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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Random Aberrations, Apostasies, and Heresies

Cults come in many “shapes, sizes and flavors.”  When they claim to be Christian, invariably they are very, very controlling, legalistic, and cause great harm to their followers.  Last week I was directed to this article from The Hollywood Reporter because of the experience actress Glenn Close testified about.  The account begins about half-way through the article, and is worth reviewing.

People who claim to be Christians, while at the same time teaching that God approves of homosexual behavior, are infiltrating the true Church to a very damaging effect.  Now these false teachers are having a conference in November for those of likemindedness, as well as for teaching such lies.  Look at the names and remember that these men are instruments of Satan rather than fellow Christians.

Chuck Swindoll has been going farther and farther away from sound doctrine, and this has been quite disappointing.  My first disappointment in him was his avid support for — and promotion of — Promise Keepers.  Over the years he has become more and more involved with mysticism and this becomes quite apparent his new book, “So You Want to Ne Like Christ?”  Lighthouse Trails Research Ministry addresses this book and more.

Four years ago I wrote an article about some problems with the teachings of the “Local Church” and Living Stream Ministries.  This past week I was directed to a post examining serious problems with their handling of the original Greek language of the New Testament.  It’s lengthy and deep, but it you have dealings with the group, then this article might be helpful.

Heretics who are staunch promoters of the social gospel and the liberal reinterpretation of the Bible are the ones who tend to get media attention.  Jim Wallis, of Sojourners, is one of these wolves who is actually a counselor to President Obama.  (Of course there are others of his ilk, such as the Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, both claiming to be “pastors.”)  These men are a blight on the name of Christian, and blaspheme God every time they claim the name.

The modern “evangelical” theme seems to be “relevance.”  Everywhere you look, there are Christian leaders who say we need to be “relevant” to the culture in order to bring people to the Lord.  (I wonder why Paul never had that problem?)  Of course “relevance” tends to be “contemporary” “worship music” and other “market-driven” entertainment and programs.  The whole idea of “relevance” has become a curse to the Church.

The fact that the Roman Catholic Church believes in the lie of evolution is nothing new, but it has become BIG news recently because the Pope himself has said evolution and creation are compatible beliefs.  Even worse, as this article reports, a Vatican official said that biblical creationism is “nearly tantamount to blasphemy.”  Of course the REAL blasphemy is ascribing evolution to God, and claiming that Genesis is all myth or allegory.
The recent RCC “Synod on the Family” has also received a lot of attention because of the apparent leaning of Rome towards approving homosexuality.  The problem here is that too many of the RCC’s clergy are already friendly to homosexuality, and yet no one is bringing discipline against them.  The excuses given for Catholics to participate in a “gay pride” parade don’t hold water.  Participating in such activities does nothing but give tacit approval to them.

Not only is the RCC a corrupt, heretical, and apostate organization claiming to be Christian, they have now really become the “religion of ME.”

Meanwhile, Rome continues to seek unification with the rest of Christianity, and many wolves in the REAL Christian church also seek unification with Rome.  The Cripplegate tells how we can know when it is okay to “join hands with Rome.

Continue to stand steady and strong in the faith, and be on watch for wolves and their poison.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Native American Church

Recent developments among some American Indian tribes have blended ancient traditions with modern “Christianized” forms of worship.  One such movement that is spreading rapidly is that of the Native American Church, which is not a Christian sect.

The Native American Church is a phenomenon of the twentieth century.  The remote origins of this movement lay in pre-Columbian Mexico, where many tribes used a hallucinogenic mushroom to facilitate visions and intense experiences.  Known as peyote, this mushroom, or similar plants, became a sacrament — a way of communing with ultimate reality.  The Native American Church is a pan-tribal organization dedicated to celebrating the powers of peyote to reconnect native Americans with their religious traditions.  Most of the members come from the southern plains, but scatterings liver elsewhere.

