakes being there. I am going to give you several links on the subject so you can understand exactly what has been happening.  I think this is something Christians should be aware of.
First was the Twitter message by MacDonald extolling the teachings of Jakes.
Pastor Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries posted a commentary in which he includes a “Twitter mini-commentary” by Dr. James White.  Apprising Ministries also has an excellent post demonstrating other problems with T.D. Jakes besides his modalism.
Then we have a thoughtful commentary by Prof. Denny Burke of Boyce College.
Voddie Baucham gives his testimony [link gone by 5/12/14] about his invitation to speak at ER2, and his declining to do so after learning of T.D. Jakes being there, and the ramifications with James MacDonald which followed.  Baucham should be praised for his stance for truth.
In an interview with Dr. James White, Bauchman nails those who are attacking ER2’s critics as being cult-like, and I think he hit the nail on the head!
Finally, today’s “the Cripplegate” blog has a great article summing up much of the events surrounding the ER2 controversy.  If you read just one, make it this one.
On another topic, a few months ago I was asked by a friend to read the book, Pagan Christianity, because he thought it was wonderful.  I did a 10-page review for my friend, demonstrating how rife it was with historical inaccuracies, logic fallacies and poor hermeneutics.  I thought about posting it on this blog, but it was way too long to keep anyone’s interest.  Well, Manfred over at Defending Contending did a review last week which isn’t a whole lot shorter than mine, but covers all the bases quite well.  I highly recommend the article, but I suggest also that no Christian waste their money on the book!
I learned an interesting thing this week about Bill Gothard’s teachings which I never heard before, but apparently is not new.  He is now a proponent of the mystical practice of Lectio Divina.  Not really surprising, considering he teaches a lot of superstitious nonsense and other mysticism.
On a humorous, yet serious note, an ex-Gothardite wrote a good illustration of how legalism affects people.  “A Legalist Goes Shopping” is a must-read.
In the same realm of spiritual abuse as Bill Gothard’s organization, we find Gwen Shamblin’s heretical “Remnant Fellowship.”  You may remember Gwen from the Weigh Down Diet, and workshops which popped up in churches.  Cindy at “Under Much Grace” has a good article comparing the two, as well as exposing Gwen’s false teachings and consequences of following them, especially in regards to raising children.

Speaking of legalistic religious systems, Google is having a devastating effect on the Mormon church.  They’ve never had so many people leaving the church as is happening now, due to people learning the truth about the LDS which the Mormons would rather keep hidden!  This interesting article about the subject comes from the U.K.
Continuing with false and legalistic movements, a movement I had heard of long ago is called “The Way,” founded by a man named William Irvine.  I guess the group itself refuses to publish exactly what it is they teach, so Kathleen Lewis wrote the book, “The Church Without a Name” to expose them for the cult that they are.  I have skimmed over much of the on-line version of this book, and have ordered hard copy.  You may find this group interesting to examine.  A friend pointed me to this site because a relative of his died this week, and was a member.

Shocking news about Wycliffe Bible Translators, who have removed the words “Father” and “Son” and “son of God” from new Bibles so as not to offend Muslims.  Two other publishers, Summer Institute of Linguistics and Frontiers, are also participating in this travesty.  The name of Christ is also offensive around the world -  should we remove it from Scripture?!?!
Benny Hinn’s antics draw thousands of people who have little to no discernment.  He is about as heretical as a teacher can get, and yet he is able to take his theatrics around the world.  Well, now a lady is suing because she was injured after being struck by someone who was “slain in the spirit.”  She is suing the church who hosted the arch-heretic Hinn.  At “the Cripplegate,” Nathan Busenitz reports on this incident, and then takes the opportunity to explain the unbiblical nature of the “slain in the spirit” practice.
The Word of Faith cult gets more bizarre every day.  “Bishop” Eddie Long has been crowned as a king.  A good report by Apprising Ministries includes a video with T.D. Jakes preaching WOF theology, but the video of Eddie Long’s coronation is the one you really have to see.  Where in the world is the discernment with these people attending such performances?!?!
One common practice with all false teachers is what Herescope reports this week: Narcigesis.  It’s a term I can come to like!
Finally, Janis Hutchinson has a really good, short article about “How to Confirm What You Believe.”  A good way to avoid false teachings.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Be a Circle Maker?

