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Posts Tagged ‘evangelicalism’

Good Christian Belles: Why It Isn’t That Big Of A Deal

Posted by Job on March 4, 2012

ABC – that’s right – the same company as “family-friendly Disney” that has been marketing sexualized images of teen girls for going on 20 years, and oh yeah has been promoting occult/witchcraft/magic to mainstream audiences from the very beginning – has a (yawn) “controversial” new show called “Good Christian Belles” or GCB (not the original more controversial title from the book on which it was based). As the “talent” behind this production have also worked on such products as “Steel Magnolias”, “Glee”, “Desperate Housewives” etc. (what, no “Sex And The City” veterans available?) and depicts Texas Southern Baptists, one can guess the tone and subject matter. And, as one can also guess, various “watchdog groups” purporting to represent evangelical Christians have professed themselves to be shocked and outraged. However, the truth is that this reveals more about the lobbying groups and the Christians that they represent than it does the TV show and those responsible for its existence.

Why? Because “Good Christian Belles” and those responsible for it – quite simply – are the world, and the world hates Christians and Christianity. Always has, always will. There is no way to sugarcoat it or tapdance around it: it is a fact plainly revealed in the Bible. Search the scriptures. As recorded very early in Genesis, history of those declared righteous on earth begins with elect Abel being murdered by the non-elect Cain. What was Abel’s crime that provoked Abel’s wrath? Being righteous. Cain killed Abel because Abel was righteous; because Abel had the faith that Cain lacked, acted according to that faith, and was rewarded by God because of his faith in action. Now Genesis is the first book in the Bible. In Revelation, the last book in the Bible, we see of persecution afflicting several churches in Revelation 2 and 3, and future times of persecution for the church throughout history are prophesied, including a severe global one at the time of the anti-Christ. In between, we see the Gentile nations’ persecuting the nation of Israel and God having to come to their aid time and time again (though God finally used those nations to destroy Israel because of their sins) towards the end of the Old Testament, the New Testament begins with the backdrop of the persecution of Israel by the Roman Empire. And of course, the climax of the story of the persecution of the righteous is the murder of Jesus Christ at the hands of His own Israelite nation and people (along with the Roman accomplices).

In addition to this context and background, Jesus Christ specifically told us that we would be hated and rejected by the world, told us the reason for it – because of our identification with Him, the true object of their hatred – and told us not to be surprised by it. Moreover, we knew that the early church did not see this rejection and hatred by the world for the sake of Jesus Christ as an occasion for grief and concern requiring “fighting back”, but rather an occasion for joy resulting in praising Jesus Christ. So, with these facts clearly laid out in scripture, why do (American) Christians react so churlishly in response to the world hating and rejecting us the way that the Bible says that it would? The answer: unbelief. We do not believe the Bible.

Now we do believe the Bible when it tells us that we are righteous, holy, and children of God. That is not the issue. What we do not believe is that the world will reject us because of it. The reason, the real problem: we do not believe that the world is sinful, unholy. Why? Because we do not believe that God is holy. Or more to the point: we do not believe that God is holy when compared to us! We do not see God as being truly holy. Instead, we see God as being “a better us.” We see God as being like us, only better. So becoming more like God does not require a miraculous conversion; for God to transform us into being like Him; for God to perfect us and glorify us in His image. No, instead we only need to improve through things like religious observance, good works, adherence to some moral code, plus some mystical mysterious religious experiences where we “feel God’s presence” and “encounter God”, not to mention the emotive experience of “having a personal relationship with God.”

Why do we not do this? Because coming to grips with God’s holiness means acknowledging the world’s unholiness. And as we are most certainly part of this current kosmos – this worldly system and its ways – it means coming to grips with our own unholiness. By this, I do not mean in an individual sense per se, especially as it applies to legitimately born again Christians whose sins have been forgiven and who are made holy through our identification with Jesus Christ. Rather, when I say “our”, I mean what we are a part of. Our communities. Our institutions. Our values. Our very friends and neighbors! We do not want to acknowledge that all of that is Babylon, and as such is going to come under the terrible judgment of an angry God on the day of the Lord.

And it is not merely that acknowledging that we and all that we know and love are part and parcel of a wicked worldly system is an affront to our human self-esteem, though it is most certainly the case. It also means accepting how truly isolated we are in a natural sense. It means accepting that we are not of this world, but merely pilgrims in it. It means accepting that we are indeed set apart from all else; that we are, well, peculiar. It means accepting being a Jesus freak, a holy roller, a religious fanatic, a fundamentalist, a cult member, a close-minded bigot, and all of those other perjoratives that you have heard directed towards Christians and probably used yourself. It means having to interpret and apply Luke 14:26 (“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple“) to your own life literally instead of making it into a metaphor or symbolism (or just ignoring and dismissing it and pretending that it isn’t there; that it is just pious Bible religion talk that HAS no REAL concrete meaning other than some general “ok you go love and follow Jesus now!” like that “cutting off your hand and poking out your eye if it offends you” stuff).

So, we don’t want to believe that God is holy because it means that accepting that the world that we love is unholy. So, instead of using “Good Christian Belles” as an impetus to sanctify ourselves, we feign outrage in an attempt to sanctify the world. Shock! Anger! Dismay! Why can’t we get positive depictions of Christians in the media? Liberalism! Political correctness! They wouldn’t dare depict Muslims in this way! How do we know this? Why? Because the orchestrated, well-funded religious right political machine tells us so. You know, the ones to tell us how to shoehorn Christianity into the world, so we won’t feel like such an outsider. The ones who tell us that Christianity is “family-oriented” and “family-friendly.” Everyone likes families, right? And when you are with your family, your spouse and kids and grandparents and relatives, you don’t feel isolated or alone right? Well, Christians who have no family … well hey life’s tough kid, but I have mine! And Christians who had to leave everything behind – including their family – for the faith … well that is a mighty fine testimony that I will read in Christianity Today or World Magazine or listen to on my Christian/gospel etc. radio station, but it has nothing to do with my life! And the fact that most of my family doesn’t go to church … who cares … my fellowship and companionship is based on my family and my values, not identification with Jesus Christ, and that is a good thing! Or so they tell us.

They also tell us about “values.” We can accept intellectually that most people may not be born again Christians in our beloved nation because of those inconvenient words of Jesus Christ about the “narrow road” and things like that. But you don’t have to be a born-again Christians to have “Christian values”, “family values”, “moral values” etc. Those shared moral values, based on a Judeo-Christian foundation (never mind that Judaism and Christianity are completely at odds with each other because the former hates Christ and the latter worships Him exclusively) can be embraced by “whosoever will” regardless of belief – or unbelief – and it makes us a good, moral nation … sanctified in a secular sense, right? And the reason why things like “Good Christian Belles” are being made today is because we have gotten away from our traditional moral values! Back in the day, when this country still respected moral values, Hollywood produced decent entertainment that respected Christianity!

Excellent theory. Except that it isn’t true. The Christian movie “The Timechanger” does an excellent job of debunking this myth by pointing out that from the very beginning, Hollywood was not only secular but subversively so … seeking to exchange Christianity with secular ethics and values. The best example of this are “Christmas movies” which make fleeting references to Jesus Christ, none of actual Christianity, and instead promote secular humanist – and situational – morality. How does the idea that Hollywood ever respected and embraced Christianity coexist with the reality that Hollywood took the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and transformed it into a vehicle to promote anti-Christ humanistic religion? Simple: by watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” or “Miracle On 34th Street” or the innumerable “Santa Claus” movies (and it was Hollywood – and big business – that turned Santa Claus from being a little known figure to being the most recognized figure in the world, known of by more people than Jesus Christ!) and being entertained by them.

The same with other “classic” films and TV shows. Sure, some of them might have depicted a few characters as pious, moral and religious, but even that is a long way from Biblical Christianity. Christians who saw those characters often projected their own beliefs – or more likely themselves – onto them and identified with them. But the idea that Hollywood regularly depicted characters who attested to such doctrines as sola scriptura, sola fide, substitutionary atonement is simply false. The problem is that Christians were willing to accept so little from the “Christian” characters that Hollywood presented that these characters were readily taken for Christians despite the lack of it.

And those were just the characters that were overtly taken to be practicing Christians. Make no mistake: the overwhelming majority of the characters in movies and TV shows even in Hollywood’s so-called “golden”, “classic” or “moral” era were not. And though censorship boards and cultural sensitivies (i.e. market pressure) kept them from making the equivalent of R-rated movies today, the characters not only led amoral and immoral lives, but glamorized it. It was often in a subversive fashion: the movie would depict someone given to swearing, adultery/fornication (even if it was not allowed to be consummated), drug use, lying/deception, violence etc. as the hero or sympathetic character. Realize that Hollywood movies were promoting infidelity and divorce as early as the 1930s, such as in this Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie! (The Family Values Coalition and similar would have you believe that the culture wars began with the likes of Barbra Streisand and Cher, not Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers!)

Bottom line: Hollywood has never liked Christianity. It has never supported Christianity. It has never respected or feared Christianity. Instead, it has been a force acting against Christianity from the beginning. That fact causes us to stumble because we want to believe that Hollywood was once moral and good but lost its way when it was perverted by the socially liberal movements, i.e. the 60s and 70s. Why? Because Hollywood has always been extremely popular and influential in America. Accepting that Hollywood has always opposed legitimate Christianity would mean accepting the “America was once good and virtuous because its mainstream respected Christian values before its institutions were hi-jacked” notion. We are told that demonic “Avatar” became the top box office grossing film in history because the culture no longer respects God. But the box office champion for most of Hollywood’s history (when adjusted for inflation and number of tickets sold): Gone With The Wind! With Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler and many other clearly immoral characters! (For example: when Scarlett declares “As God as my witness I will never go hungry again”, it was not a prayer or even a vow, but a blasphemous oath of the sort made by wicked people in the Old Testament!) That movie came out in 1939. During the Great Depression and World War II: “the greatest generation.”

This is not to say that things have not gotten worse. Clearly they have. But merely because things were better back then does not mean that they were good. To put it another way: just because Hollywood – and the mainstream American culture that it represents (the idea that Hollywood are these “cultural elites” that are disconnected from and do not reflect “the real America” is a right wing political device no different from the plot devices that screenwriter hacks contrive to keep stories moving along) – was less overtly antagonistic towards Christianity in the past doesn’t mean that they ever supported or respected Christianity. Today, “Good Christian Belles” depicts western Christians as liars, cheats, adulterers and schemers. 50 years ago, movies set in the “old west” commonly depicted preachers as being particularly fond of whiskey, gambling, swearing, violence or other vices. The difference is only a matter of degree.

