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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:

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

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Three Views On Jesus Christ

Posted by Job on August 29, 2009

Lordship view:

Popular with Reformed and Calvinist churches. Jesus Christ is presented primarily as ruling sovereign king. Transcendence of Jesus Christ is emphasized. A main view of the effects of His incarnation was to sanctify creation with His presence, and the emphasis of His work on the cross is that of being the giver and head of the new covenant and to transfer dominion from Israel to the church. This emphasis on Jesus Christ – as Lord and King and head of the covenant – correlates to the aim of such bodies to view themselves as extensions and agents – the Body – of Jesus Christ’s kingship and rule on earth. Because Jesus Christ sanctified the earth with His presence, that increases the prominence of natural theology and general revelation as ways of knowing, understanding and having a relationship with God. Further, it makes it fitting and appropriate for Christians to seek to subdue and rule the earth by political, economic, cultural and military means as a way of worshiping and glorifying God. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is mediated through western culture and institutions which God through His providence used and created to improve worldly conditions, spread the gospel, and prepare the world for His coming. Jesus Christ’s Lordship, kingdom and influence are spread primarily through cultural, political and military means, and such things largely take the role of personal evangelism and missionary work in infant baptism cultures. Thus, attacks on western culture and institutions are seen as direct attacks on God’s kingdom, God’s plan to redeem the world, and ultimately on Jesus Christ Himself. Due to Jesus Christ’s being depicted as Lord and King and thus viewed in the context of European and other Gentile kings (remote, detached, very difficult or impossible to directly or personally know or relate to) worship is liturgical, sacramental, even mystical with preaching de-emphasized to the point where often reading the pastor’s sermon notes is a more productive activity than being present for the sermon’s oral delivery. Very little practical attention is given to God the Father or the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ’s humanity. Eschatology: often amillennial or postmillennial.

Savior view:

Popular in free will evangelical and fundamentalist churches. Jesus Christ is presented primarily as Savior. Heavy emphasis on Jesus Christ’s humanity, particularly the very safe approachable nonthreatening imagery of a baby in a manger and other views emphasizing Jesus Christ’s immanence. Primary role of incarnation is to make Jesus Christ human in order to facilitate a personal relationship with Him: Jesus Christ as friend, buddy, confidante, parent (particularly as it relates to parents’ giving their children gifts, reassurance, and nurturing), “sounding board/venting object”, or even lover. Please note: the ability to accept or reject friendship and personal relationship with another human is always by personal discretion, and both humans have equal rights to set the relationship’s terms, including the depth and intensity of the relationship. Jesus Christ’s deity is depicted in context of His ability to work miracles and teach during His earthly ministry and His being an effective in His role in dying for sins, and His ability to live a sinless life. Jesus Christ’s role as Lord and King is practically limited to His headship of the Body of Christ and is only stated factually or doctrinally as the justification for congregational church polity. In practice, Jesus Christ’s actual rule or dominion is deferred until judgment day, the millennium, and in heaven. The role of the Holy Spirit is to comfort Christians, give Christians friendly but non-coercive and not truly binding moral advice, and to help Christians deepen their friendship and bond with Jesus Christ; to make a relationship that is in many respects little different from a one-sided self-serving relationship with another natural human into a spiritual relationship. Ultimately, friendship with Jesus Christ meets the need of the Christian, first to escape eternal damnation, and second to meet or fulfill personal or emotional needs during challenging, difficult and uncertain lives. Note: a high percentage of people adhering to this form of Christianity are children of divorced parents, people who were abused or neglected as children, low income people, and women. God the Father is depicted in terms of an ideal human father and His relationship with Jesus Christ depicted as the ideal relationship between a parent and son, which is a source of reassurance and comfort (and also a goal) of people whose lives have been affected by family dysfunction and failure to live up to the western middle class ideal family image, with the Body of Christ offering the promise of a true, real stable family that meets true and idealized emotional needs that will finally be fulfilled in heaven. Result is an outsized emphasis on good families as the solution to personal and spiritual needs, with some going so far as to claim that the family is a type of the Holy Trinity or that the Holy Trinity is the model for the family (see Wayne Grudem and James Dobson). Thus, a major goal is the creation and preservation of not only a church system but also a worldly culture (i.e. government, politics, economics, values) that is “family-friendly.” The role of worship is to meet human emotional needs, often meaning entertainment and cathartic release for lower income people and intellectual stimulation for higher income and more educated people. The goal is to relate to Jesus Christ on a personal or human level, often using the relationship with Jesus Christ  as a substitute for flawed human relationships with spouses, parents, children, friends etc. Heavy emphasis on personal evangelism and missionary work, but the driving force is often eschatological beliefs or a desire to “grow the Christian family” (meaning creating more people to enjoy relationships with) and generally rely on human initiative and methodology. Growing integration of psychology and psychiatry with Christianity to meet the emotional needs of church members. Also increasing emphasis on “personal spirituality”, to “worship God my own way” and an increasing conviction that God’s grace accommodates the desire to satisfy or fulfill personal and emotional needs, including giving license to engage in conduct forbidden by scripture. This trend includes – but is not limited to – the emergent church. Preaching  is often exhortary, entertaining or emotionally charged, with an emphasis on narratives that relate to the personal experiences and needs of the listeners that causes them to recognize their own traits – or the traits of loved ones – in the sermons. Eschatology: often dispensational.

