Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘humanism’

Theodicy Dialogue With Pastor Matt Wrickman

Posted by Job on January 26, 2012

Matthew Wrickman, a pastor and blogger with whom I have corresponded in the past, wished to discuss How The Penn State University Child Molestation Case Demonstrates The Existence Of God and did so in a comment, which he reproduced as a post on his site (which I encourage you to patronize). The objections – er dialogue points – that he raised are good ones as always, and my interaction with them is as follows. Pastor Wrickman’s words are in blocked quote format, and mine follow. Thank you.

“ Interesting response. Most commentators for the last 200 years at least have used evil in the reverse sense as the greatest problem for the existence of God. The line of logic would be that Sandusky is evil. If God was really good, really powerful, and really existed then He would have intervened and stopped the action. He didn’t so either He is not really good, really powerful, or does not really exist. As a line of logic it seems rather convincing. I, of course, would argue (as you hinted at) that God has intervened through the person of Son. That the cross of Christ represents Christ’s solidarity with the victims of Sandusky, as well as, his offer of healing to both victim and victimizer. Mix that with classical free will theory and I feel that the question has been answered; perhaps not superbly but answered nonetheless.”

Alas, you are of the Remonstrants, I am of the Synod of Dort! (Actually I am Particular Baptist after the manner of Charles Spurgeon, William Carey and Paul Bunyan and you are not classical Arminian or Wesleyan as you to not believe that one can lose his salvation, but otherwise you get the picture.)

“You once stated that you enjoyed boiling down arguments to the logical extreme”

Well, my love of reductio ad absurdum was in my angry, immature phase. (In what many might consider to be an irony, it was becoming a “5 point Calvinist” – or again more accurately a Particular Baptist – that helped me get past my anger, which I ultimately discovered was truthfully coming from within and was directed inwardly also.) I now rarely employ this debate tactic, though I hear that it is a very good tool for computer scientists and mathematicians.

“and that is where pointing from evil to God fails. At it’s extreme it allows for no differentiation between evil and God.””

I agree with you to a point, as a multitude of false religions (as I understand them) have deities that are dualistic, amoral or even malevolent. But that extreme is precluded by the holy scriptures. Though I do dabble in classical and evidential apologetics from time to time – to the extent that I am able – for the most part I adhere to the presuppositional apologetics school of Cornelius Van Til and similar, which takes the truth and authority of the Bible to be a non-negotiable starting point and proceeds from there. (I further build on that school by presuming a basic “rule of faith”, or a normative interpretation of the Bible, belief in its inerrancy/inspiration/authority, and application of its doctrines to the church).

So, inasmuch as the Bible differentiates between evil and God, I presume this to be true also. My purpose for authoring the above piece was intended not to much to be an exercise in philosophy, ethics or similar, but for evangelism and encouragement. Thus, it presumes some degree of faith – and please recall that faith is not produced by man but is given by God – and is not intended for the purposes of debating the likes of Sam Harris, Charles Dawkins or the late Christopher Hitchens.

“One might state that if evil has a positive outcome such as pointing to God; then committing evil cannot be entirely wrong (as it creates some good outcome). Therefore committing an evil act cannot be considered wrong and cannot then be evil.”

What you speak of is outcome-based religion. The problem with such religions is that man, lacking perfect knowledge and morality, is incapable of properly evaluating outcomes. Only God can do so. What we perceive to be a “good” outcome according to our perspective might actually be evil according to God, and the converse is also true. Consider an example: a small leak in a dam. A person might make an improper repair to the leak that for a time stops the water from running, but makes the dam weaker, or at minimum ignores the root cause of the leak. Now though the fix is flawed, it might last a long time – during the duration of that person’s life. And for that time, that person will be considered to have done a great good in fixing the leak, and will go to his grave with such estimation.

But suppose that the dam ultimately breaks and catastrophically floods the town! Was this a good deed? No, because in the most extreme case, where the leak would have been at most a minor annoyance but remained, the fix made the dam weaker and caused it to suddenly burst where it would not have had the fix not been applied. In even the most favorable possible case, the fix caused everyone to BELIEVE that the problem was solved, and hindered them from seeking a real solution, or from evacuating the town if no solution was possible or practical.