The solution to the problem posed by such things as “Good Christian Belles”, then, is not to manufacture offense or outrage. It is certainly not to choose to believe a lie by pretending as if “the good ole days” actually were good. (Note that the Bible never instructs us to indulge in nostalgia, but instead to seek the holy God who never changes instead of preserving in memory the fallen culture that does change, and usually so for the worse.) Instead, it is to believe what the Bible says, and to embrace it. God is holy. God’s people are holy because God makes them holy. The world is wicked. Because of this, God, His people and the world are going to be at emnity (God and His people on one side, the world and the other) until the last day, when time shall be no more. Instead of pretending as if the world was never evil, or America was not originally part of the evil world because of its “values”, of its being a “Christian nation” or “founded on Christian principles”, or mourning over the time when America was “less evil”, we should look forward to the day of the Lord when all evil, all that opposes Jesus Christ and His church, are destroyed forever.

Remember the warning of Luke 9:62: “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Join that with Luke 17:32′s “Remember Lot’s wife.” Instead of being deceived by false teachers into loving this worldly system, we should endeavor to separate from it, be holy and embrace the world to come, which is New Jerusalem where we will be with Jesus Christ – and separated from those who hate Him and us because we are in Him – forever.

If you have not separated from the world and its wickedness, I urge you to do so immediately. Repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe that He died for sins, that He was worthy to do so in the place of sinners because of His being the Son of God, and that He rose again from the dead. If you need more information on how to accomplish this, please click on the link below.

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T.D. Jakes Exposed For The Heretical Liar That He Is And What It Means For The Church

Posted by Job on January 26, 2012

All right folks. I said that I was going to give this online discernment ministry thing up. The first reason was that there were too many false teachers and doctrines to keep track of. The second reason was that based on my interactions with those following these false preachers even after their unBiblical scandalous doctrines and behavior had been exposed that folks were going to believe what they choose to believe anyway. The third was that I had felt that I had adequately addressed the issue with the 3 years of blogging that I did dedicate to the topic. The fourth was that I felt that the best way to combat error was with the truth, so I decided to take this site in a more exegetical direction. And the last of those was also chosen for practical reasons: I no longer have the time to answer comments and interact with people that I did back when I made exposing false teachers so writing about scripture’s meaning and application seemed to be a superior use of time (and yes I do need to get back to writing about the Bible).

But the T.D. Jakes issue is timely right now due to Jakes’ recent appearance at a respected evangelical event of some estimation where he was “interviewed” by Mark Driscoll, where the topic of Jakes’ rejection of the Holy Trinity was discussed. Now I don’t mean to attack anybody, but one Christian blogger quickly proclaimed Jakes’s statement satisfies me that he is a Trinitarian and that we should celebrate that Jakes has joined the Trinitarian camp. (Which, er, makes all his time as a false preaching modalist heretic and the people that he deceived during that time “ok” I guess. The truth is that at best he was an unregenerate false teacher when he was in the pulpit before, and even if he believes in the Holy Trinity NOW and is born again NOW, he has no business in the pulpit. His previous experience and service is worthless, and he needs to take his place in the pews learning from an actual Christian pastor. Otherwise, we can go get Jewish rabbis, Catholic priests, Buddhist monks, Muslim imams, and liberal “Christians” who perform homosexual “marriage” ceremonies and put them into the pulpit immediately after they say a salvation prayer.)

Another Christian blogger made a similar – though more guarded – statement: “By far, the session that was most anticipated was the one in which T. D. Jakes was asked to clarify his position on the Trinity. Thankfully, he did so – though perhaps not in a way that would satisfy all of his critics. I believe we should celebrate his affirmation of the truth that there is one God in three Persons.”

The problem with doing so: Jakes own words on the Holy Trinity in the past and present. Now, here is a link to the transcript of the Elephant Room session, judge Jakes for yourself. But what follows is MY evaluation.

Part 1: I used to follow T.D. Jakes. Now … not so much. Without calling him a liar (while actually, you know, calling him a liar) allow me to propose that just because Jakes says something does not make it so. So … just because Jakes says that he believes “One God three Persons” DOES NOT MEAN that we should take it at face value. Jakes has been “less than forthcoming” on many issues in the past, so he does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. Just because Jakes is in the pulpit and calls himself a Christian does not mean that we should believe what he says. So no, listening to what he says and being “satisfied” requires a presumption that he is telling the truth, a presumption that he does not merit. Does that sound harsh, the bitter words of someone who has “church hurt” as it is called? Well keep reading.

Now in one context I can be SYMPATHETIC to Jakes’ views because I don’t like the wording or terminology used by the Cappadocian fathers myself. But this unease with the Cappadocian formulation needs to be addressed by someone other than Jakes. Why? Because Jakes has been known to be less than honest with the truth, and not merely on this issue. Recall that when Jakes was first challenged on the Trinity doctrine by Christianity Today, he submitted a modalist doctrinal statement that he insisted be accepted as Trinitarian!

Do not take my word on this: another ministry came to the same conclusion, that Jakes was dishonestly trying to pass off modalist heresy for orthodoxy. When challenged on it, he dissembled, claiming that his views on the Trinity were adapting and growing, that he was studying and learning more about it, and how Christians need to stop all this infighting and arguing about such things as minor differences in phraseology and get to the weightier matters of the kingdom, and such excuses for retaining and defending heresy as “these things are too mysterious to be comprehended or explained.” Jakes even resorted to race-baiting, stating “Christians will never agree on every theological issue any more than the colors of our skin will all suddenly match.” So, if Jakes was a liar and a demagogue on this Trinity issue in the past,why should we presume that he is any different now? What has changed to make us presume that Jakes has changed? Especially since he is still preaching heresies in other areas, such as the prosperity doctrine and trying to pass off ecstatic babbling done by mystics in many false religions as “speaking in tongues”?

Part II: From the transcript, it really does appear as if Jakes is fine with “persons” in his Trinitarian statement so long as “persons” is synonymous with “manifestations.” Basically, he says, “well, so long as I can call a ‘person’ a ‘manifestation’ then I am Trinitarian.” He says “My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word” – and Driscoll finishes his thought – “manifestations.” What he says next is a amazing.

“Manifest instead of persons. Which you describe as modalist, but I describe it as Pauline. When I read…let me show you what I’m talking about…when I read I Timothy 3:16 – I didn’t create this, Paul did.” And then he goes onto the time-honored modalist lying techniques from the pit of hell: “I think it’s important that we realize that our God is beyond our intellect. And if you can define Him and completely describe Him and say you are the end-all definition of who God is, then He ceases to be God. Because the reason Paul says it is a mystery, is that we deify the fact that God does things that don’t fit our formulas. And because people’s formulas and understandings of a description of an unbiblical God did doesn’t make them demonic.”

Let us go to his abuse of I Timothy 3:16. Yes, the King James Version that many oneness pentecostal liars claim is the only translation – and I used to be KJV-Only myself, and still today am KJV-Preferred, but not because of the translation itself but the texts used to produce the translation, as I believe text criticism used to produce the new manuscripts is a false science – reads “manifest” as its rendering of the Greek word  phaneroō. But other versions translate phaneroō to be “appeared” and “revealed!”

Another thing: phaneroō’s definitions: “to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way.”  So, rather than being a “mode” or “state” or “relationship” after the doctrines of the oneness heretics (for example, as water has a liquid, solid and gas manifestation as water, ice and vapor) phaneroō’ in this context merely meant how God was shown to men! That is revelation, after the same manner that the Greek word apokalypsis was used in Revelation 1:1. Paul could have just as easily used apokalypsis instead of phaneroō!

Further, according to the definition, what can phaneroō “reveal” or “manifest”? A PERSON! It is right here in definition 1d in a common Bible lexicon placed online via BlueletterBible.com:

1) to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way

a) make actual and visible, realised

b) to make known by teaching

c) to become manifest, be made known

d) of a person

1) expose to view, make manifest, to show one’s self, appear

e) to become known, to be plainly recognised, thoroughly understood

1) who and what one is

Jakes is exposed as a liar by exegesis of the very text that he used to claim that he was telling the truth! In this Jakes fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 10:2, which reads “The wicked in [his] pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.”

Now the dictionary entry makes the Cappadocian utilization of “Person” more justifiable in my mind and it who knows, the Cappadocian fathers might have relied heavily on 1 Timothy 3:16 when they formulated their Trinity doctrine (which would make Jakes’ abuse of that text still more ironic) because that text refers to the revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ and not the mere exhibition of a mode of existence or relationship (and moreover this revelation refers to Christ’s existence being shown to the world; for phaneroō to have the meaning that Jakes claims that it does, THE TERM WOULD HAVE TO REFER TO HIS INCARNATION IN THE WOMB OF MARY, NOT HIS EXISTENCE AND WORKS BEING WITNESSED BY MEN, WHICH IS THE TRUE CONTEXT OF 1 Peter 3:16 AS WELL AS REVELATION 1:1, WHICH AGAIN IS WHY APOKALYPSIS COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN USED INSTEAD) but I confess to still uneasy with it. But the difference between me and Jakes is that JAKES IS LYING. That is the bottom line.

But you know what? This is not truly about Jakes anyway. The reason is that anyone who goes and clicks on the T.D. Jakes category on this blog will know why no legitimate Christian pastor should touch Jakes with a 10 foot pole, unless that pastor has been instructed by God to smite Jakes with it. Instead, it is about the people that are embracing him. It is one thing for the decadent TBN (who has their own tag) Pentecostal abomination to embrace Jakes, and please recall that it was TBN who made Jakes into an international figure. TBN is run by a man who paid off a TBN employee with whom he had a homosexual encounter with, and has since been sued by another man making the same charges. These charges and the many other scandals are commonly known by those who patronize that network anyway and … well now you see why I felt that there were better uses of my time than exposing people who have already been exposed because people simply do not care!

But now, TD Jakes is being embraced by the “more respectable” corners of evangelical Christianity as represented by (ironically named) The Gospel Coalition, which includes some of the most prominent pastors and theologians in evangelical Christianity today. Now of course, there was significant “debate” over inviting Jakes. The fears of those objecting were quite founded, as it resulted in Mark Driscoll, himself a very troubling personality, doing very much to rehabilitate Jakes, largely because of Driscoll’s own desire to push his false anti-cessationist doctrines into the Reformed/Calvinistic evangelical movement. Also, those who would have challenged Jakes rather than accommodate him were not allowed to participate.  But the fact that there was even a debate at all shows how far gone the evangelical landscape is! Having Jakes in the Elephant Room should have been as much a nonstarter as having Richard Dawkins or Pope Benedict!