Lord and Savior view:

Begins with the Trinity, as God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and God the Son work together to create, redeem and sustain a community of believers as the ultimate goal of accomplishing creation, and such things are done for the pleasure and glory of the Godhead as opposed to the benefit of believers, though believers do certainly benefit and are exceedingly grateful. Jesus Christ is Lord of all for times past, future and present and graciously took upon the role of Savior.  Jesus Christ’s present dominion is not extended to the political, economic, military or cultural systems of the world, but instead is limited to the church over which He is Head and whose dominion all members of the church must continually submit to. The goal of worship and praise is to glorify and honor Jesus Christ, and Christ rewards those who glorify and honor Him by using the Holy Spirit to give them joy and other gifts and fruits. Evangelism is a worship activity done to glorify Jesus Christ, to fulfill the mandates of scripture, to provide Jesus Christ with more servants, to act as God’s servants in carrying out His plan of salvation, and to give more people the benefits of salvation. Christians can appreciate general revelation and natural theology as part of their praise and worship of God, but can only know God through special revelation, which includes the Holy Scriptures and Holy Spirit illumination which reveals the Son who in turn reveals God the Father. A very personal relationship with Jesus Christ is possible, but only on Jesus Christ’s terms which cause the believer to respect Jesus Christ’s holiness and sovereignty. Thus the rules of engagement between Jesus Christ and the believer are not as equals with the focus on Jesus Christ’s meeting the believer’s needs as the believer asks (which is the believer taking the initiative) but rather a relationship where Jesus Christ takes the initiative and it is the responsibility of the believer to obediently respond. In this way, Jesus Christ is Lord and King, but not after the detached manner of human kings, but a King that one can truly know and relate with, a King who allows us to continually eat bread at His table not because He is deficient in any way and needs our company but because it is to His pleasure and glory that we accompany Him. Attacks on culture, governments and institutions are regrettable for such things are servants of God and act to restrain evil, but ultimately are not attacks on Jesus Christ Himself, whose current dominion is now spiritual over the church and whose realized dominion over the earth – one that He will exert with a rod of iron – is yet to come. Presently only attacks against believers are attacks against Jesus Christ. Relationships with other believers are based on shared beliefs, common membership in Jesus Christ’s Body, and exercise of spiritual gifts as opposed to values, family or culture. Emphasis of preaching is to inform people about God’s nature; to reveal God to hearers so that the hearers will respond to the revelation of God. Churches and pastors with this view of God are present within virtually any legitimate Protestant Christian denomination or movement, however such churches and pastors always represent a decided minority in whatever denomination or movement they are in. Eschatology: can be amillennial, postmillennial, dispensational or chiliast. Practically, eschatology is de-emphasized in favor of an emphasis on God’s eternal plan and nature.

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On the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements

Posted by Job on July 26, 2008

Some Reflections on the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements, Part 1

by SharperIron at 12:00 am July 25, 2008. 203 views. Filed under: Charismatics, Pentecostalism Print This Post/Page

Note: This article is reprinted from The Faith Pulpit (January 2001), a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA).

by George Houghton, Th.D.

I. Their Distinctive

While there are many beliefs held by Pentecostals and Charismatics, the one which is held in common among them and which distinguishes them from others is the belief that the supernatural spiritual gifts evident in New Testament times ought to be practiced today, including tongues, miracles, healings, and prophecy.

II. Their Heritage

The modern Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements are of fairly recent origin. While certain phenomena might have been observed occasionally in the later 1800s, the movement itself did not begin until the early 1900s, with the first of three distinct waves.