Such is the result of false religion: it creates self-righteousness and blinds the sinner from his need for God. And false doctrines in Christianity can similar impede the spiritual growth of a Christian. So, the measure of “good acts” are not by their outcomes (“the ends justify the means”) or their intentions (“he meant well/his heart was in the right place”) but rather the fidelity of these acts to the commandments of Jesus Christ as revealed by the Holy Scriptures regardless of their apparent outcomes. God and His Word are the standard, not the outcome or our perception of it, and by the definition of God as determined by His special revelation to us in the Bible, fidelity to God and His Word cannot be evil.

That is why the people who obeyed the commandments of God to commit genocide and fratricide in the Old Testament were not evil, and those who committed what might have been considered good in sparing, say, a Canaanite baby out of what seemed to be mercy upon the innocent who posed no threat when when God commanded to utterly destroy all the Canaanites would have been evil. Where of course we would say that killing a Canaanite baby is evil, and sparing the baby and raising it up according to the Jewish religion would have been good according to our own understanding, we have to accept by faith God’s statements when He says that His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, and obey God according to that same faith.

If we do otherwise, and obey God when it conforms to our own sense of good and evil and abandon God’s commandments when they contradict them, we are following our own religion and morality and not God’s, and we have made ourselves into gods in the place of God.

“On another level it also implicates God in evil; because it seems to make God a participant in the evil action. Therefore one might question the goodness of God.”

Well, the psalmists and prophets seemed to regularly question the goodness of God, no? Yet they remained faithful. It is not blind faith, but faith in God’s self-revelation to us through His Son. The role of the Holy Spirit is not to answer all of our questions, but to reassure us, comfort us and keep us in the faith despite them. Or to save us from our faithless condition despite them. The Bible declares oft that we cannot understand God and His ways, and that we are not to even try to. We are to merely – as the old hymn says – trust and obey Him.

But let it be said that God does certainly use evil to accomplish His ends. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose, and this includes evil things. And God most certainly does use evil events. When a sinner commits evil, the Holy Spirit convicts him of this evil in order to drive him to repentance unto salvation. When a Christian commits evil, the Holy Spirit convicts him of this evil in order to drive him to repentance unto restoration. The Holy Spirit does not cause this evil, but He certainly uses it.

But as touching God and evil actions: consider when God sent a lying spirit to the false prophets in order to provoke wicked king Ahab into going into battle so that Ahab could be slain as a punishment for his (Ahab’s) wickedness. Consider also when God made pharaoh ruler of Egypt and hardened his heart so that pharaoh would oppress the children of Israel mightily, as God wanted an occasion to judge the Egyptians for their wickedness, to save Israel and make them a nation, and to display evidence of His existence and power to the world. Consider when God used the wicked pagan Assyrian and Babylonian empires to judge Israel and Judah for their infidelity to the Sinai covenant (and this required allowing Assyria and Babylon to conquer other nations and otherwise rise to power). And consider when Jesus Christ chose the non-elect Judas Iscariot as one of His apostles so that Judas Iscariot could betray Him and otherwise fulfill the prophecies.

It is very fair to say that God participated in these evil actions, if you rely on the common human definition of participation. In the Bible, God does asserts His right to do evil, at least according to man’s perspective of evil (when God did so, He was condescending to the limited understanding capacity of man in that He allowed them to regard His actions as evil).

Just because we see something as evil does not make it evil. God is the standard, the Self-existing Self-defined one who is goodness and righteousness within Himself. Evil, then, is by definition that which is contrary to God, and God by definition cannot be contrary to Himself. Any other definition of evil makes man a judge of not only himself, but of God. This is something than an unbeliever – especially an atheist or rationalist – will never accept but that Christians are called to accept, believe and submit ourselves to through faith.