And that brings us to the real issue: further evidence that the evangelical church in America is veering off the rails. (It is such times that even people who MILDLY stand against Jakes and his lies are the ones to be mocked, opposed and condemned.) Is the great apostasy, the great falling away of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 upon us? This event is prophesied in scripture, and will come to pass. It is a very tragic development in and of itself, but 2 Thess 2:3 tells us that the great falling away is a precursor to – or more accurately a precondition for – the coming of the beast, the anti-Christ, the man of sin, which occurs during the great tribulation. It is my position that the church will experience this great tribulation, and not be raptured from or otherwise escape it, as many pastors and teachers propose. So as difficult as things are now for the church as evidenced by its willingness to not only suffer but endorse and promote such false teachers as Jakes, it is only paving the way for even tougher times to come. Christian, watch and discern the times. Pray. Be strengthened and encouraged in the Lord so that you will not be deceived, that you will resist temptation, and stay in the faith.

For those of you not in the faith, realize that the proliferation of false doctrines and those who gain wealth, fame and power by teaching them does not undermine Christianity, but rather is evidence that the Bible is true, for Jesus Christ Himself and His apostles predicted that such a time as this would come thousands of years ago; Christ referred to men such as Jakes as ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing. That many will follow such people is evidence that narrow is the gate that leads to salvation, and wide is that which leads to destruction!

Enter into the narrow gate. Be saved in the Name of Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins, believe in Jesus Christ. Follow

The Three Step Salvation Plan

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Posted in Bible, Christianity, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

VeggieTales Versus Rob Bell: Not That Much Difference!

Posted by Job on March 24, 2011

First, let me say that I haven’t read Rob Bell’s book and I do not plan to ever to. The reason is that my bookshelf is so stacked with great items from legitimate Christian writers that it will take me years to go through them all, and I am yet in the process of trying to acquire more (I want a good commentary on the book of Daniel and on the gospel of Luke; I am accepting recommendations towards that end). So I don’t have the time – or the inclination – to read prattle from a known false teacher. Further, the doctrines that Bell are spreading are not new, but instead are the same abominable heresies that the church has been contending against since nearly the beginning, and then just as now are  the result of reading humanistic and pagan ideas into the Bible text. So, if you want a review of Bell’s “Love Wins”, I suggest Albert Mohler, Ken Silva (from whom I first learned of Bell and the movement that he represents), Phil Johnson, Tim Challies, The Gospel Coalition, and a host of Christian thinkers far more capable of that sort of thing than I. Meanwhile, I will continue to spend my free time reading books that actually contain truth from the likes of Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, George Whitefield and John Eadie.

Still, it is curious to note a curiosity or two. First, the postmodern hermeneutics employed by Bell, Brian McLaren, and similar are by no means new. Quite the contrary, it is reminiscent of allegorical and other techniques that have used to either ignore or alter the meaning of “inconvenient” Bible texts for hundreds of years. I won’t go into the various doctrines that these methods have been used to support or reject, but it goes without saying that using his interpretative method when it suits your own purposes makes it a lot harder to stand in the face of a blasphemer that is using it for his.

Second, it is even more difficult to hold figures like C.S. Lewis in high esteem (and for that matter Billy Graham) when Lewis, Graham, and many other giants of evangelical Christianity hold the same basic views as does Bell! Any number of evangelical Christian leaders encourage us to run out and take our children to see the “Narnia” movies because “it is oh so important to support Christian efforts in Hollywood and the mainstream culture.” As for Billy Graham, well, their “Gideon: The Tuba Warrior” episode saw fit to depict Graham (of all the preachers in history) as one raised up by God despite Graham’s publicly stating beliefs similar to those of Bell.

Speaking of VeggieTales, I recall reading the line “The evangelical “Veggie Tales” cartoons—animated Bible stories featuring talking cucumbers and tomatoes—probably shape more children in their view of scripture than any … catechism does” in the Wall Street Journal. (Note: here is a good catechism for children.) They are not alone. Quite the contrary, you are more likely to encounter an actual Biblical theme in VeggieTales than you will in any “Christian” children’s programming in your local Christian video store, or on Christian broadcasting. But evangelical and many fundamentalist parents buy things like Veggie Tales, The Horned Avenger, On The Farm, Hermie The Caterpillar, Adventures In Odyssey etc. despite the clear fact that A) most of them offer a “Christless” Christianity focused more on ethics, morals, virtues, so-called family values, than the gospel. Phil Vischer specifically stated that this is done to increase sales and make more money from Christians, and has the motto “the more you preach, the fewer you reach.” So, all of that Jesus Christ talk will mean not selling videos because Christians won’t buy it! And they know of what they speak … consider that Good Times Entertainment, whose products were often about Jesus Christ (consider the Bible series featuring Charlton Heston), went bankrupt in 2005. An example of what leaving Jesus Christ out results in? Their “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” movie allegorically depicting Satan as the brother of Jesus Christ. Another example? Teaching works-righteousness in “Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah’s Umbrella“, when the lead female character tells the lead male character (who in true feminist fashion – yes feminism has made real inroads in evangelical Christianity – in an incompetent idiot) that “Do you know what those who do the right thing are called? Righteous.” Actually, the New Testament says that righteousness comes by being imputed through Jesus Christ, and that it is impossible to be considered righteous apart from Jesus Christ. So the need to omit Jesus Christ in order to sell more DVDs results in teaching the exact opposite of what Jesus Christ taught and denying the reason for Jesus Christ’s ministry and work! As no one raised a peep about VeggieTales’ essentially endorsing Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, modern Judaism, and every other false works-based religion, how can we be surprised when Rob Bell has such a huge audience? Bell is only reaping the fruit that that was planted and watered by others in fields that were plowed by others.

Now granted, VeggieTales does get around to mentioning Jesus Christ and even His atonement occasionally (see their Easter episodes, though typical of modern Christianity, they give Christmas much more attention than Easter, including promoting the very destructive Santa Claus works religion in two of them … telling kids that there’s no Santa Claus means not selling any DVDs though!), they and the other “Christian” entertainment rarely – if ever – mentions the other side. They will tell you “accept Jesus Christ and go to heaven.” They will not say “if you do not, you will go to hell.” Indeed, even mentions of hell are rare, and this is the case in Christian children’s entertainment, contemporary Christian and gospel music, Christian movies, Christian books, and most Christian evangelism and preaching. So, since we are in a Christian culture that leaves out this important detail, what is the basis, the justification, for getting angry when Rob Bell comes in and fills in the blanks for us?

A lot of Christians are angry at Bell for not believing orthodoxy, but the real problem is that those who believe orthodoxy will not preach orthodoxy.  Challies mentions a new book that discusses “issues pertinent to the church today” which a lot of popular contemporary writers contributed to. According to Challies, there is no chapter on hell, and there are only two references to it in the index! That is no surprise. Clark Pinnock, the Rob Bell of his day, related that when a major Christian publishing company solicited prominent evangelicals to represent the traditional, Protestant view in Four Views On Hell (which is a theological debate in published form) they found no one wanting to take the job! (Ultimately, dispensational pastor and theologian John Walvoord took the challenge.) Pinnock – and again this is nearly 20 years ago – defended his position at the time, annihilationism (this was before Pinnock discarded any remaining pretense of adhering to inerrancy and adopted views similar to Bell’s) by stating that due to the increasing unwillingness of evangelicals to preach about and defend the doctrine of hell, the result would be a widespread embrace of universalism. (Pinnock was not well versed on pluralism at the time, but after learning more about purgatory from the Roman Catholic contributor to the project, Zachary Hayes, he ultimately adopted it as his own position.)

So, Veggie Tales and its effects on children is merely symbolic for the larger Christian scene itself, whether an unwillingness to oft preach and share the whole gospel because it is not acceptable in modern humanist culture – we Christians have to keep our place in the mainstream! – or an unwillingness to confront, condemn and separate from those who preach false doctrines. Quite the contrary, Christianity Today, long the evangelical standard, published a missive aimed at Christians appropriately denouncing Bell, claiming among other things that they lacked the necessary qualifications and standing to do so, and that their actions reflected a lack of various Christian virtues. The writer calls (indirectly but very intentionally) those attacking Bell “meain-spirited”, directly accuses them of “lacking self-restraint”, and pines for the days when such debates were the exclusive domains of people like Plato and “Saint” Thomas Aquinas – in addition to Moses and Augustine – “who gained respect through a lifetime of scholarship.”

Well the respect of the world earned by “Saint” Aquinas for advancing popery and of the pagan Plato is not what we should be after in the first place. Instead, we should seek the grace given through Jesus Christ. That so many of us want the respect of those in whom the truth is not present is precisely why this great vacuum on teachings about hell exists. The problem is not that Rob Bell stepped up to fill it, for there have always been and will always be until Jesus Christ returns false teachers. No, the problem is the carnality caused by the love of this present world in the church that allows this void to exist to begin with.

The result of this void caused by the worldliness is that as many as 59% of evangelical Christians believe that salvation can be obtained outside of Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, 59% of evangelicals also have “dealing with moral breakdown” as a forefront issue; apparently the great commission can wait for another day. Again, and this should surprise who? Did you think that it was secular humanists being raised on VeggieTales, Hermie The Caterpillar, Focus On The Family etc. and buying them for their kids? Or that atheists are the ones buying Christian and gospel music that does a great job of emulating secular music (or maybe not) but oft neglects the gospel? That theological liberals are the ones heading to Christian bookstores and loading up on “devotionals” that are increasingly just Christianized pop psychology and motivational writings?

The issue is not Rob Bell. The issue is the church and its dereliction of its duty while chasing after worldly pleasures. And let Revelation 2 and 3 remind you: the church is where judgment begins. To more that is given, more is required, and the parables of Jesus Christ tell us that to those to whom more is given, more is required, and further if we are not faithful with what we have been given, then what we have will be taken from us and given to those who have been faithful. We Christians have been given the gospel, and we must avoid allowing the love of this world to prevent us from proclaiming it in its entirety.

In closing, it must be said that if you are a not a Christian, do not take comfort in the lies of the pluralists and others who claim that there is salvation outside of Jesus Christ. Yes, the Bible does declare that love wins, but it will be love of holiness, justice, righteousness, and the only way to have those attributes is by imputation through identification with One who has those attributes, which is Jesus Christ. Unless you live in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ lives in you, there is no life and victory, but only eternal torment. So, I urge you to repent of your sins and join with Jesus Christ immediately.

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Bible, child evangelism, Christian hypocrisy, christian worldliness, Christianity, church hypocrisy, church worldliness, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching, Jesus Christ, religion, religious left, religious right, universalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Should Christians Practice Lent?

Posted by Job on March 15, 2011

This is in response to a question received in the comments area.