A. The First Wave: Traditional/Classical Pentecostalism

1. Its History

The first wave began with the ministry of Wesleyan evangelist Charles Parham and his Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas. He assigned his students the study of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and asked whether tongues-speaking ought to be evidence of this work of the Spirit. His own conviction was that the two were associated, and he was strengthened in his position when, in early 1901, one of his students spoke in tongues.

W. J. Seymour, a black evangelist who studied under Parham in Houston, Texas, was invited by a Nazarene lady to speak at her church in Los Angeles. He accepted the invitation, but the church leaders did not accept his Pentecostal emphasis and locked the church doors so that he could not preach there. He and those who followed him moved to rented quarters on Azusa Street, and from there, in 1906, the Azusa Street Pentecostal Revival spread.

Because the Pentecostal message was not accepted by already-existing groups, new independent Pentecostal churches and denominations sprang up. In 1914 the Assemblies of God denomination was founded, and about the same time what is known today as the United Pentecostal Church was formed. Some of the more well-known Pentecostal leaders and evangelists were A. A. Allen, Oral Roberts (in his early days), and Aimee Semple McPherson.

2. Distinctive Views

Many of the early Pentecostals came from Holiness and Arminian backgrounds that emphasized one’s responsibility to turn from sin and one’s ability to choose to do what is right. They tended to hold to traditional evangelical doctrine, although a significant number of them denied the Trinity, emphasizing a “oneness” teaching of Modalism in which God is sometimes seen as Father, sometimes as Son, and sometimes as Holy Spirit.

The traditional Pentecostals often shared certain characteristics with fundamentalists—belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, man’s sinfulness, Christ’s substitutionary death for our salvation, a dispensational and premillennial outlook on future events, and strict standards for holy and godly living—yet the two groups did not work closely with each other. This separation was due, at least in part, to differences over the issues of continuing revelation, the place of emotionalism in church meetings, the doctrinal basis for victory in one’s Christian life, and the validity and significance of the so-called supernatural sign gifts of the Spirit today. The Pentecostal conviction that the outward sign of Holy Spirit baptism was speaking in tongues was especially emphasized.

B. The Second Wave: The Charismatic Movement/Neo-Pentecostalism

1. Its History

In the mid to late 1950s, clergy and laymen from a number of major Protestant groups experienced a speaking-in-tongues phenomenon. Instead of leaving their Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, or Baptist denomination, they used the charismatic experiences as a means of renewal for themselves personally, their local church, and their denominational groups. The Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International, begun in the early 1950s, served as a bridge between the more traditional Pentecostalism of the first wave and those who would become a part of the second wave, including pastors and lay people from the mainline Protestant groups who were open to the Pentecostal phenomenon. Key leaders among this neo-Pentecostalism have been Oral Roberts (since the mid to late 1960s), Dennis and Rita Bennett, Pat Boone, Pat Robertson, the editors of Christian Life magazine, and David DuPlessis. The widely publicized ministries of Jim and Tammy Bakker with their PTL Club and Jimmy Swaggart—although all three were from traditional Pentecostal backgrounds—also greatly contributed to the spread of the second wave.

By 1966, some Roman Catholics at Duquesne University (Pittsburg) had been reading John Sherrill’s book, They Speak With Other Tongues, and David Wilkerson’s The Cross and the Switchblade. They were impressed with the power and results seen in these charismatic reports, and on January 20, 1967, a Roman Catholic theology professor at Duquesne spoke in tongues. By March of that year the phenomenon had spread to Roman Catholics at the University of Notre Dame and shortly thereafter to Roman Catholics at the Newman Center, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan became spokespersons for the tongues aspect of the second wave.

2. Distinctive Views

Leaders from the first wave of classical Pentecostalism came out of backgrounds that involved basic traditional doctrines, and these teachings were carried over into their new movement. Many of the clergy who became a part of the second wave often had formal denominational education which was more liturgical and accepting of higher critical views of the Bible. This training would not have grounded them in the fundamentals of the faith as evangelicals and fundamentalists understood them. When these people accepted Charismatic views, they did not necessarily repudiate all that they had been taught in their formal ministerial training, nor did their lifestyle standards conform to those of the older Pentecostalism. In fact, major denominational leaders who were not attracted to Charismatic phenomena watched these neo-Pentecostals very closely in their respective groups, to see how it changed them attitudinally and doctrinally. What they found generally was that the Charismatic experience made these men more loyal to their denominational groups and traditions. The major change was an emphasis upon devotional experience, described in language borrowed from the more traditional Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism.

