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, March 27, 2012

A New Bible for Liberals

Jimmy Carter, arguably the worst President the United States ever had (until trumped by President Obama), has authored his own “study” Bible.  Using the New International Version as the text, this new “study” Bible is titled, “Lessons From Life Bible,” with “Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter.”
This Bible uses “Mr. Carter’s years of teaching Sunday school lessons at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, GA, and meshes them with the text of the NIV Bible.”  Zondervan’s website 
has this synopsis:  “The NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter hardcover is just that: the legacy of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has been teaching directly from the Bible for over 65 years and has taken the Bible’s teachings seriously, implementing them into his life’s work. Now he shares his own insights and life lessons with you, opening up the Scripture in a new and fresh way.” 
This is the same Jimmy Carter who several years ago said that Mormons should be considered as part of the Christian community, and that the Southern Baptist denomination was wrong to say that the Mormon church is a cult.  I wrote a personal letter to Mr. Carter at the time, explaining why Mormons weren’t Christians, but he never responded to me.
So what can we expect from the “study” notes in this Bible?  I think we can glean Mr. Carter’s theology from a recent interview he had with the Huffington Post (now remember, this is a man who teaches “directly from the Bible” and takes “the Bible’s teachings seriously”). 
HP:  Did God write the Bible?
Carter:  God inspired the Bible but didn’t write every word in the Bible. We know, for instance that stars can’t fall on the earth, stars are much larger than the earth. That was a limitation of knowledge of the universe or physics, or astronomy at that time, but that doesn’t bother me at all.
My comment:  Do we not call meteors “falling stars”? 
HP:  How do you approach the passages in the Bible that talk about God’s creation (Genesis 1:1) while maintaining a positive attitude towards science?
Carter:  I happen to have an advantage there because I am a nuclear physicist by training and a deeply committed Christian. I don’t have any doubt in my own mind about God who created the entire universe. But I don’t adhere to passages that so and so was created 4000 years before Christ, and things of that kind. Today we have shown that the earth and the stars were created millions, even billions, of years before.
My comment:  So he is a nuclear physicist and that gives him knowledge over God?  We have definitely NOTshown that the earth and the stars were created millions, even billions, of years before.”; this is all speculation and theories from a materialistic, evolutionist worldview without facts.  By this statement, Carter dismisses the divine inspiration of Scripture by saying Genesis 1 is a lie.
HP:  What do you say to those who point to certain scriptures that women should not teach men or speak in church? (1 Corinthians 1:14)
Carter:  I separated from the Southern Baptists when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women, because I believe what Paul taught in Galatians that there is no distinction in God’s eyes between men and women, slaves and masters, Jews and non-Jews -– everybody is created equally in the eyes of God.  There are some things that were said back in those days –- Paul also said that women should not be adorned, fix up their hair, put on cosmetics, and that every woman who goes in a place of worship should have her head covered. Paul also said that men should not cut their beards and advocated against people getting married, except if they couldn’t control their sexual urges. Those kinds of things applied to the customs of those days. Every worshipper has to decide if and when they want those particular passages to apply to them and their lives.
My comments: Where do I start?!  It is NOT adiscriminatory attitude towards women” which says there are roles in the Church which are to only be filled by men.  Paul gave reasons (1 Cor. 14:33b-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-12) which relate to the creative order and stated that his teachings on the subject were for all churches everywhere.  Women are not to be in authority over men or teach them in the assembly.  Having different roles doe not make women unequal to men.  Carter’s abuse of Galatians is typical of those promoting the feminist agenda.  Were priests more equal than the laymen in God’s eyes in the Old Testament?  No, they just had a different role.  Paul did NOT say that women were not to be adorned, etc, rather he said for them to dress modestly, and the examples he gave of what not to do were examples of ostentatiousness (1 Tim. 29-10).  Peter also mentioned adornment when he said that should not be where their beauty comes from (1 Pet. 3:3-4), again appealing to modesty and humility.  Nor did Paul say a woman should have her head covered upon entering a place of worship (1 Cor. 11).  What he said was that a woman should have her head covered if she is prophesying or praying audibly in public, but at the same time he said that a man should NOT have his head covered during such occasions.  The instruction was for symbolic reasons, which were never revoked.  I don’t remember Paul ever saying a man should not cut his beard - I think this “experienced” Sunday School teacher is mixing up O.T. laws for Israel with Paul’s teachings.  Paul’s advice about singleness was only that if one was single they would not be distracted from service to the Lord, but that each one should decide for themselves; Paul was not against marriage.
HP:  A lot of people point to the Bible for reasons why gay people should not be in the church, or accepted in any way.