It appears that as the ecumenical tendencies of evangelical churches increase, they are adopting more practices associated with Catholicism. While that is a worrisome trend in general, with regards to Lent in particular I cannot find anything with this tradition that transgresses New Testament teaching. It is also true that some Protestant groups have long had this ritual in their backgrounds. Anglicans, for instance, have traditionally celebrated Lent, as have Methodists and Lutherans. Presbyterians, by contrast, generally did not until recently precisely because of its Catholic origins. Other groups and traditions (i.e. Baptists) haven’t, but more so because they aren’t liturgical than because of its origins.

The question is whether the practice of Lent can be separated from the Roman Catholic doctrine of Lent. That is the same question being asked about whether a Christian should practice yoga or other traditions that come from other religions. Apart from the Catholic doctrines, Lent is simply fasting, and moreover fasting in honor of the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Certainly, there can be no law against such a thing! I have practiced fasting myself in the past, and will start back in the future, sometime later this year

However, my issue is this: if you want to fast, just fast. (And fast the way that Jesus Christ instructed us to in the gospels!) And if it is to be a corporate fast initiated by the pastor of a local congregation, and the members of that congregation touch and agree on it, even better still. Or if a group of Christians from one congregation or several congregations decide that they want to come together and devote themselves to a time of fasting and prayer without being led to do so by their pastor, again, against such thing there is no law. Indeed, such good works are praiseworthy. And we certainly should not avoid fasting during this time of year just because the Catholics are fasting.

However, in addition to avoiding Catholic doctrines regarding this ritual of theirs, what is the purpose of calling it “Lent”? Why not just call it a fast? If the reason is merely to emulate or show some sort of solidarity with Catholicism, then in my opinion, that is extremely problematic. The Bible verse that I would use is this: 2 Corinthians 6:14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Now that verse is often improperly applied to marriage (when the opposite is true; instead the Bible states that a believing spouse can often be used by God to convert an unbelieving one, see 1 Corinthians 7:10-16). Instead, this scripture and its context obviously refers to not being in religious communion or fellowship with non-Christians. That means that we cannot and should not emulate their beliefs, ways, traditions and rituals. Of course, in this age of ecumenism, pluralism, diversity, tolerance and other forms of ecclesiastical indulgence and compromise, it is no wonder that this 2 Corinthians 6:14 is applied to an area where it was never intended (ironically, consider the evangelical Christian dating site equallyyoked.com!) and neglected where it actually applies, which is to not keep church company with false religions, apostates, heretics, cultists, and anyone else who is operating beyond the bounds of New Testament Christianity, which most certainly includes Catholics, who do not even use our same canon of scripture.

Along with the National Association of Evangelical’s outreach to Mormons, it is a sign of the times. But make no mistake, it is a time that people serious about 2 Corinthians 6:14 and scripture in general should not join! Again, if your Protestant denomination has a legitimate longstanding Lent tradition of its own apart from Roman Catholicism, that is probably legitimate. But if it is some new thing, some fad that people are joining themselves to, it is perfectly appropriate to ask “why” and turn away!

Posted in Bible, catholic, Christianity, false religion, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 32 Comments »

Genesis 4:16-24 Is Clear Evidence That The Culture Is Not Worth Fighting For

Posted by Job on December 25, 2010

In Bible-based Christianity today, there are two major camps. The largest camp by far is evangelical Christianity, and then there is fundamentalist Christianity. In terms of doctrine, it is fair to say that Bible-based evangelicals and Bible-based fundamentalists are indistinguishable. Instead, the core difference between is their approach to “the world”, or the larger culture. Fundamentalists believe in remaining separate from the larger culture however and whenever possible. Evangelicals believe in fully engaging the larger culture however and whenever possible. Evangelicals fear what happens to the larger culture when the influence of the church is removed. Fundamentalists fear what happens to the church when the influence of the culture is present.

Both groups have a large body of Bible verses on their side. For instance, in the Old Testament, fundamentalists point to how Israel was called to be separate from the other nations, and how they fell into apostasy when they refused to do so and wound up adopting the evil practices and false religions of the pagans. Evangelicals mention how Israel was called to be a light to the other nations (and some even claim that Israel erred in failing to try to convert the other nations) and of course speak of how the priests and prophets were integral to Israel’s government and culture. In the New Testament, evangelicals speak of the mandate to be salt and light to the nations, and of Jesus Christ’s prayer that the church not be taken out of the world. Fundamentalists counter with the Biblical admonitions of how we should not love the world or be conformed to it.

It comes down to fundamentalists and evangelicals’ having different views on how to interpret and live out the “in the world but not of it” not only for the individual Christian’s daily life, but for the mission of the church in the world as a whole. Is our role of the church to preserve itself as Christ’s spotless bride (and to ward against apostasy) or to restrain evil in – and possibly even help reform – the world?

Now the New Testament appears to provide more evidence to the evangelicals, if one uses the number of Bible verses as a gauge. However, when one understands that many of the Bible verses that appear to endorse “taking on the culture” were actually in the context of liberating Christians from dead Jewish practices (i.e. the words of Jesus Christ to the Pharisees and the writings of Paul to Gentiles), and still more were meant to warn Christians against becoming monastics (which was a common practice of both certain Jewish sects and of zealous Gentile pagans). Also, consider the judgments of Jesus Christ of the church in Revelation 2 and 3 – and especially to the Laodicean church – was over their failure to keep themselves pure, and not over their failure to take on, influence and change the world.

Now the evangelical arguments for engaging the culture are many, and most of them are supported with very sound theological foundations that have excellent Biblical support. The problem is that the witness of both the Bible and of church history is consistent: whenever the church takes on the culture, the culture wins. And whenever the church engages the culture, the result is never the culture becoming more like the church, but the church becoming more like the culture. It has been this way ever since Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom (and the disastrous consequences that resulted).

The reason is that when we take on the culture, we move outside of what we are called to do. We go from God’s mission, God’s mandate, God’s territory and into our own. So, we do not have God’s resources at our disposal for the “culture-changing” mission. Instead, we have our own resources. Now these resources may be considerable, especially in wealthy, powerful cultures where a large percentage of the population adheres to or respects some of Christianity. For instance, lots of money can be raised, lots of manpower can be marshaled, and things ranging from moving oratorical skills, inspiring artistic talents, and cunning organizational or strategic abilities can be dedicated.

And it is because of all this great human ability united towards a common purpose, it is possible to win a few battles. And when those battles are won, it does honestly appear as if God is on their side, especially if one’s approach to Christianity is numbers-driven, results-driven, outcome-driven etc. … anything that allows you to evaluate your success based on something that comes to fruition relatively quickly and is easy to measure.

But the truth is that it is all illusory. Gains made are turned back; battles may be won but the war is lost. The reason: Christians are not the only ones with great human abilities at their disposal. Non-Christians have the same. Not only that, they have superior numbers and resources, plus the god of this world, Satan, on their side.

With these “facts on the ground”, to employ a military term, the only way for a Christian to be able to claim victory in culture wars is to become so compromised and worldly, to become so dispirited by a series of defeats, surrenders and capitulations that a lesser defeat seems like a victory. It is like a sports team who goes winless for 10 straight years, then posts a season where they win a single game (or maybe 2), lose the rest, and celebrate it as progress. Or the situation of a school where 95% of its students are performing under grade level, and when “only” 75% of the students are performing under grade level, the principal and teachers are rewarded with promotions and bonuses, and a party is thrown for the parents. Or when a military goes into war with great aspirations i.e. to force a complete surrender and a peace treaty according to the terms of the invading army, but instead finds itself beaten, driven back and humbled, and winds up having to “declare victory” based on a much more modest set of “goals” that do not come close to justifying the invasion in the first place, and withdrawing while leaving the enemy regime and military in an even stronger position than they were before. So, evangelical theology – doctrine and practice – must contort itself in ways to contrive failures as successes so that both past endeavors that did fail and future efforts that will fail can be justified.

Now this should not be viewed in terms of fundamentalists’ possessing any sort of virtue for refusing to involve themselves in this folly. Quite the contrary, fundamentalists have a different set of problems of their own. Instead, all virtue and wisdom – all credit – belongs to the God who inspired the very Bible that is to be our guide on this matter and all others. And it is to this Bible that we can turn to for clear evidence that the church is not to fight for the culture, because the culture is not worth fighting for.

The Bible text in question: Genesis 4:16-24. Why? Because this text deals with man’s increasing in number and a culture forming as a result. It is true: God did create and give to mankind certain foundations or building blocks of culture. For instance, God created the institutions of marriage and family by joining together Adam and Eve and telling them to procreate. God also created occupations (work or labor) by making Adam the keeper of the garden of Eden, and by commanding Adam to till the ground to support himself and his family after the fall. So, it is safe to proceed from there with the position that marriage, family and labor were given by God to man through special, divine revelation and that they therefore are to be promoted and nurtured by the church among Christians in order to have marriages, families and labor that glorifies God. (Working to somehow sanctify the marriage/family/work habits of non-Christians is not part of our Biblical mandate.)

But in Genesis 4:16-24, we see other cultural developments taking place wholly outside of God’s involvement. We know this because this passage deals with the lineage of Cain, who was driven from God’s presence for murdering righteous Abel, and not with the Godly line of Seth. Now the Bible doesn’t deal much with Cain’s seed (or with people outside of God’s covenant in general except when they interact with or take actions that effect God’s covenant people) so we can take the position that this information was included for a reason, so that we can draw lessons from it. And what do we learn?

First, we learn that Cain built a city. So, civilization, or a more advanced and orderly structured human society, was a development that came from human invention and not as a result of divine command or revelation. Second, we learn that one of Cain’s progeny, Lamech, corrupted the institution of marriage by taking two wives. Further, this same Lamech created the beginnings of false religion by making authoritative claims – based on himself as the sole authority and source of power – and compelling other humans to hear and heed his claims. Also, Lamech’s claims – that if Cain would be avenged sevenfold, that he would be avenged seventy sevenfold – were designed specifically to emulate, challenge, magnify himself against, and rise above God’s power and revelation. This has been the purpose and goal of all false religions and ideologies ever since. Further, Lamech’s involving his wives in his religious pronouncements gave an organization to it, so Lamech then was not the originator of some self-styled individualized spirituality system internal to himself, but false organized religion observed and shared by other people.

Then there was Lamech’s own children. One began the practice of living in tents and also of cattle ranching, which was higher, more advanced and organized socioeconomic based lifestyle, a key cultural component of civilized societies. Another, Jubal, created music, and another still, Tubalcain, created metallurgy. Both of these are vital to both the arts and commerce, and necessary elements to the formation of higher culture and of civilization.