C. The Third Wave: The Signs and Wonders Movement

1. Its History

In the early 1980s the Vineyard Christian Fellowship movement began with the ministry of John Wimber in California. He believed that people would become convinced of the genuineness of Christianity by seeing miraculous signs and wonders from God more than by being convinced doctrinally. He not only practiced this belief in the church he pastored, but he also teamed up with missions professor Peter Wagner to teach and encourage its practice in the Signs and Wonders class at Fuller Seminary. Others who emphasized these signs and wonders include Christian psychologist and speaker John White, former Dallas Seminary professor Jack Deere, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School faculty member Wayne Grudem. Support for this emphasis has also come from the ministries of such recognized Christian leaders as John Piper.

2. Distinctive Views

The movement’s supporters come from various evangelical backgrounds and do not necessarily want to be identified with traditional man-centered Pentecostal views. Some, in fact, have strong Calvinistic convictions. But all stress the presence of genuine signs and wonders from God today. Tongues-speaking is not emphasized as much as in the more traditional Pentecostal groups, but healings and especially the gift of prophecy are very prominent.

D. Other Contemporary Charismatic Emphases

Also present in more recent years are the ministries of several others who have a strongly charismatic approach and emphasis. These include those who emphasize a “health and wealth” gospel; the ministries of charismatic teachers such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, and Kenneth Copeland; and the current ministries of Oral and Richard Roberts, John Arnott and the Toronto Blessing, Paul Cain and the Kansas City Prophets, and Rodney Howard-Browne and John Kilpatrick of the Brownsville Assembly of God Church and the Pensacola Outpouring Revival.

George G. Houghton, Th.D., serves as Senior Professor, Vice President for Academic Services, and Academic Dean at Faith Baptist Bible College and Seminary (Ankeny, IA). He has earned the following degrees: B.A., Bethel College; B.D., Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary; Th.M. and Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary. He has served in the following capacities: faculty, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1967-73; faculty, teaching Bible, Theology, and History subjects, Faith Baptist Bible College, 1973-; Academic Dean, Faith Baptist Bible College, 1982-; Vice President for Academic Services, Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, 1986-.

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A Sermon On The Meaning of Adoption

Posted by Job on February 23, 2008

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A Sermon On The Meaning Of Reconciliaton

Posted by Job on February 23, 2008

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A Man After God’s Own Heart Sermon

Posted by Job on February 23, 2008

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Redeeming The Time Sermon

Posted by Job on February 23, 2008

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How To Live For God During A Recession

Posted by Job on February 23, 2008

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Top 10 Christian Stories of 2007

Posted by Job on January 2, 2008

From SharperIron.org: by Dan Burrell at 1:00 am January 2, 2008. 57 views. Filed under: Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, Current Issues

Another year has rolled by, and it’s time for my annual list of Top 10 Religious Stories for the last 12 months. In years past, I issued the “Top 10 Fundamentalist Stories” and “The Top 10 Fundamentalist and Evangelical Stories.” Last year, I offered two lists—one for fundamentalists and one for evangelicals. But this past year was a relatively slow one, so it’s back to a combined list. Doing a combined list is awkward at best for a variety of issues. Most fundamentalists don’t like to be connected to evangelicals and vice versa. I’m also one of those folks who isn’t completely comfortable with either “term” when being used to describe me. I’m a self-identified “theological fundamentalist,” but I have rejected much of the baggage that the term has accumulated over time. From a big-picture view, secular observers would associate me with the evangelical wing of Christianity, but I have multiple “issues” with modern Evangelicalism. There is one positive element to a combined list, however. These lists are notorious for causing debate and even a bit of controversy. By combining the two groups into one, I’m sure to incite even more angry retorts, flaming e-mails, and calls for my impeachment. So . . . let’s let the fun begin!

The Top 10 Stories Impacting Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism in 2007

10. Answers in Genesis Opens New Creation Museum

Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis organization opened a $27 million young earth museum designed to explain creation science and to challenge Darwinism. The 60,000-square-foot museum, located in Petersburg, Kentucky, drew more than twice the projected attendance during its first six months of operation.

9. Supreme Court Upholds Legislation Prohibiting Partial-Birth Abortions

In a close 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to state legislation that prohibited partial-birth abortions. The procedure involves delivering a viable baby except for its head, then puncturing the skull and sucking out the brains, collapsing the skull, and delivering the dead remains. This ruling marks a long-awaited victory in the courts, reducing the scope of legalized abortions—an issue that has motivated many “religious right” voters for the last quarter century to elect conservative presidents who would appoint life-friendly justices to the high court.