Carter:  Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.  ... if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine.
My comment:  Jesus also didn’t mention child abuse, pedophilia, wife beating, bestiality, etc, so I guess he was okay with those?  Christ, being God, had plenty so say about homosexuality in the O.T. and soundly condemned it.  (Notice the behavior is condemned rather than an “orientation.”).  While Christ did indeed address marriage, referring back to Adam and Eve as what marriage was, Carter sanctions same-sex unions, as does his church.
HP:  Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). How can you remain true to an exclusivist faith claim while respecting other faith traditions?
Carter:  Jesus also taught that we should not judge other people (Matthew 7:1), and that it is God who judges people, so I am willing to let God make those judgments, in the ultimate time whenever it might come. I think ‘judge not that you be not judged’ is the best advice that I will follow. ... There are many verses in the Bible that you could interpret very rigidly and that makes you ultimately into a fundamentalist. When you think you are better than anybody else -- that you are closer to God than other people, and therefore they are inferior to you and subhuman -- that leads to conflict and hatred and dissonance among people when we should be working for peace.
My comments:  Typical of liberals, Carter abuses the Matthew 7 passage.  The context is that we shouldn’t judge hypocritically, which is why He states a few verses later that we can judge the other as long as we’ve judged ourselves first by the same standards.  Throughout the Bible we are told to make right judgments.  Then Carter makes “fundamentalist” a disparaging adjective.  Well, if I’m in an airplane, I certainly want a fundamentalist pilot, and when I have my taxes done, I pay a fundamentalist CPA.  Making right judgments is what God wants us to do, and it is a non sequitur to say that this makes one feel better than others.  Carter in this very response is making judgments. But notice that Carter never really answered the question.
Albert Mohler also recently interviewed Carter [link gone by 12/15/16] and received some similar responses.  Here are some comments by Carter which were not similar to the Huffington Post’s article:
Carter: I personally believe, maybe contrary to many of your listeners, that homosexuality is ingrained in a person’s character and is not something they adopt and can abandon at will. So I know that what I’ve just explained to you might be somewhat controversial, but it’s the way I feel.
My comment:  So without any medical or scientific evidence for his position, and only going on his personal feelings, Mr. Carter has decided that homosexuality is ingrained even though plenty of evidence proves it is not.
Mohler: Mr. President, in terms of the gospel itself, one of the issues you’ve written about of late has been your concern about how it’s interpreted. In terms of the question, “Must someone come to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ to be saved?”, and in a couple of your books, you suggested that you’re not ready to say that, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth. What is your understanding of the gospel and the necessity of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Carter: I believe it is necessary, and I teach that every Sunday in my classes that it is necessary for full salvation and acceptance before God to believe in Jesus Christ. The question then comes up, though, “However, how about the people that don’t know about Christ? How about the ones to whom Christians, evangelicals, have never reached or given them the message?” And I don’t feel constrained, Dr. Mohler, to condemn those people as lost or as going to hell, and I rationalize it, perhaps, in using theological terms, in using biblical terms, by Jesus’ admonishment that we should not judge other people, but let God be the Judge. So, in a quandary like that about people who don’t know about Christ, what would be their fate? I’m inclined to believe that they will not be condemned or punished by God.
My comment: So, according to Carter’s teaching, it would really be better if I never heard about Christ because then I “will not be condemned or punished by God.”  I wonder where he finds support for this in Scripture?
Carter: ... I feel very strongly, in the eyes of God, women are equal to men and to choose the particular passages that say that women have to be subservient to men and that they should not teach men and boys, I think it contrary to the basic thrust of what Christ meant and said. ... I believe in complete equality. My wife happens to be a deacon in our little church in Plains that I’ve described already. We have two pastors—one is a man and one is his wife. They both are ordained, and I participated in the ordination.  So I believe that throughout religious faith that women should be treated equally with men....
My comment:  While this has similar comments to the other interview, I want to point out that Carter makes a false charge that these biblical passages make women “subservient to men.”  Nor does any passage say that women shouldn’t teach boys!  His wife being a deacon in his church, and his church having a female pastor, demonstrates the liberal position of his assembly.  Which is why they approve of homosexuality!
I would say that reading Carter’s various liberal views, I think we know what to expect in the way of his commentary in this new Bible: it will be supportive of all social gospel teachings, the feminist agenda, and the homosexual agenda.
Just what we need - a new liberal study Bible.   Zondervan continues its best to pollute the Christian faith.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What If You Are Wrong About God?

