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, December 22, 2009

Public Apologetics-Evangelism Ministry

In this post I am going to tell you about a ministry my wife and I have.

Our ministry is in the pedestrian mall (streets closed off to make a park lined with stores, restaurants, bars) in Iowa City. From spring to late fall, as weather permits, we are there Friday evenings with a book table giving away Christian books. A sign on our table says, “Free Christian Books.” Our books are many explaining and defending the Christian faith, a sampling being Case for Christ, Case for Faith, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist, Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, Christian Faith 101, Bibles, More Than A Carpenter, and numerous booklets from Answers in Genesis.
Being one of the most liberal university towns in America, you can imagine the people who cruise the “ped mall” - students of every variety from all over the world (often in very immodest attire), liberal professors, atheists, skeptics, and even families of every size. The seedier side of society also cruises there - homosexuals, homeless, street-walkers, drunks, and pan-handlers. Many come over with genuine interest and engage us in much conversation, while others come over to harass us. We have a lot of Mormon missionaries, because of the Mormon history of the area, and we‘ve engaged them often about their false belief system (they don‘t know what to do with me as I come equipped with my own “Triple Combination” and other material). There are other tables or blankets laid out selling new age books, giving tarot readings, selling socialist papers, and activists for every liberal cause. The Mormons tried copying us for a while with their own table. Part of the draw to the ped mall are the Friday evening free concerts which range from rock to folk to country. Families are there also for the local theatre with stage productions.

We have done this ministry since 2003. When people ask about churches we send them to local churches we know are solid doctrinally (not many!). We don’t know if many people have come to know the Lord because of our table, but we did have one young man who returned months later to tell us that he came to the Lord after reading I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist and invited us to his baptism.

One of the more interesting aspects is that the unbelieving regulars of the ped mall come to see us as a fixture they miss when we aren’t there. We have had unbelievers even come to our defense when some of the ruder, more threatening people come over. Being the presence representing light in such a spiritually dark place has given us many opportunities to help people with material needs as well.

Another type of people who come to our table are Christians. Many come over just to give us encouragement, but we also get many who are looking for ways to learn more about their faith, or for information to help lead friends to Christ. Many times we have had young people come over for counsel. In several situations we have suggested other books which would be helpful, and have sent them in the mail later.

Some evenings we will have so many “customers” that we can’t keep up with them, while other times we may sit all night with only one or two people stopping. We have been blessed this past year with a couple who also think this is a viable ministry and, although they live an hour away (compared to our 20 minutes), they come as often as possible.

I can definitely say that it is a great ministry in which to practice apologetics. We have also been thankful that we have attended conferences for Biblical Counselors, which has provided us much insight and ideas for working with these people.

Perhaps you can take encouragement from hearing of our ministry and try it out yourself at a local college town - or any other open-to-the-public venue.

UPDATE:  At the end of fall 2014, we ceased operating this ministry.  Construction in the Ped Mall, removing old buildings and constructing an apartment complex, impacted traffic flow reducing numbers of people.  In 2012 the laws changed to not allow tables except at an area where few people went, and permits were required for that.  So for 2013 and 2014 we used a large tool box on a cart.  New laws also forced out many of those who normally frequented the Ped Mall, such as homeless, drifters, panhandlers, and various groups.  While the weekly concerts at the one end continued, the genre was less desirable for many who used to frequent them.  All this along with a noticeable change in attitudes (everyone seemed to be spiritually apathetic, and even moreso the 2nd time President Obama was elected; we noticed a definite decrease in traffic beginning about 2010 as many of the locals were happy their "man" was in office and that the government was now going to give them all their needs).  We became more and more ignored and avoided that in 2014 we gave away only three books.  We felt that our ministry had served a good purpose for many years but the Lord will probably have something else for us to do now.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

And God Created Darwin

“Faith is the substance of fossils hoped for, the evidence of links unseen.”

This rewording of Hebrews 11:1 is just before the table of contents of the book, And God Created Darwin, by Duane Arthur Schmidt and published by Allegiant Press.

Dr. Schmidt is a local dentist who sent me an autographed copy of his book because he liked a letter-to-the-editor I wrote about evolution. It is an excellent book and it is even endorsed by Phillip E. Johnson. It was Johnson’s book, The Wedge of Truth, that gave Schmidt the idea for his book. Schmidt wanted to write a book about evolution with the idea of not even bringing God into the discussion: “The evolution argument from science becomes so preposterous that religion need not enter the equation.”

This book is a concise reference work about all the major scientific challenges to Darwinism. In the introduction Schmidt points out the problem with theistic evolution, saying that “to believe God and Darwin worked hand-in-hand to create life on earth either elevates Darwin to godliness or denigrates God to humanness. In the final wash, neither concept works.” He also tells us, “Evolution is taught because it supports a metaphysic that has chased God from the classroom.”