8. Pastor Bob Gray (Jacksonville, FL) Faces Child Molestation Charges and Passes Away Before His Trial

In a scandal that has shaken many fundamentalists and the Bible Belt city of Jacksonville, Florida, Pastor Bob Gray of the Trinity Baptist Church—one of America’s earliest so-called mega-churches—was charged with multiple counts of child molestation involving little girls and at least one boy who attended the day school sponsored by his church. Mere days before the beginning of his trial, Gray fell at home, sank into a coma, and never recovered. He died without facing earthly justice.

7. Passing On: the Deaths of Falwell, Kennedy, Ruth Graham, Fremont, Roberson, Malone

Multiple strong leaders went home to be with the Lord, further marking the end of an era of iconoclastic leadership among Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals. Most notable was the sudden death of Jerry Falwell (more on this later). In addition, we lost Dr. D. James Kennedy, senior pastor of the venerable Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and founder of Evangelism Explosion; Ruth Bell Graham, wife of America’s evangelist Billy Graham; Dr. Walter Fremont, longtime dean of education at Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC) and Christian school pioneer; Lee Roberson, founder of Tennessee Temple University and Seminary and longtime senior pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church (both in Chattanooga, TN); and Tom Malone, one-time fundamentalist firebrand and founder of Midwestern Baptist College (Pontiac, MI).

6. Frances Beckwith Converts to Catholicism

Frances Beckwith, president of the Evangelical Theological Society, waited until his term expired, then converted (actually reconverted) to become a full member of the Roman Catholic Church. Such a decision seemed to underscore the suspicion of many theological conservatives and fundamentalists that mainstream evangelicals are adrift in a theological mushiness that fails to note or define the significant differences between Catholicism and evangelical and Reformed/Protestant Christianity.

5. “Religious Right” Drifts Politically

Disillusionment with politics in general, disappointment with the Bush administration on multiple levels, a resurgence of evangelical social activism that lends itself to more liberal politics, and the lack of a clearly viable conservative Republican candidate for the presidency has, thus far, watered down the influence of religious conservatives in the 2008 presidential contest. Confusing endorsements by Bob Jones III (Romney) and Pat Robertson (Giuliani) led to criticism of the endorsers, while few seemed to follow their lead. In recent weeks, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has caught on with some values voters, but some leaders (like Phyliss Schlafly of Eagle Forum) have loudly questioned even his conservative credentials. (In addition, others have noted that the former Southern Baptist pastor did not publicly side with inerrantists in the on-going conflict with the SBC.) James Dobson has even suggested the option of running a third-party candidate if the Republicans nominate a pro-abortion candidate like Rudy Giuliani. Whether the religious right will coalesce around a Republican nominee remains to be seen.

4. Hybels Admits That Seeker-Driven Philosophy Is Flawed

After completing a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry, the leaders of Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL) have admitted that what they have taught millions of pastors, church leaders, and converts to “do” is “not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ.” Pastor Bill Hybels confessed, “We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ’self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.” Talk about a big “oops” on that one.

3. Death of Iconoclastic Leadership

The 1900s was a century of “icons” in Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism. Larger-than-life individuals often built followings bordering on personality cults. Sunday, Jones, Rice, Criswell, Lee, Roberson, Norris, Hyles, Graham, Rogers, and scores of others had thousands (if not millions) of supporters composed of mere admirers to ardent sycophants. They could, with a single sermon or a press release, influence elections, draw 10s of thousands, sell millions of dollars worth of product, or make front-page articles in newspapers. Today’s generation tends to be far less loyal to individuals and far more cynically minded toward those who would claim to be spokesmen. The frequent scandals of the last quarter century along with the rise in Internet “conversations” (blogs, discussion boards, forums, and forwarded e-mail newsletters) that question, challenge, and debate endlessly and provide a seeming “equal voice” to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection have diluted, if not muted, the voice of many powerful leaders (and egos). Today’s generation of believers don’t want to be told for whom to vote, what to read, or how to behave. They are more likely to ask “why” and “says who?” than previous generations were. The children of yesterday’s Fundamentalism are better educated, more cynical, more sophisticated, and less likely to follow in their parents’ footsteps than previous progeny. They are far more influenced by the culture and far less influenced by dogmatism. This change will demand better generational dialogue, patience, thoughtful discourse, and thorough explanations if historic positions are to be passed on to future descendants.