Extremes begin with small detours.  A small detour from the biblical doctrine of God and we are on our way to full-blown heresy.  If we are wrong about God, we will be wrong about everything else.
G. Richard Fisher, “And I shall Be As God”, The Quarterly Journal, April-June 2012

Do We “Fall” Into Sin?

I was talking to someone yesterday about Christians who were re-building their marriage after one was caught in an adulterous relationship.  A comment was made about how the woman “fell” into adultery, and that we can all “fall” into an egregious sin.  The thought hit me at that moment that Christians are using the wrong terminology: no one “falls” into into sin - they walk into it!
When someone “falls” it is an accident.  Sins such as sexual immorality are not accidents - they are the consummation of following temptations.
Look at what James 1:14-15 says:  But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.  Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. (HCSB)
No, we don’t “fall” into sin - we voluntarily walk into sin by following the temptation where it leads.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

Last week I came across an interesting article about “Why Impostors Love the Church.”  It’s thought-provoking, and anyone who has witness such phenomena can heartily agree with the author’s conclusions.

Last week I was asked to research Andrew Wommack, to see if he was a teacher people should be following.  Well, I came across quite a bit of information demonstrating the answer to be “NO.”  The man is just another Word of Father goatherd.  While he does seem to have some good teachings (I looked over his site), his WOF theology takes him out of the running for any teacher I would recommend.  The Christian Research Institute has a good review of Wommack and his dangers.
Meanwhile, Harold Camping has admitted he sinned with his prophetic claims.  Too bad he doesn’t repent of his other false teachings.

The Roman Catholic Church seems to be often good for amusement: they had an exhibition of relics this past weekend.  If you ever felt the need to “venerate” phony relics to “bring you closer to God,” you missed this one.  If you really believe what they displayed are pieces of the Cross and the crown of thorns Jesus wore, then let me tell you about the Cardiff Giant.
It never ceases to amaze me that Christians will participate in some of the worst of entertainment.  I personally know some Christian families who are letting their children read “The Hunger Games” series, as well as heading for the movie version.  I didn’t know anything about this subject until reading a review by Berit Kjos, and I find it difficult to justify as entertainment for Christians.  And I thought it was bad enough that Christians found the “Twilight” series worthy of their time and money!
The controversy about what Rick Warren is or isn’t doing by coddling Islam is still a big topic.  What I have learned is that the evidence proves Warren is not very truthful in some of his denials.  Sola Sisters has an interesting chart I recommend for your viewing.  Two days later Ken Silva had a good post on the same subject, and I trust you will agree that Warren is trying his best to cover his wolf-tracks.

Robert Schuller has long been one of the rankest heretics posing as a Christian, and his family pretty much holds to his self-esteem gospel.  I came across an interesting video this week, showing Schuller’s daughter Sheila giving a talk.  I didn’t realize she was one of the Crystal Cathedral’s pastors, but I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise.  She is now going to start her own church! Just what we need, another heretical assembly.
Today’s report will end with three good apologetics articles I recommend for your perusal:
1.  Marsha West has an excellent article about the Word of Faith movement, including a wee bit of exposing Joel Osteen as an example of such false teachers.  What I really like about the article is that she isn’t afraid to “name names.”  Take a look at her list if you want to see the movers and shakers in the WOF cult, and stay away from them!