The unwillingness to accept the fact that God Himself is the definition of good and that evil is defined by its being in opposition to God is the source of so many of these logical games, tricks and constructions on the behalf of many apologists. This fact also solves the apparent problem of God telling one person to do one thing at one time and another person to do something else (i.e. when God commanded Ezekiel and Hosea to break the Mosaic law by eating bread defiled with excrement and marrying a cult prostitute): we are simply to believe that God can do so without Himself being contradictory.

“I prefer the Biblical account which simply claims that God is the good God who overcomes evil. He is the one that thwarts evil, and instead works good in the life of the believer where the evil one had sought to sow destruction. Evil, then, remains evil; and God remains good. It is not the evil action that points to God; but rather His action in turning away the evil and establishing his redemption in its wake. The redemption points to God.”

The problem with that is that it relies on an incomplete portion of the Holy Scriptures, excluding bad facts. Consider, well, the book of Job (which has been as much a source of fascination and meditation for me as I certainly hope the Gospel of Matthew has been for you)! Let’s face it: God delivered Job into the hands of Satan for Satan to do whatever he wished with Job and all that he had save taking Job’s life. And please recall: the Bible is clear that the calamities that came upon Job were not due to any sin that Job had committed. Job’s CHILDREN died, not because of any sin of Job or the children, and despite Job’s daily sacrificing for his children in case they sinned. (Of course, their deaths would have occurred due to their original sin, as did Job’s death, but let us focus on their untimely deaths, which was considered to be an evil occurrence in OT times and still is to this day.)

We have to come up with a theodicy that is faithful to the entirety of the Bible. Not only must we do this in order to be faithful to God through His Word, but this is also the only way to construct a theodicy that encompasses the range of the facts of life that we have to confront, such things as wars, plagues, horrific crimes, miscarriages, birth defects etc. God does overcome evil by eliminating all that which is contrary to Himself. Keep in mind: this process will not be completely finished until the eschaton, when this creation is destroyed by fire, the wicked are cast into eternal flame, and a new heaven and a new earth is created.

As to why God did not make the original creation after the same manner of the new heaven and new earth, we just have to accept that God did all things according to a manner that pleased Him. The idea that God was obligated to prevent the existence of evil in order to not Himself be evil is man’s thinking, not our own. And it is thinking that is centered on man and his own interests, as we accuse God for not acting to avoid our own misery and suffering. We want to be able to say that God is not good if the result of His original creation was humans – most of whom never encountered with the gospel of Jesus Christ to either accept or reject – being punished in the lake of fire for an eternity. As mentioned earlier, our duty is to accept these facts because they are how God revealed Himself and His actions in the Bible, and not to generate contrivances to avoid the fulness of God’s self-revelation and its implications. Make no mistake: unbelievers are fully aware of these things! Have you ever perused skepticsannotatedbible.org and similar counter-apologetics efforts? It is far better to directly confront these things in scripture, meditate on them, accept them through faith, and work them into our systematic theologies than to simply pretend that they do not exist, or to come up with human-centered (if not necessarily humanistic) evasions.

One last point if evil has some positive function in our world then the ultimate destruction of it would in essence be destroying it, and with it destroying an important way of knowing God. Yet our God promises to end evil once and for all. That is our hope that on a day in the hopefully not-too-distant future He will return to bring into completion or fullness the reality of His Kingdom that he established in His previous visit. The cross is the seal of payment, and the spirit is his down payment asserting His intentions to return. Evil will be no more and His people will be entirely free to serve Him in eternity. We will then celebrate His victory, not His battle.

There is a difference between saying that evil has an absolute positive function in the world, and merely stating that God uses evil to accomplish His purposes. However, even if God did so as you speak, it would be well within His right to terminate it. Does God still feed His people with manna? Of course, God did a great thing by feeding His people with manna. Does the fact that you no longer eat manna destroy an important way of knowing God? Does the fact that you are not a Jew living in Jerusalem under the Mosaic law destroy an important way of knowing God? God forbid! So, if God can discontinue good things, then how much more so can He discontinue evil that He uses for good purposes? We know God only by God’s revelation.

Whether God’s revelation consists of His use of evil to accomplish His goals or not, the knowledge of God is the same. Why? Because God – the one providing the revelation – is the same. Even if you were to say that it is not “the same”, inasmuch as those in Old Testament times did not have the same knowledge as do we in light of the cross and the current ministrations of the Holy Spirit, their knowledge of God based on the revelation that they had was nonetheless sufficient to suit God’s purposes and that is what counts. God is only bound by Himself to reveal to us what He chooses for us to know of Him. He is not bound by us to reveal to us what we desire to know of him.

Further, God reveals Himself to us through the way that He chooses, not the way that we desire. Part of the error of some in the Pentecostal movement that I was once in is their demand that God reveal Himself to us in these ways in the same way that He revealed Himself to the early church, and also to Old Testament Israel. God’s actions and revelations are according to His will, not our desires. And the nature and character of God’s revelation are suitable to fulfill our needs. Not our wants, but our needs. Keep in mind in Romans 1 when Paul states that even the order and nature of creation should have been enough of God’s self-disclosure to live righteously and thereby be saved, and therefore those who do not – including those who never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ – are without excuse and therefore subject to condemnation on judgment day.

And of course we celebrate His battle. Are not the Psalms filled with the Jews’ praise of God’s battles on their behalf, physical and spiritual? Concerning Jesus Christ, do we not celebrate His trial in the desert, Gethsemane and the cross, and not merely the resurrection? Jesus Christ specifically instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper so that we would remember His passion. This knowledge of God that you speak of includes God’s battles for our behalf, because through these we know that God has both the power to save us and the love to forgive us. God’s destruction of Egypt and Israel’s other enemies is evidence of the former, and His restoration of the remnant after they broke His covenant is evidence of the latter. This is evidence of the very hope of which you speak!

Well, I am done! I thank this opportunity to dialogue with my old friend and brother in the faith. As always, I hope that I did not offend or mistreat you, and if I did, it was not my intent. Thank you, and I look forward to your response.

The Three Step Salvation Plan

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Solomon, Egypt, Democracy, Folly And Liberation Theology

Posted by Job on February 25, 2011

At the time of this writing, for the past several weeks have seen “democracy protests” in the Middle East and in Arab and Muslim nations. They apparently began in Tunisia, have resulted in the demise of at least two governments (Tunisia and Egypt), seem to have Libya at the point of crisis, and show signs of spreading to other nations like Iran, Iraq and Jordan, and have seemed to inspire political demonstrations and rallies in many various places of the world. I haven’t had the spare time required to follow these events with any intensity and detail – whether over the Internet or on TV – as I most certainly would have in years past. Also, I haven’t attempted any detailed speculation to these events “from a Biblical perspective”, especially as it relates to prophecy and eschatology (such as the endtimes, Israel and the coming one world government and religion). So, other than a  personal suspicion totally lacking in factual basis than the American intelligence community (CIA et. al.) has had a hand in coordinating and driving this, with regards to specifics I don’t have much to say.

However, in terms of the general issues that these protests raise, I can and will contribute a little bit, primarily about how so many people, including not a few Christians, are absolutely, totally convinced that these protests are a good idea, that the general wishes of the protesters should be respected, and that it has the potential to lead to good, positive changes in the Middle East. This honestly does seem to be the consensus opinion. Further, the primary basis for dissent from the main opinion – that these protests are good and positive – is that these developments are negative only because it may lead to violent anti-western groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian government to step into the leadership vacuum and assert themselves. Based on this, we can presume that even the dissenters would be supportive of this massive movement to overthrow civil governments if the new governments that resulted were more to their personal liking.

So, most people believe that these protests are a positive development, and most of the rest would also if they could be assured a “pro-western” ultimate outcome. And to me, that is absolutely incredible, and not in a good way. It is appalling, shocking, disturbing, frightening, and any number of “bad ings”. That most people apparently do not share this view – or if they share it, they do so for reasons of self interest – shows just how deep the 1960s protest ideology has embedded itself in our modern culture, so deep that it is no longer oft directly challenged even by Christians. And that is evidence of how our modern culture has so thoroughly embraced a humanistic mindset marked by a complete and total rejection of God and a Biblical worldview.

Let it be known that the Bible does not not endorse rebellion or anarchy. Quite the contrary, the Bible refers to those as evil and sinful, and judges the men and ideologies who promote them the same. And if rebellion, anarchy, lawlessness and violence isn’t what happened on the streets of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and what have you, what is? Also, we are told what a “great thing” it is that this protest movement is being led by young people in their 20s and 30s, just as was our own 1960s counterculture. Are we not aware that the Bible says that the young should be instructed, trained and led by elders who are prudent and wise, and that societies where the prideful, vain and presumptuous youths cast off and usurp the place of the older, more tested leaders are those that are going to soon collapse? Didn’t we learn ANYTHING from the turmoil in the Old Testament, such as in the time of the Judges, or in Israel (the Northern Kingdom) when they rebelled against the Davidic monarchy in Judah?

And no, the fact that these people are rebelling against authoritarian regimes in favor of democracy does not make things any better. It must be clearly stated: the Bible at no point advocates democracy. Quite the contrary, when the Bible appears to deal with the general concept, it lends a negative judgment to it, as if it is the product of proud people who reject God’s governance in favor of self-rule. I am reading through the late Merrill Tenney’s “Interpreting Revelation” right now, and the author did note the tendency to desire to rule oneself apart from God’s guidance or law was evident in both Cain’s building a city and in the building of Babylon and the Tower of Babel.

Make no mistake: when the Bible calls civil government “the servant of God” in Romans 13 and instructs us to be render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to be subject to and pray for our leaders elsewhere in the New Testament, there was no “so long as the governments in question are democracies” caveat. Quite the contrary, the governments in view – and the only governments that the ancient world that produced the Bible were aware of – were regimes that by our modern western standards would be considered brutal, authoritarian, repressive etc. and begging to be overthrown and replaced with a modern, progressive one with a representative parliament, a constitution guaranteeing individual rights and separation of powers, and of course consenting to the ultimate overlordship of the United Nations.

And consider another angle: the Bible clearly speaks of and declares the absolute monarchy of Jesus Christ over the church (and ultimately creation) with pastors as His representatives and the Bible as His ruling document. What better method of subverting this model than promoting a mindset where individual human free will agency is the highest, most cherished prize, and that anything that would tend to limit this – such as a monarchy – is evil and oppressive? Far better to cast off ideas of “organized religion” in favor of self-styled “spirituality” where each person is his own ultimate authority (imagine no pastors, and no authoritative canon of scripture or interpretation thereof!). Or alternatively, ecclesiastical bodies with elected representatives can sit as judges. Women pastors? Won by majority vote! Homosexual church officers! The majority carries the day! Many paths to heaven? The majority sided with the newer, more inclusive hermeneutics. The inerrancy and authority of scripture? Sorry, that idea didn’t get to 50% among the delegates to the convention!

But let us go back to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and these other places where these brave young democrats are willing to die – and kill – for these new societies, where Twitter and Facebook are apparently changing the world (with the help of . First off, apply this to our own countries in the west … America, France, Canada, Germany, Great Britain etc. Imagine if all of a sudden our own young people took to the streets for a week, a month, a year, or five years and demanded that OUR governments be replaced. Imagine if it were our own high school and college students (helped by the government of Iran or Russia) creating some Facebook page about how we need to get rid of our oppressive, restrictive uncool governments in favor of something proposed by George Clooney and Lady Gaga. And imagine if the other governments of the world – and the United Nations – sided with these kids and told us that we should hand over our own perfectly legitimate and functional governments … or else. Sound like a good idea to you? Of course not. So what on earth makes it a good idea for Egypt or anyplace else? Either the people who are backing this actually WANT the mass confusion (which just may be the case) or we in these last days actually have gotten this far removed from concepts of right and wrong, order and disorder, propriety and impropriety, decency and vulgarity that we now believe that pressuring sovereign nations to hand over control of their governments to a bunch of violent seditious kids somehow represents progress.