2. The Growth of Distance Learning

The distance-learning trend is not limited to the world of religious conservatives, but is definitely impacting how we educate and train our future spiritual leaders. Internet-based learning systems, distance learning programs, and nonresidential forms of higher education are exploding across the spectrum. In evangelical and fundamentalist circles, the pacesetter tends to be Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA), which is approaching an enrollment of 25,000 distance learning students. At one time, correspondence schools were the only form of distance learning available, and many were so substandard that the degrees obtained through that method were the cause of smirks among academicians. Today’s distance learning programs are accredited and innovative, and often contain practical observational and practicum strategies that make them ever more popular. The flexibility of distance-learning programs also appeals to those who want to take longer to complete a degree, to stay in their hometowns, or to keep their current jobs. As this trend spreads beyond graduate schools to include undergraduate programs, the impact on residential-oriented Christian colleges could be significant. Accredited programs, particularly for colleges who are eligible to provide GI-related tuition assistance for their students, are exploding with growth and have the greatest potential for influencing the next generation of graduates.

1. The Death of Jerry Falwell and the TRBC/LU Transition

On May 15, 2007, even network news channels interrupted their regular scheduling to report on the death of Jerry Falwell. From CNN to Fox News, commentators spent hours discussing and debating his influence on American politics, society, and religion. Falwell, no stranger to controversy from within and without evangelical and fundamental circles, was a large-than-life personality who wrapped his unique style of leadership and dogma in a warm, amiable package. His ability to defuse tension with humor; his knack for remembering names, faces, and details; and his seemingly unending visions and big dreams made him hard to dislike personally, though many took umbrage with him positionally. What has been striking since his death has been the smoothness of the transition within the myriad ministries he founded in Lynchburg, Virginia. A transition plan was reportedly laid out several years ago that included a colossal life insurance payout that left Liberty University debt free for the first time in its existence. Jonathan Falwell assumed leadership of the church ministries while Jerry Falwell Jr. took the reins at the university. Jonathan is by far the superior communicator, and according to reports as many as 1,500 new members have joined Thomas Road Baptist Church since he assumed the senior pastor position. The church now ranks in the top 10 largest churches in America. Jerry Jr. is known to be an astute businessman and planner, but he is far less comfortable in the public eye than was his father or is his brother. Yet enrollment at the university continues to climb, with more than 10,000 resident students expected this year in addition to the 20,000-plus students in the distance-learning programs. Neither son is perceived to be as politically oriented as his father. Few mega-ministries have experienced similarly smooth generational transfers. If this transfer continues as it started, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for “Liberty Mountain” in the sleepy southern town of Lynchburg, Virginia.

Honorable Mentions:

Certainly a few “honorable” mentions could be considered, including the following:

  • The investigation of multiple high-profile (mostly charismatic) ministries by Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa for financial irregularities
  • The tragic shooting of four young people at the Denver Youth With a Mission training center and at New Life Church in Colorado Springs
  • The forced resignation of Richard Roberts from the presidency of Oral Roberts University
  • The switch of alliances by well-known former fundamentalist Joe Zichterman, the former professor at Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI) who joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL)
  • Appointment of Dr. Chuck Phelps as president of Maranatha Baptist Bible College (Watertown, WI)
  • Appointment of the Rev. Jim Edge as president of Baptist Bible College (Springfield, MO)
  • Appointment of the Rev. David Melton as president of Boston Baptist College
  • Disaffiliation of most Southern Baptist colleges in North Carolina from the state convention
  • Application for affiliation with the Tennessee Southern Baptist Convention by Tennessee Temple University (Chattanooga, TN)
  • Infamous Huckabee “floating cross” ad
  • Evangelicals and environmental activism
  • The rise of anti-Christian books from atheist authors like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris
  • Persecution of Christians in Turkey, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, China, Burma/Mynamar, and other countries
  • Grave illness of former ABWE president Dr. Wendell Kempton
  • Serious illness and recovery of Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Growing controversy due to Joel Osteen’s theology and lack of clarity during media interviews
  • Dedication of the Billy Graham Library, which brought three former presidents together in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Efforts by Democratic presidential candidates to reach out to “values voters”
  • Continuing rift over gay ordination in Episcopalian denomination as conservatives revolt

That’s my list for 2007. Let the debating begin!
Dan Burrell is on a sabbatical after seventeen years of pastoral ministry of two large churches and is currently serving three colleges and seminaries as an adjunct professor, consulting with Christian day schools and working on several book projects. He’s also a commentator for the Evangelical Press News and blogs at Whirled Views with Dan Burrell.