2.  Stan over at “Winging It” has a good article on discerning the wolves in sheep’s clothing.  

3.  Apprising Ministries has an outstanding article about why women pastors are unbiblical.  I think the fact that every church with women pastors (ELCA, Episcopal, UMC, PCUSA, et al) goes liberal in their theology should be evidence enough, but feminists don’t want to accept what God has to say.  They’d rather claim it was just a patriarchal system of the culture which Paul was talking about, or perhaps Paul was the problem and came up with the teaching himself.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The State of the Church

The March issue of The Berean Call had a good article about the state of the Church today and what we can expect for the next generation.  The article, by T.A. McMahon, can be summed up in these paragraphs:
During the last three decades, many have experienced Christianity in church settings that major in entertainment rather than in teaching the Scriptures and discipling those who attend. Thus, they are the products of years of church-growth marketing schemes that have attempted to fill pews with the "unchurched" and keep them coming back by using consumer-oriented tactics. It's a "keep the customer happy," seeker-friendly approach that has critically diluted biblical content as churches compete with the world in order to interest their youth. The game rooms of some mega-churches could put to shame their cities' most popular arcades. The marketing mentality of "do whatever it takes to attract and keep the kids coming back to church" reflects a "bait and switch" scheme, and in most situations the "bait" (games, music that mimics the world, and entertainment) overwhelms the intended "switch" (learning the Bible). That endeavor has both trivialized and marginalized the instruction of the Word of God for those who have been subjected to that worldly approach. The outcome has resulted in a shallow Christianity for millions of young professing Christians....
The Lord willing, in part two [in April] we will address specifically some of the more serious issues that have already led multitudes off course from God's Word and have shipwrecked the faith of many. Those turbulent waters feature the unbiblical "self" teachings, such as self-esteem and self-love; the fear of being considered intolerant; the desire to be accepted and respected by the world. These times also exhibit gross lack of discernment by churches and individuals who allow community and relationships to overshadow biblical truth; who buy into the pseudo-sciences of evolution and psychotherapy; who appear to have an inability to recognize the heresies of the emerging church movement, the contemplative movement, and mystical and occult practices, the word-faith and healing and prosperity movement, and the inner-healing movement. There is a lack of understanding regarding Replacement Theology; the rise of anti-Semitism within the church; yoga in the church; the false gospel and anti-biblical dogmas of Roman Catholicism; and no apparent concern regarding the errors of the youth-oriented para-church organizations; the misdirected propensity to help others by means of a social gospel, eliminating social injustice, and other programs that lead to "works salvation."
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, his spiritual son in the faith and one of the pastoral leaders of the generation that would succeed his own, these sobering words of warning:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

In addition to the warning, he also gave Timothy instructions for helping to correct those things that would take place and would draw believers away from God's truth:

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season [always be ready!]; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine [hang in there with the teachings of Scripture].” (2 Timothy 4:2)

That's the simple solution to anchor a generation adrift: simple, as in "not complex." Yet neither is it easy--it demands discipline and diligence.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

I am currently working on an article on Henry Blackaby, which I was hoping to be finished with by now for posting, but time has a way of getting away from me!  So today I’m giving you another episode of random things I’ve read on the ‘net.

There has been a lot going on in the blogosphere about Rick Warren and his compromising with Islam.  Information has been changing and updating almost daily.  The main point is that Warren has already compromised with Islam, and now seems to be going even farther.  I will provide links to four of the latest articles for your perusal and challenge you to follow the story as it unravels.   The first one is from Sola Sisters blog, while the second, third and fourth are from Apprising Ministries.  Personally, I think Warren is being less than honest about the situation.
Mark Driscoll revisited.  The man has sex on the brain.  World Net Daily posted a commentary by David Kupelian about Driscolls obsession with sex.  Driscoll has even been interviewed, with his wife, on The View, a TV show NO Christian should sanction by appearing on.  Yet the Driscolls went on the show to discuss their book Real Marriage.  I just don’t understand why any mature Christian would listen to this man.