Add it all up, and you have cities, God-dishonoring marriages (marriage quickly became merely arrangements for economic and tribal purposes), false religion, advanced economics (and a lifestyle centered around it), the creative arts and advancing technology. What do you have? Civilization. Culture. And with all the norms, morals and values that go with it. Again, while God did give basic, lower forms or building blocks of culture as part of divine command and revelation, the higher forms, the cultural advancements, came from the line of Cain. They did not come from the Godly line of Seth, or of any of God’s covenant people.

Now this does not mean that culture is wholly, inherently evil. Quite the contrary, the Bible is filled with examples of God using culture and guiding or establishing cultural norms when dealing with His covenant people, including the fact that God organized Old Testament Israel along tribal lines. And Jesus Christ Himself was born in a Jewish culture that He loved, adhered to and respected. It is clear from Romans 13 and other places that Christians are not to be anarchists, subversives or other elements that debase and marginalize culture, because God uses some elements of culture to restrain evil. Amazingly, this actually does include false religion: consider that murder, adultery, theft etc. are considered sinful by Islam. These things are evidence of common grace, of God’s general revelation to all people. We have a merciful God who causes it to rain for the just and the unjust so that both can have water to drink and food to eat, and for that we rejoice!

However, the unjust are the unjust still. The Biblical record is clear: culture  – or at least higher culture beyond marriage, family and work – was an innovation of the seed of Cain acting apart from God’s special revelation or direct command. And Revelation tells us that Babylon, the result of Cain’s work (human civilization), will be judged for its wickedness, which include acts defiance against God and of persecution of God’s people throughout all of human history beginning with Cain’s murder of righteous Abel.

So, human culture is not to be engaged and reformed by the church. Instead, human culture’s fate is to be judged and destroyed by God, and replaced by New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem is not a human city built by fallen human efforts (which describes Cain’s city and all since) but a city built by God.  A city or civilization built by humans will have a fallen human culture that is not worth fighting for. But New Jerusalem will have a redeemed Godly culture that we will not have to fight for, and that is what the church should set its eyes in anticipation for. Instead of loving and fighting for that which is corrupt, fallen and will be destroyed (this world), we should love and fight for that which is redeemed and will last forever (the world to come).

Christians have no part in Cain’s city, and should not even desire or aspire to, for the very idea of being a stakeholder in something that is wicked and will be destroyed is folly. It is worse than buying stock in a company that you know will go bankrupt and be shut down. It is worse because the money that you invest in that stock is temporary, but investing your heart and labor into Babylon will have eternal consequences. That is why instead of loving and laboring for what man has built, Christians should instead labor for and love what GOD is building.

Before you ask about Old Jerusalem – which is of special interests to dispensational Christians and many others – realize that while that city was given an exalted status in the Bible for old covenant Jews, please realize that Jerusalem was not built by Israelites. Instead, the first reference to Jerusalem in the Bible has the city being ruled by a wicked pagan king, and associated with the Jebusites. Similar is true of Bethlehem: it was not built by Israelites, but was a pre-existing village built by pagans that Israel assumed control of. Please note that God did not have Israel build a new nation from scratch, but rather had them take possession of a nation that already had cities, villages, economic infrastructure etc. in place.

From this, we can deduce that God wanted to build His own permanent city for His own people, and that Jerusalem and Israel were to be the temporary schoolmasters. And we see evidence of this even in the Old Testament scriptures from Old Testament Israel, as even with them, the emphasis began to shift from Old Testament Israel and its physical temple to the eschatological Zion. Let us recall that in Acts, Stephen bore witness of the fact that with the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this shift had in fact taken place. The result: Stephen became the first Christian martyr, murdered by Jews in love with the temple built by human hands (including the very evil Herod!) and the physical city built by pagans.

Make no mistake, Stephen, who rejected the world, was martyred at the hands of those who were unwilling to separate from the culture, from the world. In this manner, Christians are to be as Stephen, and not as those who stoned him.

Please keep in mind: all those born again in Christ Jesus will have their portion in New Jerusalem. Those who do not will spend eternity with the lost in the lake of fire. If you are not born again in Christ Jesus, you will have no part in New Jerusalem. To be in Christ Jesus and have a part in New Jerusalem:

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Why Evolution Is “A Hill Christians Want To Die On”

Posted by Job on September 14, 2010

Rod Dreher, the so-called “crunchy (environmentalist I guess) conservative” religious right Catholic, criticized the ouster of Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke from Reformed Theological Seminary over prattling the “evangelical evolution” heresy of Francis Collins. Quoting Dreher (and why is a Catholic getting into a dispute between those who left Catholicism to begin with?):  “Why? It’s not clear, but this comes right after he was excoriated by other conservative Protestant figures for statements made in a video posted to the BioLogos website. (Full disclosure: BioLogos receives grant money from my employer, the John Templeton Foundation). According to an eyebrow-raising statement on the BioLogos site, Waltke stated in a video commentary that had been posted to the site that the church needed to come to terms with the fact of evolution, explaining that “if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.” He said that refusing to deal with science as it is will marginalize Christians.”

In case you missed it, Dreher states: “Full disclosure: BioLogos receives grant money from my employer, the John Templeton Foundation).”  So, Dreher criticizes a Christian seminary for forcing out a person who disagrees with the position of someone that his employer gave grant money to, and it is safe to presume that his employer did so because he agrees with the agenda of BioLogos to get as many supporters of the “theistic evolution” heresy into evangelical seminaries and pulpits as possible. And since the list of seminaries and Bible colleges that affirm Biblical creation is small (see this list!), it looks like Dreher’s employers are getting what they are paying for.

Now after indulging in some Mark Noll type “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” type Protestant bashing, religious right Catholic Dreher (who has been prominently and positively covered by Christianity Today and Pat Robertson’s CBN) reveals that it is inerrancy, and ultimately the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura, that is his real problem, and he conveniently quotes some “ex-evangelical” to portray the idea that Bible-believing Christians are actually Bible idolaters, because, you know, the Bible is inconvenient as it tends to restrict things like iconography (idolatry) and praying to “Virgin” Mary (idolatry) and to “saints” (idolatry). Dreher is able to get away with mocking Christian beliefs – including his several vicious attack on those who believe in the rapture – because he is conservative, and as a result religious right Ameri-Christians (the same who are embracing Glenn Beck) won’t go after him the way they did Barack Hussein Obama after his “clinging to God and guns” PRIVATE COMMENT.

But Albert Mohler clearly lays it out: evolution means no Adam and Eve. No Adam, and no original sin. No original sin, no need for the ministry and work of Jesus Christ for original sin on the cross, or for Jesus Christ to have been deity to perform this work, or to resurrect from the dead. Therefore, Christianity becomes semi-Pelagianism (like Dreher’s Catholicism) at best, a philosophical/ethical/political system around a failed revolutionary and reformer who left rambling, incomprehensible and incomplete teachings behind at worst, but generally for most people a works-based “earn your salvation” religion like Judaism, Mormonism, Hinduism and Islam. It is revealing that Karl Giberson, the “moderate Baptist” to whom Mohler responded, stated that evolution requires a Christian to formulate “new and better way to understand the origins of sin.” Of course, that requires a “new and better” religion than actual Christianity, and that is the whole point of evolution: rejection of Bible-based Christianity. As Rod Dreher belongs to a Catholicism that rejected legitimate Christianity over 1000 years ago, it is no coincidence at all that he supports others who also desire to turn others away from a Bible-based faith, the faith once delivered to the saints, and that he and others like him preach “tolerance”, “diversity”, “ecumenism”, “big-tent”, and denounce Biblical separation in favor of allowing people who reject the Bible to remain at our seminaries and Bible colleges and in our pulpits and congregations.

By the way, this is no “slippery slope” type of argument. Rejecting Biblical creation, trying to allegorize or symbolize Adam and Eve event, is no less than a rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Doing so pulls the very foundation away from the rest of the Bible, and as a result leaves no reason for the events of salvation history to have taken place to begin with. So yes, it is absolutely mandatory to have the position that one cannot believe in evolution and be a Christian, just as one cannot deny the deity of Jesus Christ or salvation by faith and do the same.

Now of course, the so-called evolutionary evangelicals will deny this. This is only because they are not being as intellectually honest as as Giberson. With no literal creation story, the doctrine of the cross as laid out by Paul in Romans (for instance) is totally unworkable and moot, because Paul’s federal headship atonement doctrine requires a literal, human Adam as the father of the human race. No first Adam, no need for a second Adam (Jesus Christ). And it also goes to the very heart of the meaning of Holy Spirit inspiration. For instance, it is obvious that Paul believed in a literal Adam and Eve and wrote Bible texts based on it, including not the aforementioned Romans passages, but also the 1 Timothy 2:14 passage that denies women the ability to hold the office of pastor-teacher based on Adam receiving the command from God (and attending covenant responsibility), not Eve. Why would the Holy Spirit use something that Paul was completely in error about as a basis for such vital doctrines as original sin, atonement, and the role of women in the church? If Holy Scriptures – and its foundational doctrinal points no less – are based on grievous errors and lies, then in what respect can they be considered “holy”? People for whom the Bible is not the final authority do not care about these things, and neither do those who reject inerrancy. But the evangelical who claims that evolution is compatible with the Bible is either fooling himself by refusing to think these issues through, or fooling others by rejecting these doctrines within himself while still desiring to be defined as an evangelical for his own reasons (including but not limited to retaining influence and other benefits).

So Christians, despite the fact that the world is going to mock and reject you over it, the fact remains that you are going to have to continue to refuse to reject the evolution falsehood, even when that ravening wolf comes in a so-called evangelical sheep’s clothing.

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Why The “We Need Female Leaders In The Church Because There Aren’t Enough Good Men” Is Just An Excuse For Rebellion And Sin

Posted by Job on August 17, 2010

Now, we have “evangelical feminists” on the move, demanding that the Biblical mandate for God-given roles to the sexes be discarded in favor of the current worldly fascination with the sort of social androgyny (the idea that there is no difference between the sexes that need to be respected) that homosexual Vaughn Walker used in his homosexual marriage advocacy from the bench. Further, in their pursuit of what is clearly an anti-Biblical agenda, they are employing the same rhetoric of the secular humanists feminists before them – as they are cut from the same cloth despite their evangelical pretensions – in claiming that Christians who support Biblical roles for males and females are contributing to spousal abuse, rape and child molestation. Of course, the recent explosion of such issues is due to society’s embrace of such notions as feminism and rejection of Biblical authority, not their fidelity to it. (I suppose that these evangelical feminists are going to claim that the early church, including the apostles who produced the New Testament, was this repository of child molesters and rapists. When you consider their outright rejection of inerrancy and Biblical authority in this matter, one would not be surprised if this is precisely what this group believes. Like the homosexual “Christians”, “evangelical feminists” ignore that these Bible interpretations have been handed down since the early church and are not the invention of a relatively recent group of bigots. Calling contemporary Christians misogynistic, homophobic child rapists for refusing to adhere to their current worldly interpretations means judging those who received the faith directly from Jesus Christ and His apostles as the same. But since honest theology and church history is not on their side, they resort to name-calling and appeals to the same body of “science” as is Freudian psychology and evolution that is used to justify homosexuality and a host of other abominations against one’s own body and other people.)