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Reformed Christianity: Does God Create Unbelief? The Divine Initiative

Posted by Job on November 27, 2007

R.C. Sproul series 2 http://ligonier.org

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Reformed Christianity: The Meaning of Free Will And Man’s Radical Fallenness

Posted by Job on November 27, 2007

R.C. Sproul series 2 http://ligonier.org

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Reformed Christianity: Universal Doctrine And God’s Sovereignty

Posted by Job on November 27, 2007

R.C. Sproul series 2 http://ligonier.org

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Using Tough Language From The Bible IS NOT Speaking In Hate!

Posted by Job on October 25, 2007

I have been accused of such from the very beginning of this weblog, including by other fundamentalist, evangelical, and charismatic Christian ministers! Now while I do recognize that the time, place, culture, and language of contemporary times is far removed from those both when the Bible was both written and translated (the speech, while more polished, was far less sensitive to people’s emotions back then in no large part because THE FIELD OF FREUDIAN PSYCHOLOGY AND EVERYTHING ELSE THAT CAME OUT OF IT INCLUDING THE “SELF ESTEEM MOVEMENT” OR THE NOTION THAT YOU COULD “PSYCHOLOGICALLY SCAR PEOPLE WITH WORDS” DID NOT EXIST YET!), it cannot be ignored that if words describing the behavior of people, groups, cultures, and nations were true back then, they are still true today.

Further, if the confrontational approach employed by the Holy Spirit – inspired prophets of truth was appropriate and necessary back then, it is appropriate and necessary by those of us that are inspired to righteous action to stand against evil by the same Holy Spirit that speaks to US through those words today. Are people’s feelings going to get hurt? Of course. But do you honestly think that the apostles and prophets did not hurt feelings in their day? I would imagine that King David’s feelings were hurt when the prophet Nathan called him an adulterous murderer, and told him that his innocent child conceived in iniquity would die to pay the debt for David’s sins (making David’s baby that died, ironically, a forward prophetic type of Yeshua HaMashiach). So if what Nathan said about David was true and needed to be said back then, what brother IndependentConservative says about Juanita Bynum and Bishop Thomas Weeks III (disgusting and lust filled liars and whores … Weeks is not even a “III” but a Jr., but calls himself III because it sounds more distinguished!) is true and needs to be said today. Especially since unlike David, Bynum and Weeks have never at any time been people after God’s own heart or have aspired to be.

Also, we as Christians have to face facts: a lot of these people feigning indignation and hurt are doing just that – FAKING. They are just prideful people who do not want to be reminded of their sins, and do not want to face public scorn and ridicule for their sins. IndependentConservative has another great case in point: the hard core sex criminal Earl Paulk (whose deeds include incest: he is the father of his own nephew!), who when women began to come forward with allegations against him resorted to the very same “touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm” nonsense that many of you folks have come on here defending thieving adulterers and sex peddlers Paula and Randy White, the aforementioned Weeks and Bynum, oneness heretic and Council on Foreign Relations puppet TD Jakes, universalist Joel Osteen, apostate heretic Kenneth Copeland, and the many prominent preachers that JUST HAPPEN to be freemasons.

The truth hurts, people. But you know what is also true? WITHHOLDING THE TRUTH HURTS MORE. Because if you speak the truth, it will hurt the hearer of the truth, but the very point of that hurt is to bring Holy Spirit conviction on that person so that they will repent. When that happens, the Comforter will come and take the hurt away. But if you withhold the truth from them and they perish in their sins, then not only is their hurt immeasurably worse, but so is yours, for God will require their blood at your hands on judgment day. That is called “the burden of the prophet” which God spoke through Ezekiel at the prophets that were withholding the truth from the people during his day: the people that not only fail in but consciously reject their responsibility to be watchmen on the wall, Ezekiel clearly says that their penalty will be DEATH.

The New Testament echoes the words of Ezekiel by making it clear that Christians that refuse to speak out and therefore allow their brothers and sisters to stumble … it would have been better for a millstone to be tied around their neck and be cast into the sea Jesus Christ said about those people. (To translate that parable, JESUS CHRIST SAID THAT SUCH PEOPLE WILL GO TO THE LAKE OF FIRE FOR ETERNITY!) So while the truth hurts the hearer of the truth temporarily, withholding the truth hurts both the one who needs the truth and the one who knows the truth immeasurably worse FOR ETERNITY!