“Although the Native American Church seeks to preserve and revitalize native traditions, in fact many Christian notions have entered into its beliefs and rituals.  So, for example, one branch of the Native American Church, the Cross Fire, uses the Bible in ceremonies.  Still, native symbols, such as feathers and drums, adorn the rituals, and prayers ascend to such deities as the Morning Star.  In some branches, worshipers wear blankets of red and blue, red standing for day and blue for night.  Singing and dancing, the participants revere ‘Chief Peyote,’ who brings their spirits to life and quickens their dreams.  Members may also pray to Christ, and their consumption of the peyote buttons is likened to a communion ceremony.” [Native American Religions, by Denise Lardner Carmody & John Tully, p.16]

The influence of the Native American Church is gaining inroads into American Indian Christian communities with an appeal to return to the cultural roots of the people as a means to offset the effects of the white man’s influences.  A form of tribal pride induces many to attempt to blend their faith in Christ with American Indian religious practices, either unaware or unconcerned that there can be no compatibility between the two.

Albert James Dager, “Religious Diversity on the Rise — American Indian Religion: Making a Comeback,” Media Spotlight, Vol. 21, No.1, February 1998.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Did They Really Say That?!?

"Mary is co-redemptrix of the human race...because with Christ she ransomed mankind from the power of Satan.  Jesus redeemed us with the blood of His body, Mary with the agonies of her heart.... The church and the saints greet her thus: 'You, O Mary, together with Jesus Christ, redeemed us.'...

God has ordained that no grace will be granted to us except through Mary. ....No one will be saved or obtain mercy except through you, O Heavenly Lady. ...No one will enter heaven without passing through Mary as one would pass through a door.... O Mary, our salvation is in your hands."

Keith A. Fournier, "Evangelical Catholics"

"Sustain us, O Virgin Mary, on our journey of faith and obtain for us the grace of eternal salvation."

John Paul II, "The Holy Father's Prayer for the Marian Year," 1988

These examples of the Roman Catholic worship -- yes, WORSHIP -- of Mary show just how blasphemous and unbiblical are such teachings.  Nowhere in the Bible will you find Mary being a redeemer of mankind; that office is held ONLY by Jesus.  Nowhere does Scripture say that Mary "ransomed" mankind in any way.  Nowhere in Scripture does it even intimate that Mary is God's channel of grace to mankind, or that salvation is through her.

Salvation is ONLY through Christ, the redemption of our sins is ONLY through Christ, the ransom paid for our sins was ONLY by Christ.

Roman Catholicism has made Mary into a part of the Godhead, and this is pure blasphemy and idolatry.  Mary was no more than a humble woman who was blessed to be chosen to give birth to our Savior.  She was not born sinless, nor was she bodily assumed into heaven.  These are stories the Roman Catholic Church made up.  And these teachings are examples of why Romanism is a false belief system.

Monday, October 27, 2014

False Gospels

Paul cursed those who taught that one must believe the gospel and keep the law in order to be saved (Gal. 1:6-12).  Such a slight addition destroyed the gospel.  No one believing that message could be saved!  Nor is anyone a Christian who believes one of today's popular diluted gospels.

Oswald Chambers warned lest, in our zeal to get people to accept the gospel, we manufacture a gospel acceptable to people and produce "converts" who are not saved.  Today's most popular perversion is the "positive" gospel which is designed to offend no one with the truth.  Robert Schuller, for example, has said that it is demeaning to call anyone a sinner and that Christ died to restore human dignity and self-esteem.  He "wins many to Christ" with that seductive message -- but such a gospel does not save sinners.

Dave Hunt, "God's Nonnegotiable Gospel - Part 1," The Berean Call, April 1993

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spurious Revivalism

American Protestantism is characterized by a peculiar evil which I may describe by the term "spurious revivalism."  The common mischief resulting from all its forms is the over-hasty reception into the communion of the churches of multitudes of persons whom time proves to have experienced no spiritual change.  In most cases, these mischievous accessions are brought by sensational human expedients.  It is an unpopular thing for a minister of the gospel to bear this witness.  But it is true.  And my regard for that account which I must soon render at a more awful bar than that of arrogant public opinion demands its utterance.