The first chapter is focused on the Galapagos and the wonders of wildlife there. Schmidt demonstrates the real science behind these creatures against what Darwin claimed. An interesting observation was from a museum on San Cristobal where they show supposed ancestral species, and have a sign posted which says, in Spanish, “Imaginary Link.” These are the best proofs the museum has and yet they are labeled “imaginary.” That should tell us something!

In the next chapter we have a summary of the problems of evolution versus the cell. Evolutionists have all these ideas about one animal changing to another, but they can’t explain how to get the basic cell! Sort of like putting the cart before the horse - one needs cells before getting the full creature. Schmidt begins showing some of his wit with imaginary conversations between cells. Discussing cells leads into the information theory and demonstrating the need for a programmer. Schmidt says, “If evolutionists cannot answer these questions about the first cell, why can anyone believe that we even have anything sensible to talk about downstream?” He then points out that, “Evolutionary thought today provides many other instances where priority of the paradigm (i.e., the assumption that evolution is fact) takes precedence over common sense.”

When he comes to Chapter Three, Schmidt brings in more humor as he discusses problems which would occur as one animal species transitioned into another animal species. This continues the thought from cells to bigger problems.

Next, we learn of “Darwinians’ Deceits and Deceptions.” Schmidt quotes Carl Sagan complaining that only nine percent of Americans believe in evolution. Schmidt then boldly states, “Only nine percent of Americans believe in evolution? Nine percent of a population of believers adds up to ninety-one percent of Americans who do not believe in evolution. But their children watch TV shows such as Nova that claim evolution is a fact. Their children’s science textbooks proclaim evolution to be fact, and many of their children’s biology teachers teach evolution as a fact.” He then reminds us that, “Thought control, in the form of a sketchy theory of evolution taught as fact, already has wormed its way into schools, even if gun control has not. In many respects, that form of control is more dangerous than uncontrolled weaponry.”

Schmidt quotes a People for the American Way position paper as saying, “The public is clearly not supportive of attempts by a small, extreme minority to force their religious beliefs into science classrooms either as ‘Creation Science’…or by stripping the teaching from the curriculum.” He then responds, “A vast majority (eighty-seven percent) of Americans who believe God either created the universe all at once, or guided evolution, can hardly be labeled an extreme minority. These believers in God, who PFAW said want to force their religious beliefs into science classrooms, perhaps want their schools simply to reflect both honesty in science and their cultural values. It is hardly strange that an eighty-seven percent majority may want the true minority of atheistic evolutionists, who daily force their secular tenets, in the name of science, upon all children, to take a walk.”

More humor follows as Dr. Schmidt leads us through surgery on an evolutionist’s book. After this he says, “A good reading guideline, if you are compelled to read the likes of Jones, Lewontin, Dawkins, Gould, and Darwin, is to keep your scalpel ready and perform mental liposuction as you go. Suction out the invalidated, irrelevant, uncorroborated, unauthenticated, unsubstantiated, unverified (and unverifiable), unproven (and unprovable), plus the unwarranted statements and unbridled assumptions. You will be shocked at how little is left of evolution literature.”

A disturbing quote is from a children’s book, Wonderful Egg (recommended by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the American Council on Education, and the Association for Childhood Development), which shows how a bird hatches from a dinosaur egg: “It was a wonderful new kind of egg. And when it hatched, it hatched into a baby bird, the first baby bird in the whole world. And the baby bird grew up to be a beautiful bird with feathers. The first beautiful bird that ever sang a song high in the tree tops of the new green world of long, long ago.” Schmidt is so right on when he says, “When fables turn into facts, and receive accreditations from educators and scientists, one must fear for the future of science and for our children.”

Schmidt has one whole chapter which discusses nothing but the various frauds from evolutionists, and other chapters on dating methods, comparing apes and humans to show how they couldn’t possibly be related, irreducible complexity, and intelligent design.

Dr. Schmidt sums up the book pretty well with, “None but a cloistered today could possibly maintain a belief in an in coherent system so abysmally inadequate that, not only can it not come close to explaining these irreducible complexities, it cannot even offer an imagined pathway. No imaginary links are acceptable at this window.”