A lot of folks have come on here reminding me of Christ’s admonition that the true test of a disciple is the love for one another and for sinners that he exhibits through his words and actions. That is true, but if you are going to pass by someone that is spiritually lying on the side of the road polluted in their own blood because of their sins and just step over them as they lay dying rather than telling them to “live ye live” (Ezekiel 16:6) by letting them know that their behavior is sin, that their sin is known to God and will be judged by God, and they need to repent and accept and obey Jesus Christ through the Bible, then you do not love that person, you do not love Jesus Christ or the Father and are resisting the Holy Ghost, and that is evidence that you are not a disciple.

What we need to do, Christians, is reject the sensual lascivious nonsense of what the sinful world calls love. The world’s concept of love is completely absent of holiness, righteousness self – control, responsibility, or love for others. What the world calls love is “doing whatever makes you feel good.” Eve gave into that corrupted concept of love when she heeded the lies of Satan in the garden of Eden, and Adam did also in following his wife. Now that very same sensual mess is in the church, including the non – emergent fundamentalist and evangelical portions, because these pastors have given in to the filthy abominations of a modern psychology field that was developed by freaks, creeps, and perverts like Sigmund Freud (who used his theories to justify his incestual lust for his mother), Alfred Kinsey (who used his theories to justify his desire to molest young boys), and Carl Jung (who literally worshiped the devil)!

I am not kidding or exaggerating, go do the research yourself! These are the guys that invented the modern field of psychology that tells us that we have to be “sensitive”, “tolerant”, and “accepting” of other people’s sins because their whole purpose and motivation was justifying their own! And now we have allowed that rebellious abomination to come into the church by way of so many Christian pastors that have defiled the holy message of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with the evil lusts of men crawling with demons of incest, homosexuality, child molestation, and devil worship. So is it any wonder that NONE of the leading preachers and theologians today will directly confront sin or sinners? Oh, they will bash Hollywood stars, Ted Kennedy, and Barney Frank because of that religious right abomination. But they won’t deal with sin or sinners on a personal level, and that includes the sins of other prominent preachers.

The only reason that we ever found out about Ted Haggard, leader of the National Association of Evangelicals for instance, is because he was exposed by a homosexual prostitute! Not a member of the Body of Christ using Holy Spirit discernment. Not a member of his church who noticed the longtime pattern of bizarre behavior by Haggard and demanded that he confess. No, this fellow would still be leading that church and using his position in the National Association of Evangelicals to convince fundamentalist and evangelical Christians that fighting global warming is more important than keeping the government from officially endorsing the sin of homosexuality were it not for this gay prostitute. And there has been NO ACCOUNTABILITY for the leaders of that church or of the religious right over this issue. NONE.

Why? I am going to tell you why. Because the modern church movement has gotten to be so apostate, so revolting, that it tolerates sin. It accommodates sin. It even LIKES SIN. The modern church movement has more love for people that hate, reject, mock, and re – crucify Jesus Christ with their hateful rebellion against Him than they do for Christians that stand for and demand righteousness in themselves and others that profess Jesus Christ. Evidence of this is the comments of this fellow who runs a weblog dedicated to “dialogue between Christians and Mormons”, claiming that “if we are too harsh in condemning Mormonism, Mormons will leave Christianity altogether, so we need to use gentle persuasion to trick them into leaving their apostate movement so that we can get them to join a Christian church so that they might be converted over time by hearing the preacher.”

Right … getting a Mormon to follow Brian McLaren, Kenneth Copeland, or Creflo Dollar using a compromised gospel … that’ll win ’em for Christ! Please. It will make them twice the sons of hell that they were before! Now when I objected to the notion that Mormons ever were Christians to begin with, the fellow at LDSTalk told me “I probably have a 90% theological alignment with you, but after your first comment here I don’t even want to hang out with you. You’re a clanging cymbal.” (Calling me a clanging cymbal was “nicer” than telling me that I sounded like fingernails being scratched across a chalkboard I suppose).

But that is the mentality of the church today … finding someone that you can sit around and call everyone else Pharisees with and have a great time. The fact that AT THIS VERY SECOND PEOPLE ARE DYING AND GOING TO THE LAKE OF FIRE FOR ETERNITY? Man, don’t bring me down with none of your negative vibe, I was all high off smoking my Holy Spirit marijuana (to borrow from gospel singer Tonex, who has now veered heavily into gnosticism, mysticism, and vulgarity) before you came along and ruined my buzz. Now this fellow is asserting I’m convinced that Jesus is unconcerned with our behavior. And … John 14:15 means what then?

Now the brother at Gay Christian Movement Watch is a better writer than I am, so I suggest that you go see his words on the topic that inspired my own post.

Is it “hateful” use the Bible’s tough language?

Posted in Bible, Christianity, prophecy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments »