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

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

“Outreach” Services

I have previously written an article about what the assembled church is for. One thing I pointed out is that the assembled church is NOT for inviting in unbelievers, such as with “outreach” services. The assembly is for corporate worship, edification, etc, for believers. And it is where the individual Christians learn to take the Gospel into the world!

IF the church wants to have an “outreach” service, it should not be the normal gathering of the saints, rather it should be a separate gathering specifically for preaching to the unsaved.  And then it should not have gimmicks, shows, or any sort of entertainment, because what you win them with is what you win them to.

What’s worse is that churches who have the “outreach” services almost always pay for someone to come in so they can have a “creative way” to “reach the lost.” (For example, Christian “magicians” come to put on magic shows.)  When a church spends money for this purpose, I stop giving offerings there.  My offerings are not to be used to entertain “seekers.” I can’t see Paul looking for “creative” ways to reach the lost!  Again, don’t win them with anything other than the WORD of God; no entertainment, no appealing to emotions, etc.

The assembly at which we currently worship has had previous “outreach” services in the evening rather than in the morning where we Christians gather together.  However, they also like to use the normal worship service for this — which is wrong — and I will never attend this type of service. That is what will be happening at the end of this month.

The person this assembly has contracted with is Eric Samuel Timm, and the video we were shown this week as a “teaser” demonstrates that this “outreach” service will be an appeal to emotions. This speaker’s website says he is an “orator, author, artist, visionary” — and I am afraid to see just what a “visionary” has to do with the Church. The site claims that “Eric is one of America’s premier Bible teachers,” which I consider a bit of hubris; if he is a “premier” Bible teacher, then why haven’t I previously heard of him?

I looked over his site some more and found an endorsement claiming that he is “anointed.”  Yeah, well so are Benny Hinn, the IHOP gang, the NAR, and all the Hillsong and Bethel teachers.  Don’t you just love the way people claim to be “anointed”? I see more and more use of the world on his site as his way to reach the lost, as well as all sorts of claims about Eric’s philosophy, which is all about assertions:

Our eyes are the windows to our soul. Where words fall short, Eric Samuel Timm uses powerful live art and visuals to help his audience see what they cannot hear.

Each piece created by Eric carries a powerful, deep, life-giving message to bring hope to those who need it most.

Well, from what I saw on the “teaser” video and on his site, I don’t consider what Eric does to be art.  Reading all the statements about who Eric is and what he does for society/culture sure makes it sound as if we really can’t do without his expertise in so many areas. 

By the way, he also gets an endorsement from
Youth Specialties, a group no Christian should seek endorsement from, since they promote mysticism and interspirituality.  The forward to his new book, Static Jedi: The Art of Hearing God Through the Noise, is by Mark Batterson — the guy who wrote the unbiblical “Be A Circle Maker, as well as other unbiblical teachings.

The “teaser” we saw had Timm talking about knowing what it’s like to write your own suicide note, and how we can learn to write our own story.  

Well, I don’t need to listen to a motivational speaker trying to reach “seekers” who may be in the “audience” during a morning worship service.  I want to hear the WORD expounded.

Shepherds, I have no idea why you feel the need to be like the mega-churches, the seeker-sensitive/market-driven goat pens.  It isn’t needed and you do your flock a disservice by bringing in such speakers/entertainers for “outreach” during time supposedly set aside for BELIEVERS!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Jesus Lover of My Soul

Jesus, lover of my soul, 
let me to thy bosom fly, 
while the nearer waters roll, 
while the tempest still is high; 
hide me, O my Savior, hide, 
till the storm of life is past; 
safe into the haven guide, 
O receive my soul at last! 

Other refuge have I none; 
hangs my helpless soul on thee; 
leave, ah! leave me not alone, 
still support and comfort me. 
All my trust on thee is stayed, 
all my help from thee I bring; 
cover my defenseless head 
with the shadow of thy wing. 

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
more than all in Thee I find;
raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
heal the sick, and lead the blind;
just and holy is Thy name,
I am all unrighteousness;
false and full of sin I am,
Thou are full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with thee is found, 
grace to cover all my sin; 
let the healing streams abound; 
make and keep me pure within. 
Thou of life the fountain art; 
freely let me take of thee; 
spring thou up within my heart, 
rise to all eternity. 

By Charles Wesley

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Good, Bad, and Ugly

It’s been quite a busy time for me, giving me little time for blog work. I’ve had a few piping jobs - and today I will be playing for a funeral an hour away - as well as taking an overnight with my sweetie to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of our wedding.  And the yard work never stops calling my name!  So here are things I’ve been reading since my last “GBU” post.

The Good:
Unconditional Love” is from the psyche field, not from the Bible.

Is Mark’s Gospel an early memoir of the Apostle Peter?  YES!

How did Judas die?  Biblical contradiction?  NO.

The Bad and/or Ugly
Matt Chandler continues to demonstrate his total lack of discernment as he and Francis Chan, another poorly-discerning teacher, join with the false teaching Hillsong and heretical Jesus Culture in a conference — a conference which has nothing to do with the REAL Christian faith.  Stay away from the teachings which come from these people.

It is really sad when a Jewish “biblical scholar” decides that Leviticus has been messed with and that it originally approved of homosexual behavior. Of course he has also decided that nothing in the Pentateuch is original.

This says a LOT about this so-called “Christian” conference (“Revoice”).

Robert Gagnon gives his comments on that “Christian” conference (“Revoice”).

An example of the sort of nonsense found at “Revoice.”

Oh boy, another “conference of false prophets, false apostles, and every other sort of false teacher.  Any name you see in these advertisements are people to avoid like the plague.

Steven Furtick seems demonic to me.

Beth Moore’s theology is getting wackier by the day.  AVOID HER!

David Barton is a dangerous false teacher.  AVOID HIM!

Bethel Redding/Bill Johnson are getting more aberrant and absurd every day.  That place is a bastion of every kind of false teaching by FALSE prophets.  WARN everyone to avoid that place and their teachings as if their very lives depend upon it.

A “pastor” from a UMC mega-church claims that supporting same-sex fake marriage isn’t incompatible with Christian orthodoxy, that it isn’t heresy.  Well, when you say there is such a thing as this fake marriage, then you are saying that God approves of it, which means you are worshipping another God and not the God of the Bible — i.e., you are indeed practicing heresy!

And the Pope again disagrees with God. His excuses for violating Gen.9:6 are just asinine.  Hey Mr. Pope — assertions from you don’t trump God’s rules!

No humor for today!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pedophile Priests

Over the last few decades I have learned about hundreds, if not thousands, of priests who molested children (age 12 and under specifically) and yet were kept in their positions; the ungodly Papist Church just moved them around and around whenever they were caught.  This, of course, has led to many ruined lives as well as victim suicides.

This is one of the issues which is blatant proof that the Papist Roman Catholic Church has never represented God.  (Really, just take a look at the history of the
sexual immorality among the popes!).

I have always said that this rampant pedophilia among priests is a result of the Papist dogma requiring priests to be celibate, which is an unnatural state for most men.  These priests then seek sexual gratification among the innocent, and then coerce them into silence.

I recently viewed the movie, “Spotlight,” which is about a 2001-2002 Boston Globe investigation exposing almost 100 pedophile priests in the Boston area, as well as the cover-up by the local Cardinal and the Papist Church while they shuffled known predators from parish to parish.

This past week we have another news item about an investigation into over 300 pedophile priests in Pennsylvania.

Then Lighthouse Trails has a report of a Cardinal stepping down due to sexual abuse.

This sex abuse takes place around the world, always protected by Rome.

Popes, Cardinals, Priests — centuries and centuries of rampant sexual immorality among Papism’s leaders is 100% proof that the Roman Catholic Church is a man-made organization, invented to control people.  They are a very cultic organization who exercises onerous control over their members as well as abusing them sexually.  (Interesting how virtually every cult has includes sexual immorality and abuse by their leaders!)

And yet Roman Catholics refuse to acknowledge the fact that their organization is not from God.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Good, Bad, and Ugly

Quite a few good articles to link to this time; some for education and some for edification.  

The Shroud of Turin is NOT genuine.  I’ve been saying that since I first heard of it years and years ago.

Romanism’s false hope of purgatory.

The moral law reflects God’s character.

Jesus is NOT a copy of pagan Gods.  But we knew this, didn’t we?

A book review of a new biography of Aimee Temple McPherson; she is the origin of the Foursquare Church.

Troubling terms of the “Social Justice Movement.”

The great Flood of the Bible or uniformitarian geology? I’ll go with the former, which makes much more sense scientifically!

The Bad and/or Ugly
The ELCA needs to quit pretending it is a Christian organization. In this incident they are promoting child abuse and perversion. If you are a member of the ELCA, WHY?

Former President Jimmy Carter worships a different Christ — a Christ who accepts an abomination.

Catholic defense of Marian devotion is actually no defense at all, and horribly bizarre  unbiblical nonsense.

Sarah Young has a devotional Bible out now, with all sorts of direct teachings from God and Jesus, or so she claims. Stay away from this spiritually dangerous publication.

Matt Chandler continues to implode with false teachings.

Rachel Held Evans has a new book: be forewarned that it is 100% false teaching.

The humorous
Oh, wouldn’t this be great!!

Oh how I wish this was true!

I love these jabs at Joel Osteen — they are so poignant!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

History Lesson Follow-Up

Jesse, at Rational Christian Discernment, has written some articles about the history of Roman Catholicism that you might find to be an interesting addition to the series I just finished. Search around.

The Historical Development of Papal Authority.  For more on papal authority, I direct you to an article I wrote in 2010.

A good, concise history of the Roman Church (previously linked to on a “Good, Bad, and Ugly” post).

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A History Lesson, Part 7

The greatest military challenge to the Eastern empire was the rise of Islam.  When Mohammed died in 632, his followers carried their faith with the sword into the Persian and Byzantine empires. Major centers were lost to the Muslim hordes: Damascus fell in 635, Jerusalem in 638, Caesarea in 640, and Alexandria in 641. As the Muslims swept across North Africa and into Spain, they were finally stopped by Charles Martel and the Franks in 732, but in the Eastern empire they continued on up into the Balkans. As time went by, this caused more and more isolation of the East from the West.

“When the Goths swept down upon Rome, that city turned for help - not to Constantinople, but to the Franks; in gratitude for his aid the pope crowned Charles the Great - Charlemagne - emperor on Christmas Day in 800, and the Roman Church became coterminous with the Holy Roman Empire.”  (Frank S. Mead, Handbook of Denominations, p. 183). Due to the leadership of the Roman Bishop holding the western empire together, the Roman bishop was able to provide the spiritual leadership for all those under the new government of Charlemagne. This met with resistance and resentment in the East.

According to Reardon, “The causes of the break between Eastern and Western Christianity were complex, but the chief one was probably the Roman Papacy. The political disintegration resulting from the barbarian invasions solicited a strong, highly centralized form of oversight in the Western Church, and Rome was the only one of the original patriarchs found west of the Adriatic Sea. As more and more problems in the West were referred to the Roman Papacy for adjudication, Rome’s recognized authority grew. This authority was considerably aided by certain forged documents, one of which purported that Constantine had given the government of central Italy into the hands of the Roman Pope. In the East, meanwhile, marked by greater political unity and stability, the Church felt no need for such centralized oversight.”  The History of Orthodox Christianity, p. 20)

The Roman Pope and the patriarch of Constantinople continued in conflict over various matters.  “In 857 Ignatius, in Constantinople, refused to administer the sacrament to Caesar Bardas on the ground that he was immoral. Tried and imprisoned by the emperor, Ignatius was succeeded by Photius…” (Mead, p.183). Pope John VII opposed the appointment of Photius, who in his turn refused to accept the supremacy of the pope in the Eastern Church. When the Latin delegation at his council of his consecration pressured Photius to accept the filioque to get their support, he refused that also. More controversy developed over ecclesiastical jurisdictional rights in the Bulgarian church.

In the tenth century Vladimir, grand prince of Kiev and of all Russia converted to Christianity.  His envoys to Constantinople were captivated by the Church of Holy Wisdom and the liturgy.  

In 1054 what is known as the “Great Schism” took place between Rome and Constantinople when the pope excommunicated the Eastern Patriarch and was in turn excommunicated himself by the Patriarch. The primary doctrinal issues were the filioque clause and the authority of the pope.  Other issues included the dates for Easter, priestly celibacy, disagreements over different Lenten practices, and the type of bread to use for the Eucharist.

Further separation was caused by the sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, including the sacking of the Church of Holy Wisdom. “The Crusades, which had been called to fight against the Moslem invaders, also turned the sword against the Orthodox Christians in the East.”  (Reardon, p.21)  The Orthodox Church was suppressed in its own capital for the next 50 years.

“As Moslem forces began to take the territory all around Constantinople, Byzantine emperors pleaded for military help from fellow Christians in the West.  In response to these pleas, Rome summoned a synod of reunion at the city of Florence in 1439.  Eastern Orthodoxy’s small delegation, including the Emperor, the Patriarch of Constantinople and a few bishops, capitulated to Rome’s insistence on the filioque and the supremacy of the Roman Pope over all of the Church. This “Union of Florence” was immediately and universally rejected in the East, nor did it bring very many Christians from the West to fight for the survival of Byzantium.”  (Reardon, p.21)

In 1453 Constantinople finally fell to the Ottoman Turk Muslims, and the Byzantine empire ceased to exist. “After eleven centuries, the original Christian empire was at an end, and the Christians became a minority in a community run by Muslims. Without an emperor as their head, they looked to the patriarch for political guidance. Muslims tended to follow the Christian lead and consider him the spokesman for the Christian community.”  (Shelly, p.150)

After the fall of Constantinople, leadership of the Eastern church flourished in Russia.  “Over the years Russia made the aesthetic glories of Orthodox Christianity her own.  Gradually Moscow came to see herself as the leader of the Orthodox world.  A theory developed that there had been one Rome, in Italy, that had fallen to the barbarians and to the Roman Catholic heresy. There had been a second Rome: Constantinople. And when that fell to the Turks, there was a third Rome: Moscow. The emperor took his title from the first Rome - Tzar is the same word as Caesar — just as he had taken his religion from the second.” (Shelly, p.151)

Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches consider themselves to be the one true Christian church, both claiming direct apostolic succession, to the earliest church established by Paul. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy “is composed of several self-governing ecclesial bodies, each geographically and nationally distinct but theologically unified. Each self-governing (or autocephalous) body, often but not always encompassing a nation, is shepherded by a synod of bishops whose duty, among other things, is to preserve and teach the Apostolic and patristic traditions and related church practices.”  (Wikipedia, Orthodox Church). “It is not a monarchy with one all-powerful ruler at the top, but ‘an oligarchy of patriarchs,’ based on the body of bishops and responsible to local or general (ecumenical) church councils.  No one patriarch is responsible to any other patriarch; yet all are within the jurisdiction of an ecumenical council of all the churches in communion with the patriarch of Constantinople, who holds the title Ecumenical Patriarch.”  (Handbook of Denominations, p.183).  

To better understand the nature of Eastern Orthodoxy compared to Roman Catholicism in the way they operate as organizations, Reardon gives a good explanation:
“A single illustration may serve the purpose. When monks from Rome established their mission in England, centered at Canterbury, near the end of the sixth century, they continued to remain under the immediate jurisdiction of the Roman Pope and their language in worship continued to be Latin. The same pattern attended the missionary work in Gaul, Germany, Scandinavia and elsewhere in the West. Latin was the language of worship in all these churches (until Vatican II in the early 1960’s), and Rome endeavored with varying success to gain and retain appointment of local bishops.  By and large the latter is still the case today.
“Such centralization and uniformity did not characterize the historical development of Eastern Orthodoxy, as we may see in the matter of language.  Notwithstanding the dominance of the Greek tongue throughout the Byzantine Empire, there had always been Eastern Christians who worshiped in Syrian, Ethiopian, Coptic and eventually Arabic; so as Orthodox missionaries moved northward it was understood from the beginning that the native tongues of the new regions would be the languages used for worship and life of the new congregations.  In fact, since these native languages had never previously been written down, the missionaries themselves were obliged to elaborate a new alphabet for them and commenced their literature from scratch.  One should keep in mind that between the Slavic mission of 863 and the Alaskan mission of 1793 the Orthodox Church put the Gospel into nearly 3 dozen languages that had never been written down before.” (The History of Orthodox Christianity, pp. 23-24)

This idea of keeping the individual cultures where the Gospel was preached by Eastern Orthodoxy leads to branches known as “Russian Orthodox,” “Greek Orthodox,” etc (although often the whole denomination is called “Greek Orthodox“). There have even been schisms over the centuries based on some doctrinal issues so that there are also sects called Oriental Orthodox (Coptic and Syrian Orthodox, e.g.)

I hope this short history lesson demonstrates that Rome became the leading church not because of any foundation of Christ, but a foundation in the Roman Empire’s political system.  The Eastern Orthodox Church received its headship in the very same way.  Neither are the successor to the New Testament Church.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A History Lesson, Part 6

Excursus:  Icons and Iconoclasm

From the earliest beginnings of the church, artwork of various biblical scenes began to adorn meeting places.  During the fourth century, when Christian architecture became possible, buildings were adorned with paintings and mosaics of Jesus, the apostles, and biblical scenes.  However, there was concern by some bishops that many people would slip into idolatry by looking at these images.

During the sixth century in the Eastern empire, the church and imperial government encouraged the making of icons.  Where once the art most likely was used to remind Christians of their faith and its origins, the practice of not just appreciating the art but of actual venerating these icons spread. “Most ordinary Christians failed to distinguish between the holy object or holy person and the spiritual reality it stood for. They fell into idolatry.”  (Shelly, p. 147)  Justinian erected a huge statue of Jesus over the main gate of the imperial palace. “By the end of the sixth century, icons of Christ or Mary replaced the imperial icon in many situations. Eventually the icon of Christ appeared on the reverse side of coins. Early in the eighth century, however, Emperor Leo III (717-41) launched an attack on the use of icons.” (Shelly, p.148)

“After an apparently successful attempt to enforce the baptism of all Jews and Montanists in the empire (722), he issued a series of edicts against the worship of images (726–729). This prohibition…seems to have been inspired by a genuine desire to improve public morality, and received the support of the official aristocracy and a section of the clergy. A majority of the theologians and all the monks opposed these measures with uncompromising hostility, and in the western parts of the empire the people refused to obey the edict. A revolt which broke out in Greece, mainly on religious grounds, was crushed by the imperial fleet in 727. In 730, Patriarch Germanos I of Constantinople resigned rather than subscribe to an iconoclastic decree. Leo had him replaced by Anastasios, who willingly sided with the emperor on the question of icons. Thus Leo suppressed the overt opposition of the capital. In the Italian Peninsula the defiant attitude of Popes Gregory II and Gregory III on behalf of image-veneration led to a fierce quarrel with the emperor. The former summoned councils in Rome to anathematize and excommunicate the iconoclasts (730, 732); In AD 740 Leo retaliated by transferring Southern Italy and Illyricum from the papal diocese to that of the Patriarch of Constantinople. …The emperor died of dropsy in June 741.”  (Wikipedia  article, Leo III the Isaurian)

The supporters of icons were mostly monks and ascetics, as well as the uneducated and superstitious from the general populations who followed them. In fact, some monasteries made and sold icons for a living. (Shelly, p.148)

When Emperor Leo IV died in 780, Empress Irene of Athens became regent for her 10-year-old son, Constantine VI.  As her son grew older and challenged his mother, Irene had him blinded and took on the title of Emperor. She was a strong advocate for icons so in 787 she arranged for a council of bishops from both Roman and Byzantine empires to meet in what is now known as the Seventh Ecumenical Council, or the Second Council of Nicea. (She was also a patron of monasteries and for these two reasons is considered a saint in the Orthodox Church.).

The outcome of this council was the restoration of the use of icons for worship and veneration:  "As the sacred and life-giving cross is everywhere set up as a symbol, so also should the images of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the holy angels, as well as those of the saints and other pious and holy men be embodied in the manufacture of sacred vessels, tapestries, vestments, etc., and exhibited on the walls of churches, in the homes, and in all conspicuous places, by the roadside and everywhere, to be revered by all who might see them. For the more they are contemplated, the more they move to fervent memory of their prototypes. Therefore, it is proper to accord to them a fervent and reverent adoration, not, however, the veritable worship which, according to our faith, belongs to the Divine Being alone — for the honor accorded to the image passes over to its prototype, and whoever adores the image adores in it the reality of what is there represented. …

“The Orthodox Church came to believe that, in the iconoclasm controversy, the very essence of the Christian faith was at stake - not because of the images as such but because of the underlying principle of the Incarnation, the doctrine that the Son of God had actually become a visible man.  The defeat of the iconoclasts came to be known, then, as ‘The Triumph of Orthodoxy’ and gave the Orthodox Church that certain enthusiastic confidence, even ebullience, that leaves it vulnerable, at times, to the charge of ‘triumphalism.’ It is an historical fact that the defeat of iconoclasm led almost immediately to a massive expansion of the Orthodox Church, especially in the great missions of 863 and 988...”  (Patrick Henry Reardon, The History of Orthodox Christianity, p. 18)

Next time we will meet the invasion of Islam.