It seems that one of the more effective excuses to justify female church leadership – one that is gaining traction outside the Pentecostal and liberal theological circles that have long advocated for women pastors and leaders – is the shortage of suitable male leaders for the church. I do not deny the possibility that there is indeed a shortage of the number and type of male leaders required to staff our current ecclesiastical structure. However, the solution to that is to A) question if our (denominationally-driven) ecclesiastical structure is Biblical in the first place and B) realize that the abandonment of Biblical manhood and womanhood and a resulting environment of spiritual confusion and immaturity is a cause of this problem rather than the solution. Therefore, the way to have strong male leaders for the church going forward is for men and women to return to what the Bible commands rather than to use the spiritual condition of the contemporary church as an excuse to abandon it. Instead of looking for an excuse to justify sin and rebellion, we need to seek courage from the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to be faithful in this time of spiritual difficulty.

With that in mind, on my thread “Regarding Women Preachers: I Am Now Convinced That It Is Wrong” a Christian woman named Elsie made the following comment:

Paul says “I do not permit women to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” I agree with the word of God, but I see here that Paul says “I do not permit”, he did not say “God does not permit”.
I believe that only men have the authority to be pastors and leaders in the congregation. But I also believe that in some instances God has raised a woman to prophecy and to be a judge, etc.. When God chose these women to do a specific work, these women where humble women, godly women. I see in these days a lot of disharmony in the church with many women ministring. I don’t think they where called by God. One of the things that astonishes me is how these women dress when they stand in the pulpit. How can a man visit such congregation and stay connected with “the word” when this woman is dressed in a provocative way? There is nothing humble about that and there is nohing holy about that either. We have to be watchful and careful that we do not provoque others to fall.

I will allow her comment and my response below to serve as a rejoinder to those who might be deceived by evangelical feminism, including the argument “We need female leaders in the church because there aren’t enough good male leaders:

““I do not permit women to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” I agree with the word of God, but I see here that Paul says “I do not permit”, he did not say “God does not permit”.”When Paul was saying “I do not permit”, he was speaking from the position of authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ. So, what an apostle permitted or denied was based on revelation from Jesus Christ, and therefore binding to the church. That was the real meaning of the oft-misunderstood “binding and loosing” passages of Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18, which is that the apostles, being appointed by Jesus Christ and received the revelation directly from Jesus Christ, had the right to establish doctrines and practices for the early church and those thereafter. This is not to say that Paul was divine in any sense, only that he spoke in the Name of God just as did an Old Testament prophet. When Paul was giving an opinion that he didn’t want to be considered binding, he said so in verses like 1 Corinthians 7:6 when he gave his opinion that it is better not to marry. Please note that in another place (1 Titus 4:3) Paul called forbidding to marry a devil’s doctrine.

“But I also believe that in some instances God has raised a woman to prophecy and to be a judge, etc..”

That is clear. God also raises up female deacons. The issue is the offices [that the Bible restricts women from holding] of pastor and teacher, not of evangelist, prophet or deacon.

… the Bible clearly lays out the role of elder spiritually gifted women in the church, which is to instruct younger women in faith and practice and to tend to the moral and spiritual development of children. In these times Christian woman have despised the role intended and laid out by God for them in order to seek the roles that God has set aside for men. You can see the negative effects on young women and children that result from this neglect. Ironically, the confusion in the church that results in the neglect of young women and children (as confused young women and children today become the very confused people who wind up leading churches 30 years down the line) is what is used as an excuse to justify female pastors.

For instance, a lot of people claim that there should be women leaders because there aren’t enough suitable male leaders, and they use Deborah in the time of the Judges as their proof-text. What they ignore is that the lack of suitable male leaders is precisely because of the refusal of elder women to instruct young mothers and of young mothers to instruct young women. And the proof-text of this is not only that of the kings in Israel (meaning that the kings who had righteous mothers who followed the Lord themselves followed the Lord, but the kings who had wicked mothers turned away from the Lord, and this was the case regardless of the spiritual condition of the father … a godly king and a rotten queen would produce rotten a rotten kid inheriting the throne, but a rotten king and a godly queen would produce a good child who would go on to become king) but also that Deborah herself had to rule because of Israel’s spiritual apostasy, their turning against God, at the time.

So, it speaks volumes that the women who use the lack of suitable male leaders as an excuse to be pastors and teachers are perfectly willing to personally profit from the dire straits that the church is in. That makes you nothing but a spiritual scalawag or carpetbagger. (If you are not from the American South, look the terms up … they mean someone who exploits a great tragedy for personal gain.) The proper response for Christian women to the lack of good male leaders in this generation is to adhere to what the Bible says regarding instructing younger women and children so that the next generation will have strong male leaders for the church. And this is precisely what the God-fearing queens of Israel who were married to evil husbands did. They did not attempt coups against their husbands so that they could rule righteously in their husband’s stead. (Consider that the only female usurper of the throne of Israel was the Baal worshiper Athaliah.) Instead, they raised their sons to know and fear God so that righteous rule would return in the next generation. The righteous queens of Israel knew the merits of adhering to God’s plan instead of following after their own human designs. Christian women chasing feminism idolatry would do well to follow their example. This is ever so more the case of Pentecostal women for whom female pastors is commonly accepted, as Pentecostals are known for their particular emphasis on Old Testament types and examples.

So, if righteous Old Testament queens operating without the benefit of the full revelation of Jesus Christ were able and willing to do what was necessary to produce godly kings for Old Testament Israel, how much more should New Testament Christian women who have the full revelation of Jesus Christ be expected to do so? Those who reject the Bible on this issue in order to follow a corrupt and fallen worldly mindset are without excuse.

For a more exhaustive treatment of this issue, please read:

Why Women Cannot Be Preachers

And to begin conforming your life to God’s desires:

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan

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Evangelical Creation Care Environmentalism And Evolution

Posted by Job on January 29, 2010

Against Creation Care: Environmentalism And Evolution One And The Same

This post by brother Laz got me thinking about the common thread of thought which unites evolution and environmentalism. As far as global warming and pretty much all environmentalism goes (including “creation care” evangelicalism), it is just another way to reject the fact that God owns and controls the earth. God will determine the fate of mankind, when this cosmos comes to an end and is replaced with a heaven and a new earth. This global warming zealotry, with is religious intensity, is simply another way to reject God, and to replace the Christian belief system with another.

This is the same that motivates evolution. Evolution advocates are motivated by their determination to reject the idea that God owns creation and controls it. Now some, including a number of professed Christians, are willing to acknowledge that God accomplished creation. However, they are unwilling to acknowledge that God wholly owns it, sustains it, holds it in His hands, and is the sole determiner of its ultimate destiny. Acknowledging this fact makes man accountable to God, and requires that man live his life in service to Him. Environmentalism – the idea that man can destroy the earth either against God’s will or with God doing nothing to stop it – and evolution are merely attempts to deny that man’s purpose is nothing other than to serve, worship and glorify God. That is the sum total of the purpose and reason for man’s existence, it is the reason why God created man. Denying our imperative to serve God is the motivating factor for denying or minimizing God’s role in our creation through evolution, and the same is the goal of denying that God will determine the destiny of the earth and humankind through environmentalism.

And it explains the religious fervor attached to both, and the vehement Inquisition-like tactics that those who reject environmentalism and evolution are subjected to. Indeed, global warming dissenters are actually now
being accused of killing people (i.e. inaction on climate change because of skeptics is alleged to have caused natural disasters, diseases, famines etc.) and there are even claims that opposition to evolution is hindering medical breakthroughs that would save many lives. Such people are advancing the case that opposition to environmentalism and evolution can no longer be matters of private conscience, opinions that must be abided in a free society, but dangerous deadly notions that must be stamped out in order to save lives, or even humanity.

Of course, as evolution and environmentalism constitutes a different and competing belief system – a religion if you will – to Christianity, this should be no surprise. Why should the global warming/evolution crowd be any more accommodating to Christianity than Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, or the mythology of the ancient Roman Empire? The issue, then is why so many professed evangelicals are choosing the path of syncretism by becoming anti-global warming “creation care” Christians, thereby mixing a belief system based on and motivated by denying God’s sovereignty, providence, omnipotence, ownership rights over creation, and prerogative to exercise those rights with a Christian belief system that affirms all of those as core doctrines.

It is even more curious that many of these people fully embrace the “creation care” part while rejecting the evolution part, blissfully blinded to the fact that they are one and the same. Evidence of this is the common justification for the “creation care” idea: God gave (ceded!) dominion of the earth to man (Adam) so we must use it wisely. That is merely quasi-deism which ignores a great deal of Biblical content, including but not limited to the effects of the fall of Adam (i.e. the curse on Adam and rule of the earth transferring from Adam to Satan) and of course Jesus Christ being the second Adam and creation’s current, forever and rightful ruler. But then again, when your goal is to be relevant and influential within the cultural and political mainstream, why let a little theology or syncretism get in the way? And amazing that the dispensationalists among the creation care movement seem oblivious to the fact that the global warming ideology is ultimately motivated by a desire to reject the book of Revelation and the judgment of God upon the earth that it describes!

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Is Evangelicalism Confusion By Design?

Posted by Job on November 5, 2009

There are a lot of criticisms of evangelical Christianity. Some are legitimate issues aired by those motivated by or searching for doctrinal truth – particularly those which come from current or former evangelicals – but others represent sniping by agenda motivated or ill informed sectarians. I admit that in my criticisms of “evangelicalism” (to employ the derisive term, at least when it is wielded by sectarians that is) I was the latter of the latter: an ill-informed sectarian. I am still sectarian, but I would hope that I am now better informed.

My issue: evangelicalism’s melting pot nature. You have free will Christians and predestinarians. Pentecostals and cessationists. Premillennials and amillennials. Believer-immersers and baby-sprinklers. State churchers and free churchers. Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians and Lutherans and Anglicans oh my, and now even a Quaker or Messianic Jew or two!

Of course, this primarily exists for unity in the Body of Christ, fellowship and cooperation among all Bible-believing born again Christians. And that is very good. However, we should never forget that these denominations, for all their merits and good works, exist for a reason.

Now I am not talking about such things as denominational splits over whether to use electric instruments or not. Instead, these various Christian groups and movements all represent serious differences on very important areas of doctrine. Maybe they are not quite what Al Mohler calls the theological triage (http://www.albertmohler.com/?cat=Commentary&cdate=2004-05-20) but instead real differences that can have significant implications on what Christians believe and how we live out the faith.