An “Open Letter to Praise Bands” has been the topic of several blogs I follow.  I think the author has a lot of good things to say.  Here is the most important section, which should be given much attention:

1. If we, the congregation, can't hear ourselves, it's not worship. Christian worship is not a concert. In a concert (a particular "form of performance"), we often expect to be overwhelmed by sound, particularly in certain styles of music. In a concert, we come to expect that weird sort of sensory deprivation that happens from sensory overload, when the pounding of the bass on our chest and the wash of music over the crowd leaves us with the rush of a certain aural vertigo. And there's nothing wrong with concerts! It's just that Christian worship is not a concert. Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice--and the gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship. It is a way of "performing" the reality that, in Christ, we are one body. But that requires that we actually be able to hear ourselves, and hear our sisters and brothers singing alongside us. When the amped sound of the praise band overwhelms congregational voices, we can't hear ourselves sing--so we lose that communal aspect of the congregation and are encouraged to effectively become "private," passive worshipers.
2. If we, the congregation, can't sing along, it's not worship. In other forms of musical performance, musicians and bands will want to improvise and "be creative," offering new renditions and exhibiting their virtuosity with all sorts of different trills and pauses and improvisations on the received tune. Again, that can be a delightful aspect of a concert, but in Christian worship it just means that we, the congregation, can't sing along. And so your virtuosity gives rise to our passivity; your creativity simply encourages our silence. And while you may be worshiping with your creativity, the same creativity actually shuts down congregational song.
3.  If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it's not worship. I know it's generally not your fault that we've put you at the front of the church. And I know you want to model worship for us to imitate. But because we've encouraged you to basically import forms of performance from the concert venue into the sanctuary, we might not realize that we've also unwittingly encouraged a sense that you are the center of attention. And when your performance becomes a display of your virtuosity--even with the best of intentions--it's difficult to counter the temptation to make the praise band the focus of our attention. When the praise band goes into long riffs that you might intend as "offerings to God," we the congregation become utterly passive, and because we've adopted habits of relating to music from the Grammys and the concert venue, we unwittingly make you the center of attention. I wonder if there might be some intentional reflection on placement (to the side? leading from behind?) and performance that might help us counter these habits we bring with us to worship.
I don’t know about you, but I am really tired of all these books purporting to be about visits to heaven.  Not a single one has anything biblical in them, yet Christians buy these books by the boat-load!  Sola Sisters has posted an article about an interview between Brannon Howse and Justin Peters discussing this topic.  Additionally, DiscernIt blog has posted an article by David Cloud which discusses other claims of trips to heaven by Word of Faith heretics.  The main thing to remember is that any claim to visit heaven is a blatant lie.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Test All Teaching

We must constantly test all teaching and all tradition by the Word of God, obeying what is of God and rejecting what is of men.  At first a man may teach and preach a clear, scriptural message, gaining acceptance among Bible-believing people.  Having gained this acceptance, he begins to add some human teaching.  His devoted followers who have come to feel that he can do no wrong follow him blindly, even if his message blunts the sharp edge of the Word or waters down its clear meaning.
William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, Mark 7:20-23.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Did They Really Say That?

Death entered the world because of transgression.  But Christ gave his life that man should have another trial.  He did not die on the cross to abolish the law of God, but to secure for a man a second probation.
Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers, p.134
I sincerely hope that I am not the only one who sees a problem with this teaching.  How does this compare with Colossians 2:13-14? And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses.  He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. (HCSB) This passage plainly says that there is no longer an obligation to the law, and that we have no other “trial” to undergo.
What about 2 Corinthians 6:2? “Now is the day of salvation.”  (HCSB)  Does this sound like we have a “second probation” or “another trial”?
The entire message of the New Testament is that Christ died to free us from slavery to the Law, and that his atonement finished the job - not that it only initiated a way for more trials and probations.  “It is finished” was the cry Jesus made on the Cross.  The gospel of the Seventh-day Adventists is “another gospel” which Paul speaks of in Galatians chapter one.  And E.G. White, who brought this gospel, was a false prophet.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Scars vs Grandstand Tickets

As long as the church wore scars, they made headway.  When they began to wear medals, the cause languished.  It was a greater day for the church when Christians were fed to the lions than when they bought season tickets and sat in the grandstand.”
Vance Havner, quoted by J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Maturity, p.110, as cited by William MacDonald, “Believer’s Bible Commentary,” Mark 4:30-32.