R. L. Dabney, 1892, cited in The Berean Call, "Quotable," September 1992

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Anvil — God’s Word

Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then, looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he, and then, with twinkling eye,

“The anvil wears the hammers our, you know.”

And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed — the hammers gone.

Unknown, from "The Best Loved Poems of the American People"

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Christian Sentimentalism

...[A] work of art may be solidly biblical in content, yet have little or no artistic merit.  Christians should not allow themselves to develop sloppy aesthetic judgment by accepting low-quality religious kitsch just because they agree with the message.  When I was growing up, the typical religious art exhibited a saccharine Victorian sentimentalism.
What makes this sentimentalized art and music so insipid? It equates Christianity with sugar and spice and everything nice.  The poet Paul Claudel pilloried the sweet-and-light style by asking, "If the salt hath lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?  With sugar!"

When generations of children are nourished on these sugary images, they lose a sense of Jesus' true character.  In the words of Dorothy Sayers, "We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah," turning Jesus "into a household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies."  Yet in the first century, this so-called "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" was so adamant and inflammatory "that He was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and public danger."  How will the church portray that Jesus in its art?

Today's parallel to Victorianism would include praise music that mirrors the vapid emotionalism and egocentrism of pop culture.  I once visited a church where I was startled to hear the congregation sing lines like "You are my all desire," and "I want to feel the warmth of your embrace."  The lyrics made no mention of God or Jesus.  No reference to salvation or justification or any other theological theme.  Nothing to suggest that the song was anything but a love song to someone's girlfriend.  The lyrics were such an extreme example of the Jesus-is-my-girlfriend genre that I wondered how any man could sing it with a straight face -- though as I looked around the room, I saw several men with their eyes closed, arms raised.

Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning, p.270-271.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Random Aberrations, Apostasies, and Heresies

I’m a wee bit behind the times again; I had to take an unexpected trip for a couple days.  So let’s see what I have caught up on!

I thought I’d start out with this excellent article about discernment.  We all need to learn this.

Along the same thought, know the difference between the wolves and the sheep!

What you don’t want to do is listen to Rick Warren teaching about how to hear God’s voice!

Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian?”  I think more and more churches are certainly getting this way.

Well, it looks like Bill Gothard has no intention of ever truly repenting.  The man is a real wolf!

Mark Driscoll has resigned from Mars Hill, and yet he thinks he’s qualified for future ministry.  Sola Sisters comment on Driscoll’s idea of being qualified.  Lighthouse Trails gives a good overview of the whole problem with Driscoll.

I’ve been reading several articles about the new “Christmas” movie by Kirk Cameron.  This article demonstrates grave problems with the reconstructionist history and theology of this movie.

Well, that’s all for now; not a big collection, but what I felt was the most important recent news.  Meanwhile, I’m busy transferring all my article about Mormonism to my new blog.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Evening Prayer

If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way —
Good Lord, forgive!

If I have uttered idle words or vain,
If I have turned aside from want or pain,
Lest I myself should suffer through the strain —
Good Lord, forgive!

If I have craved for joys that are not mine, 
If I have let my wayward heart repine,
Dwelling on things of earth, not things divine —
Good Lord, forgive!

If I have been perverse, or hard, or cold,
If I have longed for shelter in Thy fold,
When Thou has given me some part to hold —
Good Lord, forgive.

Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee,
Forgive the secret sins I do not see,
That which I know not, Father, teach Thou me —
Help me to live.

Charles H. Gabriel
from “The Best Love Poems of the American People

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Women's Roles in Society?

Whatever role distinction Scripture my make in the home and in the church, it is unwarranted to extend these to society at large on the basis of biblical authority.  One may see a paradigm of male/female relationships in the biblical model for marriage and apply this to civic or business relationships, but he may not do this on the basis of biblical authority, for the Bible is silent on the issue of female leadership in business, industry, or government.  How much more distant from scriptural teaching is the ridiculous and altogether pernicious idea that every woman must be subordinate to any man with whom she is related.

Robertson McQuilkin, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, p.183

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Good Question!

