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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Evangelism and Apologetics

Evangelism and apologetics are twin pillars upon which the outreach of the church is built.  The two may be and must be distinguished, but they ought never be separated.  They form a two-pronged attack against the fortress of hell and a double-front of defense against the onslaught of paganism... In history the task of apologetics has progressed to include both the defense of the Gospel against the attacks of alien philosophies and religions, and the positive construction of full-fledged Christian philosophy.  In this regard apologetics serves the church not only in pre-evangelism, but in post-evangelism as well.  It helps the believer counter the objections that are faced in a myriad of settings.  It arms and equips the saints for the task of ministry.  God has ordained both evangelism and apologetics, and the obedient church is faithful to both tasks.
R.C. Sproul, Tabletalk.  Cited in Worldviews, the Newsletter of the Apologetics Resource Center, May/June 2004

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Entertaining the Goats

This by A.W. Tozer; you'd think he was seeing today's seeker-sensitive, market-driven and emergent movements.
Without biblical authority, or any other right under the sun, carnal religious leaders have introduced a host of attractions that serve no purpose except to provide entertainment for the retarded saints
It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction.  It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God.  One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments. ...
Any objection to the carryings on of our present gold-calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning them!”  And winning them to what?  To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world?  To crucifixion of the flesh?  To holy living?  To nobility of character?  To a despising of the world’s treasures?  To hard self-discipline?  To love for God?  To total committal to Christ?  Of course the answer to all these questions is no.
(Man: The Dwelling Place of God, p.136)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Movie Guide is Dishonest

When I am interested in seeing a movie, one of the first things I do is check out what Plugged In has to say about it.  I also like to check Debbie Schlussel’s reviews because they are from a conservative, yet non-Christian viewpoint.

Another review site I learned about a long time ago is Movie Guide, founded by Dr. Ted Baehr.  I don’t know how I got on his e-mail list, but now and then I get something from him which 99% of the time I just delete without looking at.  So I’ve never gone to Movie Guide for reviews in the past.
Movie Guide is ostensibly a Christian review site, so I would expect it to be accurate and not misrepresent movies it reviews.  But I learned yesterday that this isn’t the case.
I took my wife to watch the movie, “Brave.”  It was a fun movie, but like virtually all movies there was ideology presented which would be contradictory to Christianity.  (But so is just about everything in the world!)  However, in regards to marriage it was just fine.  The story began with the princess being subjected to having local men vie for her hand in betrothal by a engaging in a contest.  She is not happy with the idea of this type of marriage arrangement and actually contrives to win her own hand in the contest.   The girl is just not interested in this sort of marriage!  At the end of the movie we learn that love will be the new way of choosing one’s mate, and that if someone wants to win a woman’s hand, they must first win her heart.  Sounded like a good idea to me.
However, when I arrived home I had an email from Mr. Baehr linking to a “review” of the movie, and the review had the headline, “BRAVE Attacks Marriage Hastening Demographic Winter.”  This, of course, piqued my interest.  Here is how the article began:
The movie BRAVE tells the story of a young princess in Scotland who will do anything not to get married, including go to a witch to cast a heinous spell on her own mother who is the Queen. This self-defeating and unnatural message is being pushed by Pixar and the Walt Disney Company at a time when Europe is facing demographic winter. This is very irresponsible.
Several of us have just returned from speaking and teaching in Europe. In many countries, marriage is dismissed and demeaned. As a result, the very survival of these people groups is in question.
The review then went on to cite an article about the lack of births in Europe and the problem of declining marriage and families.  It had absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the movie.  The “review” then ended thusly:
The action steps that parents need to take is to be careful about letting their daughters and sons be infected by the messages of BRAVE, and to contact Walt Disney Company and Pixar and ask them to be more careful about their productions for children.
It then ended with the people and addresses of Disney and Pixar.
Well, this was a blatant misrepresentation of what the movie presented about marriage.  Did the movie have some other ideological problems?  YES, albeit fairly minor.  Did the “review” address any other issue?  NO.  It just claimed the movie attacked marriage.
So I e-mailed Mr. Baehr the following:
Did you guys even watch the movie?  I just came back from watching it and you are making something up that wasn't there.  The girl was NOT against marriage - she was against forced marriage to someone chosen by family or won in a contest.  Yes, it was revisionist history in that regard, and a subtle feminist slant having her being so "macho," but if you watched the movie to the end the point was made that they should have the right to pick their OWN mates based on love, and the guys were told to win her heart before they could win her hand.  And you have the audacity to say the movie attacked marriage?!?!
I would say this is a good example of bearing false witness.
I agree I was a bit abrupt and frank, but having just come from the movie and knowing this was supposedly a “Christian” review, I felt a bit peeved that they would lie in that fashion.
Mr. Baehr replied as follows:
“I agree to disagree and Thank you so much!”
Okay, I just told him of the blatant error from my personal observation of a movie (by the way, Plugged In agreed with me) and his response was that it was just a disagreement.  That’s sort of like calling someone’s answer for two plus two being “five” a “disagreement”!  There are facts that must be considered, not just an opinion.
So I posted back:
Agree to disagree?!?!?!  You lie about what the movie is saying and call it a disagreement?
The movie NEVER attacked marriage.  The girl didn't want to marry some guy who won her in a contest.  The end of the movie she will wait to marry someone for love.  How in the blazes is that attacking marriage?!?!
His response:
Your accusations are specious and ridiculous
BRAVE is Rousseauian and anthropocentric
& she whines constantly while calling upon a witch to follow her heart - shades of Anton LaVey and Aleister Crowley.
If you want to discuss, civily, Please call me at my office at 805-383-2000  on Monday.
You are in my praise and prayers
The only accusation I made was that the review lied about the movie, and it certainly wasn’t “specious and ridiculous” because I gave the facts.  His other charges against the movie had nothing to do with the “review” or my complaint.
I responded:
I am not calling you, and I am discussing this civily.
I don't care about all those other problems with the movie - that wasn't what your link addressed.  
The point is that you LIED and claimed it attacked marriage.  The girl wants to choose her mate and not have her mate chosen for her, and you call that attacking marriage!
I suggest you change that charge.  Charge the movie with true and accurate problems - don't make up something not in it.  As a Christian you are supposed to set an example for integrity.
The last communication from Baehr was simply:
You are wrong.
Today I watched the video review by Mr. Baehr and he did even more misrepresentation - he said she consorted with a witch to change her mother into a bear; the girl only asked her to change her mother - and the idea was to make her change her mind!  The girl had no idea what the witch had in mind.  Baehr also stated it was “very feminist,” which it wasn’t.  Were there some feminist leanings?  Yes, but mostly subtle - not “very feminist.” 