This book is fast-paced and only 197 pages long. Its style keeps your interest very well. I recommend this book as an excellent addition to any creationist’s library.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

God Mandates Sound Doctrine

"Few churches today attract large crowds because of careful, systematic teaching of the Word. People will flock to churches with great programs for all ages, a well-organized sports schedule, or to hear professional-level music, but sound doctrine holds little attraction. Yet it is sound doctrine that God mandates. Lives are not changed by programs and entertainment; they are transformed by the renewing of our minds that can only come through exposure to the truth of God's Word (Romans 12:2)"

Gary E.Gilley, editorial in Personal Freedom Outreach's "The Quarterly Journal," Jan-Mar 2010.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The ELCA - Moving From Apostate to Heretical

Here's a bit of news from One News Now:
Evangelical Lutheran leader suggests Bible not the final authority
Associated Press - 12/7/2009 7:20:00 AM

CHICAGO - The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is suggesting that the Bible isn't the last word on homosexuality.

In a town hall meeting Sunday, Bishop Mark Hanson said, "the understanding we have of homosexuality today does not seem to be reflected at all in the context of the biblical writers."

Therefore, he said, Lutherans should consider more modern views on sexual orientation.

In its churchwide convention in August, the ELCA lifted its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy, prompting some traditional congregations to withhold funds and begin forming a separate denomination.

But Hanson insisted the ELCA can accommodate both views. In his words, "God is still speaking to us."

He also suggests that more homosexual-friendly policies may help the denomination grow.

Once you start down the road of apostasy to the point the ELCA has reached with their stance on abortion, homosexuality, and women leaders, it is not much of a step to become heretical by denying the Word of God. God's Word is very plain as to how God sees the sin of homosexuality, and no amount of denial by man is going to change it.

If you are a Christian still attending an ELCA assembly, please explain why you don't shake the dust off your feet; I'd really like to know!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Alpha Course

You may have heard of a course called Alpha – it’s been making the rounds for quite a few years in churches nationwide, and also over in merry ole England. It claims to be a course for reaching out to the unsaved. Alpha originated in Holy Trinity Brompton Church in England and seems to be most popular here in the States in the Episcopal churches, although I have seen it advertised in the newspaper as being held at churches of other denominations.

Holy Trinity Brompton (also known as HTB) is a home of the false revival and other aberrations of that nature, so right away one has to be suspicious of any course coming from there. A little research definitely proves the suspicions valid.

Some books published in England are a thorough investigation of Alpha. The books are written by Elizabeth McDonald and Dusty Peterson, and comprise three paperbacks. The main title of all three is, Alpha – the unofficial guide. The main guide is in two volumes: World and Church. The final volume is Overview, which is a summation of the other two. The authors are well qualified to do this study since they have reviewed just about every video and audio tape and other publications put out by Alpha, and have attended some of the courses themselves. It is very thorough research.

I first read these books in 2003 when they were new. The first book I read was Overview, which was unfortunate because it really gave me the wrong impression of the main volumes. I think the authors’ brevity in that volume led to some ambiguity and confusion in regards to issues that were very well spelled out in the main volumes. My recommendation for anyone interested in studying the Alpha Course would be to read the main volumes first to get a better and fairer overall evaluation. For this commentary, I will highlight the volume Church.

There is one issue where I part company with the authors and that is their KJV-only stance. There are many complaints about Bibles other than KJV being used in this course, but I don’t really see that it matters what they use since Alpha is short on Bible use anyway. I do have to say that this series did give me a new perspective on comparing various translations; most of the authors’ arguments comparing passages were very good and only a few did I feel could be discounted. If the KJV-only stance turns you off, either forget about the books or just overlook those parts. I think the material on Alpha is well worth the study.

A primary problem with Alpha is its ecumenicism; it is very supportive and encouraging of Roman Catholicism. Because of the very strong connection with R.C. and Alpha, the authors spend a lot of time with the history and doctrine of R.C. so the reader will have no doubt as to the problems with encouraging unity with such an apostate religion. For those unfamiliar with R.RC. heresies and aberrations, this book is a very good primer.

Alpha is very weak on the gospel message and, as noted above, does not rely much on Scripture. There is a lot of “easy-believism” in the teaching about “accepting Christ” to the point where, according to the many cited testimonies, people really have no understanding of what it means to be Christian. “Holy Spirit Weekend” appears to be nothing more than an introduction to the false revival (the same “revival” of Toronto, Pensacola, etc). There is a lot of emphasis on how we “feel” about our beliefs, and how our “self-esteem” is doing. Absolutely no discernment is taught, and “students” are encouraged to go to “any church” without regard to doctrinal teachings.

There are a lot of quotations from the various Alpha sources, and most of them are troublesome because of either ambiguity in the teaching or just plain bad doctrine. There are some areas where you may see some “nit-picking” as I did, but when you understand that some of what may seem as “nit-picking” is actually showing the general tenor of the course (this was explained to me by the authors in personal communications), you will realize it was necessary to be picky in these areas.

Since Alpha is still making the rounds, if anyone is attending a church which intends to use, or is using, the Alpha Course, I strongly urge you to acquire these volumes so as to be armed for discussions with your leadership as to why they should not use Alpha. If you have friends involved in Alpha, I would suggest you learn about this course so as to be able to present them with the true gospel message and defend against errors in the course.

Information about purchasing this series by Elizabeth and Dusty can be found at http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~emcd/index.htm

Holy Trinity Brompton is a bad tree and Alpha is its bad fruit. Be Bereans.

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?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Manifestations in the Church

Robert Liichow, a former member of Benny Hinn’s circus, now has an apologetics ministry aimed mainly at the Word of Faith movement, TBN, and that sort of stuff. I previously read one of his earlier books, The Two Roots of Today’s Revival, and found it to be very well researched, so I decided to read another one, Blessing or Judgment? The Origin of Manifestations in the Church.

If you are interested in learning the origins of “holy laughter,” “slain in the spirit,” “spiritual drunkenness, animal noises and “gold teeth” found so prominently in the “revival” movement (Toronto, Brownsville, Lakeland, et al), this book has very good background research and gives an excellent, biblical critique, demonstrating the occult origins of all these manifestations.

An interesting note I have read elsewhere but found reiterated here is the fact that those seeking some of these manifestations are actually told NOT to pray in Jesus’ name: “While on the prayer team, we were instructed NOT to pray in Jesus’ name. We were told NOT to pray for the needs of the people. The only thing we were to do was touch people on their forehead and say, ‘More, Lord!’ and keep repeating that until there was an ‘impartation’ of the spirit being promoted in the meeting…Any deviation from the limited procedure would result in being removed from the prayer team, which did happen to a few individuals.”

That is bizarre! Liichow makes a very good point when he says, “We must not try to make the scriptures fit our experience. Rather, we must take our spiritual experiences to the Bible to see if they fit; if they do not, then we must abandon our non-biblical experiences.”

This is just a small taste of what Liichow has in store - this is what the book is about. Add this one to your apologetics library.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Leave the ELCA!

On June 12th I wrote that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was apostate. Since that time the church hierarchy has proven my point.

Last week the ELCA held a conference and on Wednesday voted on a “social statement on human sexuality,” which said the ELCA, according to an AP article, “could accommodated diverging views on homosexuality.” Two thirds of the 1,045 delegates voted to pass this statement.

Question for the ELCA: Where do you find biblical authority for diverging views on what God has called an abomination?

Not to be outdone, on Friday they voted to let sexually active gays and lesbians serve as clergy, as long as they are in committed relationships. Previously they could serve only if they remained celibate. The vote passed with 68% approval.

Question for the ELCA: Do any of you who voted for this stuff ever read your Bible? If homosexuality is abhorrent to God, and if God calls homosexual behavior a sin, how can you justify such behavior to the point where those who are practitioners are permitted to be leaders in the Church?!?!?!

Question for the ELCA: Will you next sanction adultery? What about fornication? What about pedophilia? Or perhaps prostitution is acceptable? What sexual immorality do you not condone, and why?

As I have asked about the Episcopal Church, if you are a true Christian can you explain why you would remain a member of this denomination?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

“THE PRAYER OF JABEZ” - An Analysis of the Book by Bruce Wilkinson

I'm still seeing this book in the book stores, and can't figure out why it is still so popular except that it tickles the ears. I first heard about this book eight years ago; I had read about it being very poor hermeneutics, but just chalked it up as another fad until Emmaus Bible College was passing it out to their graduates, one of whom was a daughter of a friend.

Emmaus Bible College is a solid, fundamental Bible college, so I was quite surprised at the content of this book when I borrowed it to see for myself what the clamor was about. I then did a review of the book for members of the church I was attending at the time to warn people away from this poor teaching. Here is the review I did then, and I think it is a good idea that we remember this book and the problems with it so as to avoid the other similar stuff from the same author.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote, “God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ. I say this so that no one will mislead you with arguments that merely sound good.” (Col. 2:3-4, GWN) In this analysis I will demonstrate that Mr. Wilkinson’s book is no more than “arguments that merely sound good.”

The prayer of Jabez is found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10: “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” (NIV)

There is nothing more in the Bible about Jabez. None of the prophets of the Old Testament, nor Jesus or the apostles ever mention this prayer. For 2000 years this verse has not been mentioned as having any significance, yet Mr. Wilkinson claims if we say this prayer daily (like a New Age mantra), “God’s great plan for you will surround you and sweep you forward into the profoundly important and satisfying life He has waiting..” (P.17)

What do we really know from this passage?
1. Jabez sounds like the Hebrew word for pain (this is from any commentary). His mother “gave birth to him in pain.” That is the origin of his name.
2. Since he is noted as “more honorable than his brothers,” we can infer he was a righteous man and had an established relationship with God.
3. Based on this obvious previous relationship, we are told of a particular prayer that God granted. We are not told that this was Jabez’s only prayer, nor would that be a logical assumption. The plain teachings of Scripture would tell us that Jabez must have had a previous intimate relationship with God that would lead to this prayer, since a relationship with God is required of anyone receiving blessing from Him.
4. This was a prayer by Jabez and no one else.

Without any Scriptural support, Mr. Wilkinson makes the following claims about this passage:

1. It is “a daring prayer that God always answers.” (Preface). Do we have any evidence that anyone else ever prayed this prayer before Wilkinson wrote this book? Do we have evidence that everyone who prays this gets answered?

2. It is “the key to a life of extraordinary favor with God.” (Preface). Where does Scripture say another person’s prayer is a key to our life of favor with God?

3. “The Jabez prayer distills God’s powerful will for your future.” (p.12) Again, where is the Biblical evidence?

4. “It reveals that your Father longs to give you so much more than you may have ever thought to ask for.” (p.17) The Bible says God gave him his request, not “so much more than...[Jabez] thought to ask for.”

5. “Jabez was blessed simply because he refused to let any obstacle, person, or opinion loom larger than God’s nature. And God’s nature is to bless.” (p.29). Where does Scripture say this about Jabez?

6. When Jabez asked for increased territory, according to Wilkinson he was asking for “more influence, more responsibility, and more opportunity to make a mark for the God of Israel.” (p.30) No place in the passage is this stated or even hinted at. This is complete eisegesis (reading into a passage what isn’t there). Then Wilkinson goes on to say that our use of this prayer as a rote petition will be a request for ministry opportunities. Does this prayer even remotely make this request? This is making it mean whatever you want it to mean.

7. “Thereafter his life was spared from the grief and pain that evil brings.” (p.74) Scripture doesn’t say this, so it must be a new revelation by God to Mr. Wilkinson. Scripture says that God granted Jabez’s prayer, part of which was asking to be kept free from harm so he would be free from pain. This does not say he didn’t suffer grief and pain from evil. All we can assume is that God kept him from harm, but this doesn’t necessarily correlate to eliminating grief caused by evil, or even emotional distress from others’ actions against him. Is it not possible to be protected from harm that brings physical pain and still suffer grief and emotional pain from the evil in the world?

8. Jabez was a “man who had no future.” (p.12) I challenge anyone to find this claim in the cited passage! We have no idea what kind of future Jabez would have had.

9. Mr. Wilkinson speculates about what caused pain for his mother (other than childbirth?), and that, since Jabez knew of God’s miracles, he figured he should be able to just ask the most from God and expect to receive it. (pp.20-21). We do not know from the passage what Jabez was thinking, so how can Wilkinson say this?

Mr. Wilkinson says he has prayed this prayer every morning for over 30 years, and that it has brought him great blessings and miracles, although he has given no evidence for any miracle, and blessings he claims can be very subjective. The premise of the book is that, by praying this prayer regularly:

1. “...thousands of believers...are seeing miracles happen on a regular basis.” (Preface). Yet he gives no evidence of real miracles that happened.

2. “Let me tell you of a guaranteed by-product of sincerely seeking His blessing: Your life will become marked by miracles. How do I know? Because He promises it, and I’ve seen it happen in my own.” (p.24) To begin with, a miracle is something that happens outside of natural causes, and Wilkinson fails to give any example of this taking place. He also says it is a guarantee, which means that God has no choice in the matter. He does not show from Scripture where God promises us miracles and life changes by praying this prayer!

3. “Through a simple, believing prayer, you can change your future. You can change what happens one minute from now.” (p.29) Out of context I can say this is a true statement, if one is talking about the prayer of a sinner coming to Christ. However, since the prayer Wilkinson is talking about is the prayer of Jabez, he can muster no Scriptural evidence for this claim.

On p.27 Wilkinson cites Matt.7:7 and James 4:2, and then interprets them as follows: “Even though there is no limit to God’s goodness, if you didn’t ask Him for a blessing yesterday, you didn’t get all that you were supposed to have.” There is no Scriptural support for this claim, and it limits God by our actions. This also takes these passages beyond any meaning of the original writer’s intentions.

On p.47 he states that, “As God’s chosen, blessed sons and daughters, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed... unless God steps in.” He then continues, “It is God’s plan for His most-honored servants.” Again, there is no evidence from Scripture to support these claims, and it begs the question of testing God.

Although Mr. Wilkinson’s teaching about seeking increased opportunities for ministry is a noble one, we cannot justify twisting of Scripture to support it, and his unbiblical claims warrant our discernment. Mr. Wilkinson has taken an obscure prayer and has made it into a superstitious charm, a mantra to be said every morning to ensure God’s blessings. Since the book propagates error and has “arguments that merely sound good,” it should be avoided by Christians.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let Us Emulate Paul's Teaching

So many of our modern “pastors” in the seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, Word-of-Faith, and even Emergent churches do a lot of preaching from various psychological theories instead of Scripture. They want to entertain or soft-soap the message so as not to offend. Then there are those like Mark Driscoll who seem to be trying to shock people with crude, offensive and even blasphemous language. Of course many of these are very arrogant in their whole approach, especially if you dare question their teaching; “touch not the Lord’s anointed!”

This week I began reading 1 Corinthians for my morning studies, and I came across this passage, which I think EVERY pastor should review:

“When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power." 1 Cor. 2:1-5, HCSB.

In the course of my Bible reading, I have been using William MacDonald’s “Believer’s Bible Commentary.” MacDonald has some good stuff to say about this passage:

2:1 The apostle now reminds the saints of his ministry among them and how he sought to glorify God and not himself. He came to them proclaiming the testimony of God, not with excellence of speech or of wisdom. He was not at all interested in showing himself off as an orator or philosopher. This shows that the Apostle Paul recognized the difference between ministry that is soulish and that which is spiritual. By soulish ministry, we mean that which amuses, entertains, or generally appeals to man’s emotions. Spiritual ministry, on the other hand, presents the truth of God’s word in such a way as to glorify Christ and to reach the heart and conscience of the hearers.

2:2 The content of Paul’s message was Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Jesus Christ refers to His Person, while Him crucified refers to His work. The Person and work of the Lord Jesus form the substance of the Christian evangel.

2:3 Paul further emphasizes that his personal demeanor was neither impressive nor attractive. He was with the Corinthians in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. The treasure of the gospel was contained in an earthen vessel that the excellence of the power might be of God and not of Paul. He himself was an example of how God uses weak things to confound the mighty.

2:4 Neither Paul’s speech nor his preaching were in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Some suggest that his speech refers to the material he presented and his preaching to the manner of its presentation. Others define his speech as his witness to individuals and his preaching as his messages to groups. According to the standards of this world, the apostle might never have won an oratorical contest. In spite of this, the Spirit of God used the message to produce conviction of sin and conversion to God.

2:5 Paul knew that there was the utmost danger that his hearers might be interested in himself or in his own personality rather than in the living Lord. Conscious of his own inability to bless or to save, he determined that he would lead men to trust in God alone rather than in the wisdom of men. All who proclaim the gospel message or teach the word of God should make this their constant aim.

Can you imagine the church today if all of our pastors emulated Paul in their preaching? What a difference it would make!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

King James Version Only?

I have studied the whole issue of the “King James Only” controversy for several years now, as well as studying the issue of biblical translational philosophy (formal vs. dynamic). I have a whole shelf of books on the subjects in my personal library.

Now, I am not going to entertain debates or arguments of any sort in relation to the merits of which Bible version is better, etc. I want only to make a few points about the “KJV Only” issue because of the cultish nature of some KJV only believers.

1. The KJV is NOT the inspired Word of God. It is man’s translation, and quite a fallible one at that, with many errors. And if you want to argue for KJV only, then which version are you claiming?

2. Most other English versions are quite acceptable for teaching the Christian faith. People do indeed come to Christ through their usage. (Yes, there are abominable so-called “translations,” such as the New World Translation, the Joseph Smith Translation, the Clear Word Bible, The Message, et al)

3. Christians who use other versions are not of the devil and are not new age conspiracists.

4. Since the KJV itself is not inspired, it is redundant to call any other version a “Non Inspired Version” (as I have heard the NIV referred to).

5. There is no conspiracy to bring in “new age” versions of the Bible. (Unless you want to say the conspiracy is one of Satan, who wants to distort the Word of God.) This includes other conspiracies which supposedly involve the Catholic Church, the Illuminati and other organizations that probably don’t exist either.

6. Having a Christian assembly based on everyone accepting only the KJV as the Word of God is cultish. Period.

7. 1611 English makes the KJV an excellent tool for false teachers, and all sorts of cults and aberrational teachings are based on misunderstanding 400 year-old English!

With the abysmally poor reading skills of the average person on the street, it is very difficult to reach people using Elizabethan English. As problematic as the NIV is, I have found it to be a much better version for reaching non-believers, although my Bible of preference for passing out tends to be the NKJV or ESV. However, I do not neglect to explain that the NIV is often interpretive more than translative (if that’s a word!) We can use any English translation if we understand its limitations, and not be propagating “new age” versions.

So for all you KJV Onlyers, lighten up! There are a lot more serious issues to be addressed, such as cultic and other false teachings. It isn’t usually the particular English version which leads to false teachings, it is the misuse of the Bible in general.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Episcopals Can't Understand Scripture! Follow Up

On June 10th I noted that the Episcopal Church was preparing "a paper on same-sex relationships in the life of the church." Well, the deal is now done.

The following is from TimesOnLine today
(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6716407.ece) [1/6/12- link is gone]

Bishops in the US dealt a death blow to hopes for unity in the worldwide Anglican Church when they approved in principle services for same-sex partnerships. The decision will finally split the Communion between Bible-based conservative evangelicals and liberal modernisers.

The bishops at the Episcopal General Convention voted by 104 to 30 to “collect and develop theological resources and liturgies” for blessing same-sex relationships, to be considered at the next convention in 2012.

The resolution notes the growing number of states that allow gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, and gives bishops in those regions discretion to provide a “generous pastoral response” to couples in local parishes. It was passed on Wednesday, hours after the Episcopal Church voted on Tuesday to allow the consecration of gay bishops. The motion passed by 99 to 45 among the bishops and by 72 per cent to 28 per cent among church deputies, made up of clergy and laity.

As I have stated previously, the Episcopal Church is nothing short of apostate and should be abandoned by all true Christians in that denomination.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Don't Have Enough Faith to be a Humanist

I read a book about 15 years ago, titled, “The Philosophy of Humanism,” by Corliss Lamont. It is considered “the standard text on the subject.” I got to thinking about this book recently and pulled it down to look over some things I had highlighted in it.

Let me share some things I came across, and you’ll notice these guys need a lot more faith in their religion than do Christians.

“There are, as I see it, ten central propositions in the Humanist philosophy: First, Humanism believes in a naturalistic metaphysics or attitude toward the universe that considers all forms of the supernatural as myth; and that regards Nature as the totality of being and as constantly changing system of matter and energy which exists independently of any mind or consciousness. Second, Humanism, drawing especially upon the laws and facts of science, believes man is an evolutionary product of the Nature of which he is part; that his mind is indivisibly conjoined with the functioning of his brain; and that as an inseparable unity of body and personality he can have no conscious survival after death.”

Notice “Nature” is capitalized! Nature is their god, and evolution is the power of their god. Sort of reminds me of Romans 1:25. Nevertheless, it never ceases to amaze me how these guys make assertions about the mind - something that is immaterial and spiritual - when no one has ever observed it!

Further in the book Lamont makes this bold assertion: “I believe that the facts of science offer overwhelming evidence in support of the Humanist thesis of the inseparable coexistence of body and personality. To begin with, biology has conclusively shown that man and all other forms of life were the result, not of a supernatural act of creation by God, but of an infinitely long process of evolution probably stretching over at least three billions years….” I would really like to see these scientific “facts” that Lamont speaks of!

Lamont makes a lot of these sorts of assertions throughout the book, never once providing evidence for his beliefs, rather it is just because he says so that you are supposed to accept his ideas. Especially in his chapter titled, “This Life is All and Enough.” Well, he also does a lot of that in chapter IV, “Humanism’s Theory of the Universe,” which you can well imagine is 100% evolutionist silliness. Here’s his first bold assertion in this chapter:

“Humanism believes that Nature itself constitutes the sum total of reality…and that supernatural entities simply do not exist. This nonreality of the supernatural means, on the human level, that men do not possess supernatural and immortal souls; and, on the level of the universe as a whole, that our cosmos does not possess a supernatural and eternal God.”

Later Lamont says, “the scientific concept of evolution…effectively negates the old religious idea of a divine creation of the whole universe.” The interesting thing about this is that all the atheistic evolutionists see the incompatibility of evolution with Christianity, but too many Christians think they can merge the two together.

“Matter is self-existent, self-active, self-developing, self-enduring. It is auto-dynamic.” Wow, this sounds like attributes of God, doesn‘t it? So where does matter get all this power and thought process?

Oh, and is there such thing as “Truth” to the humanist? “A careful analysis of both the natural and the social sciences shows, in the first place, that we do not attain something that is to be called ‘absolute’ truth, but rather what John Dewey cautiously describes as ‘warranted assertibility’” So, I wonder, is THAT absolutely true? Does that mean nothing Lamont wrote can be true?

Of course there is no good or bad either: “For Humanism no human acts are good or bad in or of themselves. Whether an act is good or bad is to be judged by the consequences for the individual and society.” So society determines what actions are good or bad? This lets the Nazis off the hook, since as a society they decided exterminating Jews was good.

Ah, but it gets better: “The Humanist refuses to accept any Ten Commandments or other ethical precepts as immutable and universal laws never to be challenged or questioned. He bows down to no alleged supreme moral authority either past or present. … But we can say…some ends justify some means. In getting at the ethical significance of a means-end situation, it is always necessary to be specific and inquire, ‘Does this particular end or set of ends justify this particular means or group of means?’”

Religious Humanism has Nature for a god and evolution for their god’s power. (Or is Matter their god since it already has the power in and of itself?) It has no truth, no innate good or evil, and no moral standard other than what the individual believes is right or wrong. Do your really want one of these guys as your next-door neighbor or the leader of your country?

I’d suggest a re-reading of Romans 1:18-32. And remember Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

God's View of Polygamy

The idea for this post came about for two reasons: 1) The Mormons still have D&C 132 in their Scripture and it says every man must have more than one wife for exaltation. 2) When discussing same-sex marriage I often point out that redefining marriage would include legalizing polygamy, and sometimes the response is, "What's wrong with that?"

While the Old Testament tells of many persons who have more than one wife, the Bible gives no evidence that God has ever sanctioned this practice. God’s view of marriage was established at the very beginning when He instituted the relationship (all Scripture is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible):

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. Then the LORD God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. And the man said, "This one, at last, is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called woman, for she was taken from man." This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:21-24

Notice that God gave Adam only one wife, with the intent that two become one, not three or four, etc.

The Bible’s first mention of polygamy is in reference to Cain’s son Lamech in Gen. 4:19. Cain was the sinful man who was marked, and his sons learned his wickedness. From that point on it became cultural for some of fallen man to become polygamous. But notice that when God saved Noah and his wife, and their sons and their wives, they were all monogamous; if God felt the need for plural wives to propagate the earth, He would have given them more before sending them aboard the ark.

As sinful man began to multiply many men of means became polygamous (the average man didn’t, because it took wealth to support more than one wife). However, when Moses led Israel out of Egypt and God’s laws were brought forth, one thing God made a point of was that, when Israel wanted an earthly king he was to be of higher character than the average man. Of him God said, He must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won't go astray. Deut. 17:17.

In the Proverbs we have a couple passages to consider. In the first the context is keeping away from women who are not one’s wife.

...take pleasure in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful fawn - let her breasts satisfy you; be lost in her love forever. Prov. 5:18b-19. Notice that the writer did not say “wives of your youth,” the implication being that there is only one. And it is that one wife who is to satisfy the man, that he be “ravished with her love.” (KJV)

The next passage is among many general proverbs:

A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Prov. 18:22 Again notice that the proverb does not say “who finds wives finds a good thing,” the implication again being that a good thing is one wife.

Ecclesiastes has one passage that can shed some light also. Chapter 9, verse 9 says, Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life.... Again the word is “wife” and not “wives.”

Proverbs and Ecclesiastes both approach the marital relationship from the viewpoint of one wife.

In the New Testament Jesus discussed marriage and how the Jews messed up the original plan. He gave the following teaching:

"Haven't you read," He replied, "that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female, and He also said: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate." Matt. 19:4-6  Notice that Jesus refers right back to Genesis to demonstrate the one man/one woman desire of God.

We can next look at what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:2: But because of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. Notice that Paul did not say “wives” or “husbands”; the meaning is clear that each man is to have but one wife.

When Paul was laying down qualifications for Elders and Deacons, part of the qualification of their character was that they only had one wife (harking back to God’s command for the king to have but one wife):
1 Tim. 3:2 An overseer, therefore must be above reproach, the husband of one wife...
1 Tim. 3:12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife...
Tit. 1:5b-6 ...appoint elders in every town, someone who is blameless, the husband of one wife...

So God’s law has always been one wife per man, but He permitted polygamy as he permits divorce; neither is the original intent for marriage. The depiction of plural marriages in the Bible always show marital troubles, which is expected to happen because women are not wired to share their man!

UPDATE 9/29/16:
The following is a footnote on p.109 of the book, The Way of a Man with a Maid, by Robin Phillips.  I thought it was a good summation of what my article says. 

While polygamy is not forbidden in the Old Testament, the implication can be drawn that monogamy was still God’s ideal from verses such as Ps. 28; Prov. 12:4; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-31; Is. 62:5.  “…because God created just one woman for Adam, the pattern of monogamy is clearly set and displayed to us.  The polygamy found in the Old Testament among the saints of God does not alter this.  Polygamy was instituted by man, and not by God.  The first record of a polygamous union was Lamech (Gen 4:19), with no hint of divine approval.  But most important, polygamy does not fit with the creation ordinance of marriage or with the picture given in the New Testament of Christ and the church.”  Douglas Wilson, Reforming Marriage (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1995), pp. 16-17.