If sinlessness is claimed for the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ so she could be pure enough to bear the Savior, should it also be claimed for Mary’s mother so she could be pure enough to bear Mary?  Where does the process stop?  The Bible stops it by claiming sinlessness only for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dr. Harold J. Berry, What They Believe, p.188

Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Catholics — can you answer that?  Where does the process stop?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Appealing to the "Me" Generation

One of the problems I have with "contemporary" Christian music is that sometimes the writer doesn't seem to be able to write something from his personal abilities, so he modifies a well-beloved hymn just enough to sell the "new" song as his own.  I've seen this in the past but can't remember now what some of the others are, however last week in church we sang Chris Tomlin's "My Chains Are Gone," and I've been thinking about it ever since. So this is the one I'm addressing today.

My main problem with this song is that it has totally replaced the traditional version of "Amazing Grace."  Don't get me wrong -- I like the chorus.  However, the chorus was apparently designed to make the old song more appealing to the younger generations.  I think if we are going to use this song, then we should alternate between it and Amazing Grace.

An important, and significant, deletion in My Chains Are Gone is the third verse of Amazing Grace.  However, I think it is interesting that Tomlin elected to include the last verse of John Newton's version, which I've never seen in a hymnbook before -- the books tend to replace it with O.D. Hall's verse, which doesn't seem to go along with the rest of the song!

Here are the full lyrics of John Newton's Amazing Grace:

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ'd!

Thro' many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Now, notice the importance, in the sequence to the thoughts, of the third verse; he's been through all sorts of travails but was kept safe through God's grace.  This leads right into the next verse where he looks to the future safe-keeping by God.

Every hymnbook I remember singing from leaves off the last two verses (I've never sung them - have only read them in other sources), and swaps verses three and four, and then ends with this verse by O.D. Hall:

When we've been there ten thousand years, 
Bright shining as the sun, 
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.

Meh! It just doesn't go with the context of the rest of the song!

For those unfamiliar with Tomlin's version, his chorus comes after the second verse, and it is sung twice through after the third verse (Newton's 4th), and then ends the song after the last verse.  Here are the lyrics:

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

One last observation is that Newton said "I once was lost, but now am found," while Tomlin says "now I'm found."  Not a biggie, but I just don't like people changing an author's words unnecessarily.

So, to sum up, in case you found it difficult to follow me, Chris Tomlin drops off verses 3 and 5 of the original Amazing Grace hymn and replaces them with his chorus.  I think the error here is that he interrupts the flow of the "story" being told and misses out on part of the theology Newton was getting across.

The point I want to make here is not that there is anything wrong with Tomlin's song in and of itself, rather the fact that it is directed at a younger generation is just part of the overall symptom of the church's focussing on that one demographic while ignoring the wealth of wisdom and experience from the older members.  It's part of the "dumbing down" of our theology and worship to make it more appealing to the flesh.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Roman Catholicism Bowing to Homosexuality?!?

I read news this morning about the Vatican’s report on “debates at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.”  Frankly, I was shocked at things being said because the Roman Catholic Church has remained staunch about sexual immorality even as so many non-Catholic denominations and individual assemblies have kowtowed to the culture.  Of course this report has not been announced without eliciting much controversy.  Let’s look at some of the things said, as reported on the Catholic Life Site News, followed by my comments (I’m not going to address the issue of divorce and remarriage except to say I think the RCC is wrong about their stance):

The document is largely framed in terms of the need to reach out to people in their sinful state, or, as it says, to “accept people in their concrete being.” This “requires that the doctrine of the faith … be proposed alongside with mercy,” it explains.

People “in their concrete being” are not homosexuals.  Homosexual behavior is always a choice, and one’s sexual desires are not their “concrete” being.  We are more than our sexual desires in our fundamental being.  And does “mercy” mean we are not to tell homosexuals to leave their sin?

“Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings,” [my bold emphasis]

What “positive values” can one find in a homosexual relationship?  NONE - the entire relationship is rebellion against God, and God says it is an abomination to Him.  Are there “positive values” to other immoral relationships?  Certainly not with adultery.  Possibly with those who are living as husband and wife without the benefit of a marriage ceremony.