Here is the issue:  A supposed Christian movie review site falsely accuses a movie of attacking marriage and when the accusation was proven to be in error there was no desire to correct the misrepresentation; instead the person in charge stated that I was the one in error.
Since this organization demonstrates a lack of integrity in such a simple matter, I could never recommend it as a source of information about movies.  How do I know every review doesn’t have false representations so as to promote an agenda?
False teachers aren’t just in the realm of theology - they are also in the realm of culture.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What Kind of God?

Sometimes I have been asked why theism - the idea of one God - is true and other ideas of a god aren’t.  After all, there are only three theistic religions in the world (Jewish, Christian, Islam) and myriads of other types, so why should theism be the correct view?
This can be answered using logic and philosophy to first show that other types of religions have problems with being true, and that, to start with, only a theistic religion can be true - a religion that has a God beyond and within the world, a God that is both creator and sustainer.  Other religions are consider to be “theistic” in that they believe in some sort of god or gods.  Theistic religions can be classified as deism, pantheism, panentheism and, of course, theism.  I will only highlight some of the problems that disprove these first three viewpoints.
Deism:   Says that there is a God who alone is eternal, and who created the world and then walked away from it so that the world operates by natural and self-sustaining laws that He put into existence.  A deist says that the supernatural does not exist, that miracles do not occur.  This position is inadequate and illogical.  If they admit to the miracle of creation, then they have to accept the possibility of other miracles.  And if God was concerned enough to create man, it would follow that He would be concerned enough about man as to intervene personally.
Pantheism:   Says that all is God and God is all; that God is the world, is us, etc.  Hinduism and other Eastern and so-called New Age religions profess this, and this idea is promoted as the “Force“ in Star Wars.  There are actually several types of pantheism, some of which devolve into polytheism.  He is not a personal god and is more “it” than “him.”  
The very quick way to demonstrate the self-defeating aspect of this system is that  if God is unknowable and inexpressible by language or thought, then how do they know and express this about God? 
Another way to demonstrate that it is self-defeating is to point out that, in this view “God is and I am not,” that is, God is all that is.  But one must exist in order to claim they don’t exist!  And if all there is, is God, then there is no I-thou relationships because there is only one entity.  Religious experience then becomes impossible.
This view also claims evil is only an illusion, but if that is the case, what is the source of the illusion?  This makes God the source of evil.
Pantheism’s god is dependent on creation; without creation the god doesn’t exist.  But then they have to explain where the creation came from.
Another problem is, by saying God is all, he must include opposites.  This then says nothing meaningful about him because he is and he isn’t.
Finally, there is a contradiction of God’s nature.  If he is infinite yet shares his being with creation then part of him is finite, which now makes him infinite and finite which is a logical impossibility.  This gets involved in philosophical arguments about contingent and necessary beings, which pantheism tries to make both at the same time.
Panentheism.  This is similar to Pantheism.  God is in the world the way a soul or mind is in a body.  A lot of New Age teachers promote this.  God is finite and limited.  There are two poles of God: an actual temporal pole and a potential eternal pole.  A form of this is also known as process theology because God is in a continual process of change.
A primary proof of falsehood is that the concept of God as an “eternal potential seeking temporal actualization” is self-defeating.  No potential can actualize itself.  And then there is the problem of evil: a finite god cannot guarantee the defeat of evil.
Theism.  Proving the other theistic belief systems false leaves us with theism.  It becomes the only adequate world view.  So once we determine theism is true, how do we prove that Christianity is true instead of Judaism and Islam?  If the Christian faith is true, then no other faith can be valid because Christ said that only through him can we get to the Father (John 14:6) and we are told that there is salvation in no one else (Acts 4:12).
Theism is the only logical system of believing in a god of any sort!
(Note:  I wrote this back in 2005 for use in our book-table ministry.  I used more than one book for reference, but the only one I remember is, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist,” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.  Because this was for personal use, I didn’t note what were quotations and what was my own writing and I know there were some quotations.  I have spent some time in a some books and can’t find where I got the information from, so if there are quotations without credit given, it is purely unintentional.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Can All Religions Live in Unity?