Since I buy books from Zondervan for our book table ministry, they will send catalogues and other stuff.  Last month included with the catalogue was a little booklet by Mark Batterson titled, Be A Circle Maker.
I had never heard of this author before but the title bothered me a bit.  I put the booklet in my “to read” pile and left it there until this past Saturday when I took it with me for something to read while my wife was having her drum lesson. (It took less time to read than I thought, and I ended up with time to look at the heresy in the library of the PCUSA church in which we meet!)
There was much that bothered me about this book, not the least of which were the many assertions by Batterson about what God thinks.   The very first paragraph of chapter 2 had this statement:  “God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers.  He is offended by anything less.  If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.”
Oh really? He gave no biblical support for this claim, which sounds much like some Word of Faith nonsense.  How about an example: Let’s say I have a performance where I want to do a really good job; is it impossible for me to do?  No.  So, if I pray that the Lord will help me to relax and concentrate so as to do a good job, is that insulting God?  I don’t see anything in Scripture which makes that claim.
Next we have this on p.20:  “There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayer, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams.  That is who He is.  That is what He does.”  This is a mighty presumptuous statement about knowing the mind of God.  Of course keeping promises is part of the attribute of God in which He cannot lie.  And He may answer prayer with “no.”  
Now, what about “performing miracles” or “fulfilling dreams”?  If God really loved nothing more than these, then why does God not perform miracles for everyone all over the world?  If God really loves nothing more than fulfilling dreams, then why are not all the dreams of His followers fulfilled?  Again, this sounds very much like the claims of the Word of Faith heresy.
Batterson follows this presumption at the bottom of p. 20, continuing to the top of p.21 with: “you are only one prayer away from a dream fulfilled, a promise kept, or a miracle performed.”  Questions: what about those Christians in Somalia dreaming of living in freedom and being out of poverty - do all they have to do is pray about it and then God will fulfill it?  What promise has God made to believers which require a prayer to fulfill? What if no matter how much you pray for a miracle God responds with “No”?  This teaching so reeks of Word of Faith!
As I progressed on page 21, I came across this little gem:  “Prayers are prophecies.”  Wait a minute - Run that pig by me again!  Yep, Batterson says, “Prayers are prophecies.”  Then he follows this with, “Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.”  I wonder where Batterson finds this nonsense in Scripture!?!
Now what is amusing is that on the very next page Batterson says, “God is not a genie in a bottle, and your wish is not His command.”  But didn’t he just say they were prophecies?  Hasn’t he said you are only one prayer from having a dream fulfilled?  Those statements certainly sound to me like he is saying God is a “genie in a bottle.”
Beginning on p.24 Batterson tells us of a “prayer walk” during which he claimed the promise God gave to Joshua about the land the people of Israel were about to inhabit.  He said he felt that, just as God had transferred to Joshua the promise which He had made to Moses, that God would transfer the promise to Batterson if Batterson “had enough faith to circle it.”  Therefore, Batterson took a long prayer walk around an area in Washington, DC, which was “the biggest prayer circle I’ve ever drawn” as he completed the 4.7 mile walk.  And now he has several campuses as part of his church.  (As an aside, he said his feet were sore after that walk - what, the guy isn’t used to walking!??!  Only 4.7 miles and  his feet are sore?!??!)
In Batterson’s end notes on this particular teaching, he states, “Notice that the promise was originally given to Moses.  The promise was transferred to Joshua.  In much the same way, all of God’s promises have been transferred to us via Jesus Christ.”
There is a really big problem with this statement.  First, the promise to Moses was for Israel, and Joshua just inherited the promise for Israel as their new leader.  Secondly, it is extremely poor teaching to say that “all of God’s promises have been transferred to us.”  There are many, many promises in the O.T. which were for specific people, for Israel as a Nation, etc.  Only if a promise was given which would include Christians can we claim the promise for ourselves.  Too often Christians abuse Scripture by claiming a promise for themselves which was never intended that way.  A few perfect examples are the horrible abuses of Jeremiah 29:112 Chronicles 7:14, and 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, all of which I’ve written on.

I think the main idea of this booklet, and the whole “prayer circle” teaching is summed up at the bottom of p.45 to the top of the next page:  “If you’ve never had a God-sized dream that scared you half to death, then you haven’t really come to life.  If you’ve never been overwhelmed by the impossibility of your plans, then your God is too small.  If your vision isn’t perplexingly impossible, then you need to expand the radiuses of your prayer circles.”  I don’t know about you, but I find this claim to be highly presumptuous.
While reading the booklet, I understood the idea of drawing a circle around things for which to pray as being figurative, but then I found this video while searching the ‘net to find information about Batterson.  In this video, he says “If you draw the circle, God will multiply the miracles in your life.”  So Batterson has decided that by drawing a circle around whatever it is you are praying for, then God will “multiply miracles in your life” - the “genie in the bottle” which Batterson decries!  Batterson does draw literal circles on the ground.  Then he contradicts himself by saying one must pray even when we don’t get the answer we want!!!  Wait a minute - I thought praying in a circle guaranteed your prayer would be answered!  After all, aren’t prayers “prophecies” - and don’t prophecies have to come true?

I found an excellent analysis of this video at "Pilgrim's Light Ministries."   It would be well worth your reading to be informed on such unbiblical teachings.
So I have one BIG question:  Where do we find this teaching in the Bible; where do we find people drawing mystical circles and God “multiplying miracles” for people doing so?
I had never heard of Mark Batterson previous to receiving this booklet, so I “googled” him and discovered that he is just another “seeker-sensitive/purpose-driven” pastor of a mega church with several campuses.  An excellent example of a report from Apprising Ministries examines how Batterson responds to his critics.   The post also demonstrates that Batterson’s poor hermeneutical approach to Scripture is not new.  
Only in this westernized, wealthy, hedonistic culture will you find people teaching all these gimmicks about prayer (remember the “Prayer of Jabez”?).  While Christians in the Islamic world are being martyred on a daily basis, pastors like Mark Batterson sell gimmicks to gullible Christians who think God just has to be manipulated in the right way.