“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.”

Perhaps they do, and perhaps adulterers do also.  But should we then permit them to fellowship as long as they are still sinning and refusing to repent of it?

“Are our communities capable of providing [them a welcoming home], accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”

Please explain just how Christians are supposed to “accept and value” homosexuality when God calls it an abomination?  Accepting it and giving it any value at all does indeed compromise not only RCC doctrine in regards to marriage and family, but also every other Christian’s.

“The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman”

No, but the report wants them to give it acceptance and value nevertheless!

“I guess that what I want to express is that we must respect the dignity of every person, and the fact to be homosexual doesn’t mean that this dignity must be not recognized and promoted. … I think it is the most important point, and also the attitude of the Church to welcome persons who have homosexual orientation is based on the dignity of the person they are.”

If the person who has homosexual “orientation” repents of the immorality associated with such desires, and turns his or her life over to Christ, then — and ONLY then — should they be welcome in any Christian assembly.

[Archbishop Bruno] Forte said that homosexual unions have "rights that should be protected,"

Can someone explain to me just what “rights” homosexual unions have in the Church?  The Church is expected to DENOUNCE such unions, not “accept and value” them!  What about adulterers — do they have “rights that should be protected” by the Church?

I realize this report is not the final document, but only preliminary.  However, to even suggest such things is in itself rebelling against God.  I’d like to see the Pope come out strongly against such suggestions so as to demonstrate just what will be the official stance of Rome.  Or will he accept it and lead Rome further down the apostasy road?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is It a Religion?

As Elliot Miller, specialist in New Age beliefs, pointed out,The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a primary characteristic of a religion is that it adheres to and promotes ‘underlying theories’ concerning such ‘ultimate realities as man’s nature and his place in the universe.” This is certainly true not only of the New Age Movement but also of Freemasonry.

Dr. Harold J. Berry, What They Believe, p.79

This is why the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Secular Humanism is a religion, and why Evolutionism is also a religion.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rick Joyner’s Hubris

Rick Joyner is a typical Word of Faith false prophet.  In my September 17th RAAH I linked to an article about Joyner’s claim of visiting heaven.  Today, this article was in my email from The Berean Call; a perfect example of the garbage Joyner spouts.


On [the September 11, 2014] "Prophetic Perspective on Current Events" program, Rick Joyner recounted the eight hours he spent in Heaven recently, as well as the regular face-to-face encounters he has been having with Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, and the Prophet Elijah.

During his recent visit, Joyner learned that there is no Ebola virus in Heaven and that Christians are capable of taking authority over the disease here on earth. In fact, there are certain people who are given "total authority over Ebola," allowing them to cure people infected with the disease simply by being in their presence.

"Somebody with Ebola, they come into the room, the Ebola is gone," Joyner said. "That person is healed. It cannot live, cannot exist in their presence." All Christians will one day have this same power, Joyner said, revealing that he even had a vision of children clearing entire regions of radiation simply through prayer.

[TBC: It is instructive when a secular group such as "Right Wing Watch" shows concern regarding the false teaching of individuals such as Rick Joyner. Yet, the concern of believers seems muted when Joyner makes such outrageous and unbiblical claims. In Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets, Keith Gibson points out that Joyner in Overcoming Evil in the Last Days "impugns the motives of those who would dare to be concerned about false teaching creeping into the church, and writes, 'Although this spirit usually comes in the guise of protecting the sheep, the truth, or the Lord's glory, it is an evil, critical spirit that will always end up causing division and destruction'." (Overcoming Evil in the Last Days, 2003 Destiny Image Publishers, pp. 144-45).] 

Christian Worldview

"Those who aspire to a Christian worldview must remember that when St. Paul talks about 'the renewing of our minds' (Rom.12:1), that verse is in the context of a call to lay our entire lives on the altar as a 'living sacrifice.'  In other words, the path to intellectual renewal is to offer up one's entire self -- mind, body, heart, and spirit -- in solidarity with the sacrifice of Christ.  Anything less can become pride and empty intellectualism."

Nancy Pearcey, "Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning,"  p.277

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Random Aberrations, Apostasies, and Heresies

Back on the 22nd of last month I wrote an article about “worship pastors,” and, wouldn’t you know it, seven days later the Cripplegate posted this excellent article about “4 Guidelines for Worship Leaders.”   If only such leaders would take heed.

The Episcopal Church continues to show just how apostate it really is.  Now we have a Tulsa, OK, assembly teaching the Bible by using Harry Potter stories!!!!  
Yep, lets all watch and discuss Harry Potter movies with all the occultism, dress as witches and warlocks, and then see how it all relates to the Bible.

Not to be outdone, Christianity Today Astray is championing the use of Enneagrams!   What will they suggest next — Ouija boards?  Marcia Montenegro has an excellent examination of the CT article.

AAANNNDDD a new “church” is going to be highlighted on the TLC network.  Just another bunch of pagans who worship sex in all its perversions by claiming it is all okay with God.

We are reminded by Jon Gleason that there is no “third way” of dealing with homosexuality and other sexual perversions and immorality.  You either agree with God and condemn it or you disagree with God and affirm it. You can’t have a “church” walking the fence.  And the same goes for all non-negotiable doctrines.

John has another article which demonstrates what happens “When doctrinal purity dies.

Jesse Johnson explains why he is a cessationist.  I agree with him.

I have always thought that “multi-site churches” were more about the ego of the “pastor” than anything else.  It is impossible for a “pastor” to shepherd his people that way.  I came across this article explaining a lot of the problems with such “churches.”

Lastly, Janis Hutchinson has part 2 of her series on the goddess of Mormonism.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Christian Rock

“In light of the wide exposure that the mass media have given, and continues to give, to rock ’n’ roll, together with the ever-present phenomenon of secularization, it seemed inevitable that rock music would someday invade Christian circles — and it did.  It’s users call it ‘Christian Rock.’  Often it is also called ‘contemporary Christian music.' . . . Some Christian rock songs have religious titles or themes while others focus only on love and romance.  In regard to the latter, there often is little or no difference in the lyrics of these songs from those of non-Christian rock music.  Even selections that have religious titles or themes often reflect a theology that indirectly praises humans rather than God.  For example, one song (‘Cartoons’ by Chris Rice) says it is great to sing ‘praise in a whole new way.’

“Some of the Christian rock music, like secular rock, also plays notes of rebellion.  A few years ago Undercover, a Christian punk rock group, took the well-known Christian hymn ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ and recorded it in speed rock form, greatly diminishing its sacred qualities.  By altering this widely sung hymn, the Undercover group displayed a form of rebellion.  Still other Christian rock music sometimes faults (at times rightly) the institutional church of today for having forgotten the poor and downtrodden.  Such music is probably more accurately seen as a social critique than an example of rebellion, especially if we remember the early church’s deep commitment to charity and compassion. . . 

“Even Christian rock that is not rebellious — and much of it is not — still leaves much to be desired in terms of good Christian theology.  Often little or nothing is said about the nature of God other than the fact that he loves people.  But that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is rarely heard, if at all, in Christian rock music.  Many recordings speak about God’s grace, but they do not say how man receives this grace.  That God’s grace in Christ comes through faith as heard from his Word is typically missing.  Also, far too many selections accent people’s subjective spiritual feelings, as singers note how they feel about God rather than how he felt about them as sinful beings whom he had to redeem through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

“Finally, in considering Christian rock, one must ask whether its performers and those who listen to it are not conforming to the world, contrary to Romans 12:2, where St. Paul reminds Christians, ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.’  The following indicate that conforming to the world is definitely a part of many so-called Christian rock selections, for they sometimes present a worldly or even blasphemous picture of God.  Here are some examples.  Robert Sweet of the now defunct Stryker band used to display the words ‘JESUS CHRIST ROCKS’ on the back of his drummer chair.  The Messiah Prophet Band has called Jesus Christ ‘the Master of Metal’; the Petra Band has said that God is ‘the God of Rock and Roll,’ and Daniel Band plays a song called ‘Party in Heaven’ that says, ‘There’s a party in heaven/The bread is unleaven/The tree of life is growin’ fine/It’s past eleven/My number is seven/The Lamb and I are drinkin’ new wine.’