All religions living in unity is a farce.  “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)  There is no unity between contradicting beliefs no matter how long the two pretend to agree with their disagreement.  The result of this union only forces Christianity to abdicate principles vital to truth.
The very trap of the enemy is for Christians to lay aside truth in order to negotiate with other religions “on their terms.”  Other religions have no intentions of abdicating their beliefs.
Susan Seymour, Embracing Other Religions.  MCOI Journal, Spring 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why Apologetics?

If people are sharing their faith, they do not ask this question.  If people are truly encountering people in a meaningful way in friendship, ministry, evangelism, sooner or later they will encounter people’s barriers or objections to faith.
Christians themselves have the same questions as they are growing in the faith, even doubts.  We often suppress or try to deny those doubts because of fear or peer pressure.  So apologetics is for Christians to deepen their faith.
Apologetics has a decided offensive component as well.  We are clearly called to advance the kingdom of God as a fundamental task under the Lordship of Christ.  We are called to be about the process of redemption - of ourselves (sanctification), others (evangelism and ministry), and of the governing ideas of culture and institutions (2 Cor. 10:3-5, Mat. 5:13-16).
Clearly, the culture is in a death spiral and the Church needs to be awakened, equipped, and about the ministry of redemptive engagement.  That’s why this ministry[ARC] is here.  We return to the exhortations of Christian leaders.
Carl F. H. Henry wrote, “A marked deterioration in American society, indeed in Western society generally, has risen at the very time when evangelicals have been emerging from the subculture into the culture.  The implications of this fact are immensely important for Christian communication and apologetics generally and for every evangelical ministry.”
William Lane Craig wrote, “Moreover, it’s not just Christian scholars and pastors who need to be intellectually engaged with the issues.  Christian laymen, too, need to become intellectually engaged.  As Christians, their minds are going to waste.  ONe result of this is an immature, superficial faith.... The results of being in intellectual neutral extend far beyond oneself.  If Christian laymen don’t become intellectually engaged, then we are in serious danger of losing our children.  In high school and college Christian teenagers are intellectually assaulted on every hand by a barrage of anti-Christian philosophies and attitudes.”
Published on the first page of the Apologetics Resource Center May/June 2002 Newsletter.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thoughts from James Boice

The great hymns of the church are on the way out.  They are not gone entirely, but they are going.  And in their place have come trite jingles that have more in common with contemporary advertising ditties than the psalms.  The problem here is not so much the style of the music, though trite words fit best with trite tunes and harmonies.  Rather it is with the content of the songs.  The old hymns expressed the theology of the Bible in profound and perceptive ways and with winsome memorable language.  Today's songs are focused on ourselves.  They reflect our shallow or nonexistent theology and do almost nothing to elevate our thoughts about God.
Worst of all are songs that merely repeat a trite idea, word, or phrase over and over again.  Songs like this are not worship, though they may give the churchgoer a religious feeling.  They are mantras, which belong more in a gathering of New Agers than among the worshiping people of God.
Dr. James Montgomery Boice, quoted by Elisabeth Elliot Gren, 1998
cited in Cedar Rapids, Iowa Maranatha Bible Church newsletter, 2/98

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Christian Living

I found this to be an interesting description of Christians
But with us there is no desire of vainglory, nor do we indulge in a variety of opinions. For having renounced the popular and earthly, and obeying the commands of God, and following the law of the Father of immortality, we reject everything which rests upon human opinion. Not only do the rich among us pursue our philosophy, but the poor enjoy instruction gratuitously; for the things which come from God surpass the requital of worldly gifts. Thus we admit all who desire to hear, even old women and striplings; and, in short, persons of every age are treated by us with respect, but every kind of licentiousness is kept at a distance. And in speaking we do not utter falsehood. It would be an excellent thing if your continuance in unbelief should receive a check; but, however that may be, let our cause remain confirmed by the judgment pronounced by God. Laugh, if you please; but you will have to weep hereafter. ...  As for those who wish to learn our philosophy, we do not test them by their looks, nor do we judge of those who come to us by their outward appearance; for we argue that there may be strength of mind in all, though they may be weak in body. 
Address of Tatian the Assyrian (AD 110-172) to the Greeks, chapter 32, from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2.