Recall the “melting pot” analogy. In a nation of diverse cultures, that is a good thing, as it results in a blending of peoples that makes the whole more vibrant and cohesive. However, in religion it is not so good. Among different religions, it is the snare (to Christians anyway) of syncretism. But even among disparate Christian traditions – which again have legitimate reasons for existing – it results in a sort of leveling, a settling to the bottom (if not quite a race to the bottom) that shifts and pushes out whatever it was that made these disparate traditions special in the first place. Compare it to eating at restaurants. Instead of a really good Italian, Chinese or American restaurant that serves excellent and near authentic meals, you get this greasy buffet or cafeteria style cuisine where you can mash your spaghetti, french fries and stir-fried vegetables all onto the same platter without knowing or caring that they really don’t belong together so long as it goes down easy with your soft drink and your antacids keep it from coming back up again later.

I suppose that if you want to remain on the externals of the faith, the basics, or even if you penetrate somewhat deeper, that is fine. But if you really want to delve into the faith, then you are really in for it! On one hand, you have the teachers, preachers and theologians who simply want to stay “in the evangelical mainstream”, so they simply avoid topics that may offend the Methodists (or the Lutherans or the Baptists etc.) However, even those who maintain their distinctiveness can tie you in knots. You may attend a Presbyterian church, read a Baptist devotional, listen to a Methodist radio show, subscribe to an Anglican podcast and hear all of these doctrines, theologies, interpretations, systems etc. and it is a mishmash. No coherency of thought, no unity of message, but rather you start on one path, pick up another denominational thought mid-stream, then you hop on the other boat that you have no idea where it is taking you or why, and you wind up trapped in a labyrinth of religious ideas that is impossible to organize. The problem isn’t that you have all the pieces of a puzzle that you have to put together, for that is a challenge that, while daunting, is still achievable. The problem is also not that you have all the pieces of several puzzles that you have to put together to make several pictures, because even though the degree of difficulty may be several magnitudes greater, it is still theoretically feasible.

Instead, the problem is that you have pieces of DIFFERENT puzzles that you have to assemble together TO MAKE ONE PICTURE! Further, you don’t even possess all of the pieces required to make a single picture. Instead, you have some pieces of Arminianism, some pieces of Wesleyanism, some pieces of Lutheranism, some pieces of dispensationalism, some pieces of Pentecostalism etc. that you have to fit together, a goal that is not so much impossible – for with God all things are possible – as it is suspect. It is confusion, and God is not the author of confusion. It results in our simply having to omit and not talk about things – important things! – for the sake of unity (or rather simply to avoid interminable arguments), and because of the gaps and discontinuities, so little deep and wide Bible knowledge exists. Instead, there are just fragments, pieces – and a lot of them! – that float around unorganized. That may be precisely why political and cultural issues – worldly things – are such a draw, because they provide a structure, some sort of framework or interpretative filter, for all of these religious and doctrinal ideas that otherwise do not exist. (We may not be able to agree on sanctification or the atonement, but we can at least all agree to vote pro-family, because, hey, it is something that we can understand so that what really counts!)

Incidentally, many of our leading seminaries only add to this issue. So many are “interdenominational evangelical” by design. Still others profess denominational distinctives but think nothing of hiring faculty from other denominations (i.e. Albert Mohler’s Southern Baptist seminary hiring Presbyterians) or using the standard “evangelical” textbooks that are either shorn of doctrinal distinctives or present surface level summaries of all the “major and mainstream” evangelical viewpoints without endorsing one or the other. Result: the Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Church of Christ etc. product of such a seminary will hardly be able to articulate why he adheres to a particular denominational tradition unless he was already firmly rooted in such convictions before he entered.

Now of course, no one denomination has a monopoly on the truth. So, my intent is not to promote my own particular tradition as the only true way and demand that all you heretics end your rebellious ways and join it lest you perish. Instead, I am forming the opinion that it is very important for a person to stick with a particular denomination or line of doctrinal thought and learn all the truth that he possibly can in the context of that one tradition. It is not that a person cannot learn truth from another tradition, but rather that if a person is not fully grounded in a single system, does not fully understand the great doctrines as presented in an organized coherent whole by one denomination or tradition, he won’t be so much as learning from another tradition as he is adding more layers to his religious patchwork hash. It is the equivalent of trying to teach French and Polish to a child that hasn’t mastered English yet.

And yes, there is a discernment angle, an apologetics angle, to this. With passing time I see more and more efforts by evangelicals to dialogue with and reach out to Roman Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses (ok, Jehovah’s Witnesses not so much) etc. Interfaith exchanges, ecumenism, and so forth are the passion of the day, especially when the goals of such exchanges are cooperation in doing good works (and of course fighting political and cultural battles). Is it because we are so hesitant to unequivocably state our differences with each other that we also lose the courage to state our differences with other faiths?

Honestly, I say no. I am not at all stating that because evangelical Presbyterian hesitates in boldly telling an evangelical Episcopalian, Methodist and Baptist why he is Presbyterian that he is similarly unwilling to demarcate himself from a Mormon, Jew or Catholic. Instead, I am proposing that because of the evangelical melting pot, the evangelical homogeneity, the evangelical confusion such a Presbyterian may not comprehend the distinctive depths of his own tradition – and thereby be hindered from using tradition to interpret the Biblical faith – well enough to know why pursuing such endeavors as “Evangelicals And Catholics Together” or “Christians United For Israel” is insanity. There is a distinction between Presbyterians, Baptists and Pentecostals worshiping the same Jesus Christ a different way and Christians and Roman Catholics worshiping a different Jesus Christ altogether. You can have real fellowship and communion with the former, but you should have nothing to do with the latter except evangelism. That is one of the many areas that so many evangelicals do not understand because they don’t know enough about their own tradition, which is a real barrier to a deep and wide knowledge of Biblical Christianity.

We cannot learn the faith piecemeal, with bits and snippets assembled here and there. The faith must be presented and understood orderly and systematically. The best way – perhaps the only way – may well be to get out of the evangelical melting pot and committing oneself to studying the faith in an organized, coherent manner.

This is not to be confused as a manifesto for denominationalism, for it does not promote a particular denomination. Instead, this merely advocates finding a particular tradition that trains people in Biblical Christianity and learning all that one can through it.

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Roman Catholics Slowly Infiltrating The Evangelical Christian Publishing Industry

Posted by Job on October 30, 2009

Please read

Is Your VBS Taking a Vacation from the Gospel?

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The Dangers Of Emotional Sentimental Christianity

Posted by Job on September 16, 2009

By Kevin Bauder on Sharper Iron.

The evangelical mixture from which Fundamentalism developed made serious concessions to populism. Charles Finney took those concessions to an extreme by patterning the inner ministry of the church after the worlds of commerce, politics, and entertainment. Finney made these adaptations at the precise moment when popular culture was coming into existence. The result was that the predecessors of Fundamentalism invested heavily in adapting their Christianity to popular culture. Fundamentalism inherited this link with popular culture and has perpetuated it rather consistently through the years.

Popular culture came into its own during the Victorian-Edwardian era.1 It provided a channel through which Victorian influences began to affect the lived Christianity of most American evangelicals, and consequently of the Fundamentalists who came after them. While Fundamentalists have not been alone in attempting to assimilate popular culture into Christianity, they have been among the foremost.

One of the main characteristics of Victorian popular culture was its sentimentalism. Victorians did not invent sentimentalism, but they made it a significant aspect of their mental and emotional furniture. As the predecessors of Fundamentalism absorbed Victorian popular culture, they imported its sentimentalism into their Christianity.2

Sentimentalism is more than simple overindulgence in emotion. It is a combination of two factors. First, it attaches the wrong degree or kind of emotion to an object. Second, it pursues emotion for the sake of the emotion itself.

Historically, Christians understood each object or activity to merit a certain emotional response (an ordinate affection). To feel more strongly toward a thing than it merited was considered sentimental; to feel less strongly was considered brutal. Alternatively, to direct toward one thing a feeling that rightly belonged to another was also either sentimental or brutal, depending upon the quality of the feeling and its harmony with the object.

Sentimental people mismatch feelings to objects by incorrectly perceiving the value of the objects themselves. They smooth out or eliminate the complicated nature of being and feeling. Consequently, the feelings themselves are sweetened or otherwise imbalanced.3

Dickens is a good illustration of sentimentalism. His characters tend to be one-dimensional stereotypes. Feelings aroused by those characters are clichéd and, from a later perspective, simply corny. For example, little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop is such an impossibly sweet character that it is ridiculous to think of her as human at all. She is more like a porcelain doll. When Nell dies, the reader is supposed to be overcome with pathos. A person who understands what real thirteen-year-olds are like, however, is more likely to be overcome with the humor of the situation. Dickens attempted to evoke a sense of sorrow that far outweighed the value of Nell’s character.4

Nell was one of Dickens’s most popular characters. Why? Because sentimentalism is more concerned with the experience of the emotion than with its object. Dickens’s readers really wanted to feel the kind of bathetic sadness that he tried to evoke. Their clichéd grief, however, was very different from the misery that one experiences at the grave of a real girl. It was a feeling that people could relish. They could and did wallow in it. Their faux sorrow existed for its own sake, not for the sake of the plastic character toward whom it was directed.

A sentimental person is more interested in the feeling than in the object. The feeling must be quickly aroused and predictable. The words stereotype and cliché really are applicable to the process that occurs.

Because sentimentalism exists for the sake of the emotion, the focus naturally turns toward the individual who feels the emotion. As sentimentalism develops, it focuses less and less upon the object of sentiment, and more and more upon the quality of the sentiment itself. A sentimental song cannot say why a boy loves a girl. All it can say is how very, very, very much he loves her. As people become more sentimental they become more and more occupied with their own inner states, eventually resulting in profound self-absorption.

The consequences of sentimentalism for Christianity were profound. For example, sentimentalism changed the very categories in which unconditional election and efficacious calling were debated. Previous generations had resorted mainly to arguments about the nature of freedom (this approach can be found as late as Finney). The new sentimentalism, however, completely changed the way that people saw God. God was no longer complicated. He was no longer terrible in His holiness. He was not a God who hid Himself or who left His children weeping in perplexity.5 Rather, His fundamental attribute became niceness. God was now thought to be the quintessence of fair-mindedness. Such a God would never barge into an unresponsive heart. Furthermore, His niceness and even-handedness required Him to do everything that He could possibly do for every single sinner. It was unthinkable that God might do more for some (call them the “elect”) than He might do for others.6

Salvation was also sentimentalized. The unsaved were no longer regarded as rebels, lawbreakers, and criminals. They were now seen as poor, lost, lonely wanderers who needed to be shown the way home. The problem with sin was no longer that it scandalized justice and offended moral sense, but that it left the sinner weary, empty, and sad. The question became, “Are you weary? Are you heavy-hearted?” The invitation to salvation was no longer to repent, but to “Come home, come home, ye who are weary come home.” And, of course, the response was, “I’ve wandered far away from God. Now I’m coming home.”

Eternity was sentimentalized. Christians used to think of heavenly places primarily as the throne of God and Christ: “The Prince is ever in them.” Faced with the wonder of their eternal home, the faithful had exclaimed, “Beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed!” Such a complicated view of eternity had to be flattened out. Heaven was transformed into a kind of church picnic in which a big family reunion would take place. The redeemed could now express their expectation of a spiritual romp to the rollicking, “Oh that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me.”

Even the Lord Jesus was transformed by the sentimentalism of the age. No longer was He viewed primarily as the transcendent sovereign who was coming to judge the quick and the dead. He was now seen primarily as a friend (oh, such a friend).7 This shift probably grew from a desire to emphasize intimacy with Christ, but it resulted in two gross misapprehensions of spiritual closeness. On the one hand, Christ was envisioned more and more as buddy or chum, and spiritual intimacy gave way to mere familiarity. On the other hand, a growing body of expression began to envision Jesus as a kind of spiritual boyfriend and to speak of intimacy in terms of romantic love. People came to the garden alone while the dew was still on the roses in order to meet the Son of God in a parody of a lover’s tryst. From a later perspective, such expressions seem scandalously comical. At the time, however, there were plenty of people whose vision of spirituality was significantly shaped by such stereotyped clichés.8

Finally, under the influence of sentimentalism the role of the individual changed. Expressions of piety became more subjective and self-focused. The perfections of God and the splendor of His plan were pushed to the side as the emotional experience and expression of the worshipper assumed center stage.

These were the influences that Fundamentalism inherited.9 They are the same influences that continue to affect the movement. The shape of sentimentalism has changed, but Fundamentalists in general have either tried to adapt to its latest expressions or else to perpetuate the older expressions as if they were somehow the faith itself.

The past three essays have attempted to define the intellectual and cultural location of Fundamentalism. They have expounded three influences that shaped the evangelical movement out of which Fundamentalism emerged. Those influences were Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism. All three influences were detrimental, and all three continue to affect the Fundamentalist movement.

To understand Fundamentalism better, we next need to discuss the theological environment out of which it developed. Before that discussion can take place, however, a few loose ends need to be tied up. To do that, I want to go back and to answer certain nagging questions about the matters we have been discussing. In other words, it is time for a digression.


1 The Victorian era properly ends with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. Victorian sensibilities continued to remain influential throughout the Edwardian period, which is typically extended past the death of Edward VII to the end of the Great War. During the Edwardian period, however, a transition was taking place that would produce the Jazz Age following the World War.

2 Victorian sentimentalism is one of the commonplaces of literary and historical discussion. Recently, however, it has come in for a good bit of scholarly examination. One of the more influential recent volumes in Victorian sentimentalism is Fred Kaplan, Sacred Tears: Sentimentality in Victorian Literature (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987). Another influential discussion occurs in Murray Roston, Victorian Contexts: Literature and the Visual Arts (New York: New York University Press, 1996). Recent interaction with both of these authors is provided by Suzy Anger, Knowing the Past: Victorian Literature and Culture (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press).

3 A brief but helpful discussion of sentimentalism can be found under the heading “Sentimentality” in Karl Beckson and Arthur Ganz, Literary Terms: A Dictionary (New York: Farrar, Strous and Giroux, 1975), 228-229. See also Thomas Winter, “Sentimentality” in Bret E. Carroll, ed., American Masculinities: A Historical Encyclopedia (New York: Moschovitis Group, 2003), 414-416.

4 For a thorough treatment of Dickens, see George H. Ford, Dickens and His Readers (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1955) or, more recently, Mary Lenard, Preaching Pity: Dickens, Gaskell, and Sentimentalism in Victorian Culture (Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature, Vol. 11) (New York: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 1999).

5 Psalm 88.

6 My point is not to argue for either side in the debate. It is simply to note the shift in the kinds of arguments that seemed plausible to Christian people. Sentimental arguments about what God’s love or fairness obligate Him to do would have been met with incredulity from both sides a few generations earlier.

7 It is noteworthy that in Scripture, we are never told to address Jesus individually as a friend, though His enemies accused Him of being the friend of publicans and sinners. He names us as His friends, but that is a very different matter. The shift to “friend” language as a norm for defining one’s relationship with Christ represents a very marked downgrading of esteem for Him.

8 There is a legitimate use of marriage imagery to depict the relationship between God and the soul or Christ and the church. Also, Christians have sometimes employed sexual imagery to explain the simultaneous longing and self-forgetfulness of spiritual intimacy, together with the awful nakedness of the soul before God. All of this is miles away from the “Jesus is my boyfriend” sentimentalism of the Victorian period.

9 Daryl Hart, “When Is a Fundamentalist a Modernist? J. Gresham Machen, Cultural Modernism, and Conservative Protestantism,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 65:3 (Autumn 1997), 605-633.

The Recovery

Thomas Traherne (1636-1674)

Sin! wilt thou vanquish me?
And shall I yield the victory?
Shall all my joys be spoil’d,
And pleasures soil’d
By thee?
Shall I remain
As one that’s slain
And never more lift up the head?
Is not my Saviour dead?
His blood, thy bane, my balsam, bliss, joy, wine,
Shall thee destroy; heal, feed, make me divine.

This essay is by Dr. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN).

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Is The Reformation Over?

Posted by Job on September 7, 2009

Right Now Counts Forever

Is the Reformation Over?

by R.C. Sproul Is the Reformation over? There have been several observations rendered on this subject by those I would call “erstwhile evangelicals.” One of them wrote, “Luther was right in the sixteenth century, but the question of justification is not an issue now.” A second self-confessed evangelical made a comment in a press conference I attended that “the sixteenth-century Reformation debate over justification by faith alone was a tempest in a teapot.” Still another noted European theologian has argued in print that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is no longer a significant issue in the church. We are faced with a host of people who are defined as Protestants but who have evidently forgotten altogether what it is they are protesting.

Contrary to some of these contemporary assessments of the importance of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, we recall a different perspective by the sixteenth-century magisterial Reformers. Luther made his famous comment that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls. John Calvin added a different metaphor, saying that justification is the hinge upon which everything turns. In the twentieth century, J.I. Packer used a metaphor indicating that justification by faith alone is the “Atlas upon whose shoulder every other doctrine stands.” Later Packer moved away from that strong metaphor and retreated to a much weaker one, saying that justification by faith alone is “the fine print of the gospel.”

The question we have to face in light of these discussions is, what has changed since the sixteenth century? Well, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that people have become much more civil and tolerant in theological disputes. We don’t see people being burned at the stake or tortured on the rack over doctrinal differences. We’ve also seen in the past years that the Roman communion has remained solidly steadfast on other key issues of Christian orthodoxy, such as the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, and the inspiration of the Bible, while many Protestant liberals have abandoned these particular doctrines wholesale. We also see that Rome has remained steadfast on critical moral issues such as abortion and ethical relativism. In the nineteenth century at Vatican Council I, Rome referred to Protestants as “heretics and schismatics.” In the twentieth century at Vatican II, Protestants were referred to as “separated brethren.” We see a marked contrast in the tone of the different councils. The bad news, however, is that many doctrines that divided orthodox Protestants from Roman Catholics centuries ago have been declared dogma since the sixteenth century. Virtually all of the significant Mariology decrees have been declared in the last 150 years. The doctrine of papal infallibility, though it de facto functioned long before its formal definition, was nevertheless formally defined and declared de fide (necessary to believe for salvation) in 1870 at Vatican Council I. We also see that in recent years the Roman communion has published a new Catholic catechism, which unequivocally reaffirms the doctrines of the Council of Trent, including Trent’s definition of the doctrine of justification (and thus affirms that council’s anathemas against the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone). Along with the reaffirmations of Trent have come a clear reaffirmation of the Roman doctrine of purgatory, indulgences, and the treasury of merits.

At a discussion among leading theologians over the issue of the continued relevance of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, Michael Horton asked the question: “What is it in the last decades that has made the first-century gospel unimportant?” The dispute over justification was not over a technical point of theology that could be consigned to the fringes of the depository of biblical truth. Nor could it be seen simply as a tempest in a teapot. This tempest extended far beyond the tiny volume of a single teacup. The question, “what must I do to be saved?” is still a critical question for any person who is exposed to the wrath of God.

Even more critical than the question is the answer, because the answer touches the very heart of gospel truth. In the final analysis, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed at Trent and continues to affirm now that the basis by which God will declare a person just or unjust is found in one’s “inherent righteousness.” If righteousness does not inhere in the person, that person at worst goes to hell and at best (if any impurities remain in his life) goes to purgatory for a time that may extend to millions of years. In bold contrast to that, the biblical and Protestant view of justification is that the sole grounds of our justification is the righteousness of Christ, which righteousness is imputed to the believer, so that the moment a person has authentic faith in Christ, all that is necessary for salvation becomes theirs by virtue of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. The fundamental issue is this: is the basis by which I am justified a righteousness that is my own? Or is it a righteousness that is, as Luther said, “an alien righteousness,” a righteousness that is extra nos, apart from us — the righteousness of another, namely, the righteousness of Christ? From the sixteenth century to the present, Rome has always taught that justification is based upon faith, on Christ, and on grace. The difference, however, is that Rome continues to deny that justification is based on Christ alone, received by faith alone, and given by grace alone. The difference between these two positions is the difference between salvation and its opposite. There is no greater issue facing a person who is alienated from a righteous God.

At the moment the Roman Catholic Church condemned the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, she denied the gospel and ceased to be a legitimate church, regardless of all the rest of her affirmations of Christian orthodoxy. To embrace her as an authentic church while she continues to repudiate the biblical doctrine of salvation is a fatal attribution. We’re living in a time where theological conflict is considered politically incorrect, but to declare peace when there is no peace is to betray the heart and soul of the gospel.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and president of Ligonier Ministries and senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s in Sanford, Florida, and he is author of the book Faith Alone.

For more than thirty years, Dr. R.C. Sproul has thoroughly and concisely analyzed weighty theological, philosophical, and biblical topics in Right Now Counts Forever, drawing out practical applications for the Christian in his own engaging style.

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Posted in Christianity | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Are Billy Graham’s Beliefs Anti-Christ?

Posted by Job on May 17, 2009

From Ephesians511, who is back with his site puretruth63 on Youtube and Pure Truth blog.

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

 
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