“For centuries both sacred and secular music in Western society, much of it written by Christians or by musicians influenced by Christianity, had a highly edifying effect on people.  But with the continued growth of secularization and relativism, there has been a steep and rapid decline in the wholesomeness and beauty of music.  Hence, one wonders what the future holds, especially since much current rock music, including heavy metal and rap music, not only has assumed a major role but is preempting and displacing wholesome music of the past.  It is not an exaggeration to say that as far as the East is from the West, so far have hard rock musicians and their music moved from the goal that music should be performed ‘to the glory of God and the recreation of the mind.’  Christian rock, although different than hard rock in some respects, also appears to be contributing to this displacement.

Western music attained its greatness because its composers, such as Ambrose, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, and Vaughan Williams, were inspired by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  Unlike the God-denying and morally defiant writers of hard rock music, who see human life as meaningless and absurd, musicians in the past knew that God existed and guided their lives.  They believed that God willed their existence and that they were not biological flukes.  Their lives had meaning, and their music resonated those convictions.  That is why Bach, for instance, felt that all music, even his secular music, was ‘an expression of divinity.’  In a great deal of rock music, especially hard rock, this noble conviction is not only totally absent but is often rebelled against as well.

“From Christianity’s earliest years and for centuries thereafter, Christian musicians gave beauty and majesty to Western music, even to secular pieces.  They reflected the influence of Jesus Christ.  As Donald Grout has said, ‘The history of Western art music properly begins with the music of the Christian Church.’  Once the Christian influence no longer plays a significant role in the music of Western society, which is increasingly becoming the case, it will continue to deteriorate and sink to even baser levels.  One is reminded of the Greek philosopher Plato who said, ‘Give me the songs of the nation and it matters not who writes its laws.’”

Alvin J. Schmidt, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization, p.340-342

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Some More Good Stuff

Apologetics isn’t just about defending the Faith against all the false teachers and false teachings, it is also about clearly explaining what the Faith is all about.  1 Peter 3:15 makes it clear that every Christian’s duty is to be a good apologist.   This requires study, so as to “present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15, NIV)

Studying the Word often requires the use of commentaries, because the vast majority of Christians are not able to read or understand the original languages in which the Bible was written, nor do we have knowledge of the cultural context which helps explain so much of what is going on in Scripture.  These commentaries may be books, a sermon, or articles, etc.

When I have a blog post about “good stuff,” they are links to commentaries in the form of articles which can help us to better understand various aspects of Christian teachings; apologetics from a positive side.  And this post is another one pointing to some articles I have read over the past few weeks which I found edifying.  I hope you will also find them the same.

I think many Christians are unclear on what forgiveness is really about.  “Defining Forgiveness” should help you understand the meaning.

With so much discussion in the media about what marriage is, and with so many Christians compromising with the same-sex fake marriage ideology, I think it would be good for us to remember what God’s design for marriage is.

There are many aberrant ideas about how the current church should look just like the church did in the book of Acts.  But was that recorded history a prescription for the church or a description of what was taking place at that period in history?  The Cripplegate gives some food for thought.

I previously wrote an article about why I believe babies and small children will be saved.  I came across an excellent article which agrees with my belief, presenting a good defense of the reasons for such belief.

Did Paul teach a different Gospel from the one Jesus preached?  Many people make this claim.  A solid understanding of Paul’s teachings will refute the claim.

Lastly, I thought this article about  eschatology was quite interesting — and not just because it agrees with my viewpoint.  I have often explained that the Bible and early writings of Christians showed a belief in a “rapture” at the end of the Tribulation, followed by 1000 years of Christ reigning.  This article explains where the changes to amillennialism and post-millennialism entered into Christian belief.  (the comments show a lot of ignorance of history, as well as a lot of devotion to Romanism)