And it wouldn’t shock me the least if there wasn’t at least one preacher or pastor out there who would call it just that. And I am not just talking about the liberation theology pastors who believe that overthrowing authoritarian regimes and powerful corporations in order to provide economic, political and social benefits to oppressed populations is the aim of the Bible. Instead, not a few conservative evangelical or fundamentalist Christian pastors would fully support what is happening in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Iran, Iraq etc. so long as the result is a pro-western democracy rather than a sharia law state that sponsors terrorism. That is because so many western Christians have wedded and melded representative democracy, capitalism, individual human rights, and other western ideas into their view of the Bible. Romans 13 and similar? Situational. Open to interpretation. Not the highest or final authority in every society in all times!

In order to try, challenge and prove this “democracy revolution”, we need to go to the streets – or the Twitter pages – and ask these bold revolutionaries what they want. Many will say “We want freedom.” I say “fine, but what is freedom? How will you exercise this freedom? What is it that you want the freedom to do? And the things that you have not been free to do before today, what effect does their absence really have on your life?” How many of these 28 year old men and women that have been willing to face down folks toting guns (or should I say, the legitimate representatives of their legitimate governments!) would be willing to give a satisfactory answer to these questions? I will tell you the answer to: none of them. Why? Because none exists. The reason is that outside of Jesus Christ, no freedom exists. Instead, all there exists is a soul’s bondage to sin, and the soul that sinneth shall die.

OK, so forget about freedom. What else do these MTV generation revolutionaries (assuming that anyone even watches MTV anymore, so I guess I should say “YouTube generation”, and that’s assuming that’s still popular either) care about? They’ll tell you that they want money. Class mobility. The ability to earn money, to earn even more money, to keep and invest it. OK, fine. How much money do you need? $1,000? If I give you $1,000, will you get out of the streets and stop doing your part to allow the United Nations to take over your country? Oh, you want more than that. You want $5,000 and a car. Or maybe $15,000 and a house. Maybe you want $50,000 and a college education. Or $1 million, a yacht, a summer home in Dubai, and VIP status in Las Vegas. Will that make you happy? Truthfully, of course not. Money doesn’t make people happy. You can find more miserable people in an expensive American gated community with million dollar homes than you can in some third world village where everyone is living in tiny mud huts. The reason is that true riches, true wealth, is only through identification with Jesus Christ. Everything else is something that rust can corrupt and thieves can steal. Or something that won’t make a bit of difference to you if you are lying on your deathbed with a few hours to live. I guess in such an instance, a few dollars for drugs to ease the pain in your last moments on earth would have some merit, but we all know that the folks on the streets working to overthrow their governments don’t have that on their minds. Instead, they are convinced that they are going to live forever – or at least a very long time – and want more money to do it with, thinking that it will make them happier with their lot if they do. The prosperity doctrine according to Middle Eastern street revolutionaries. Well, the true gospel of Jesus Christ says that godliness and contentment are great gain.

Or what about the principle of the matter? What about simply wanting a better, more honest, more open system of government? What about justice, fairness and truth? To the revolutionary allow me to ask you the same question that Pilate asked Jesus Christ: “What is truth?” What piece of knowledge or system of knowledge is there that will satisfy you? Will make you truly happy? Will answer all your questions? Will meet all your needs? The answer is simple: outside of Jesus Christ, there is none. All else is an inadequate partial truth at best, or a delusion and a lie.

It is inescapable, then, that this battle for democracy in the Middle East is the same as is all worldly battles: vanity. We know this from Solomon. Freedom? Solomon had it, for he was king. Truth? Solomon had it, for he was the wisest man that ever lived. Wealth? Solomon had it, for he was the richest man in the world. All of those things and more Solomon had, and they didn’t make him happy. Instead, Solomon found them to be vanity. Why? Because God’s Holy Spirit had departed from him because of his idolatry and apostasy. Despite having everything in his hands what these people in the Middle East are killing and dying for and more, Solomon was unhappy. As a result, everything that he had and possessed, everything that he even wanted and aspired to, was worthless. They were worthless precisely because of their very temporal and therefore attainable (at least for some) nature. By contrast, the things of Jesus Christ are the things that truly matter, and they last forever.

So, liberation theology and other religious movements that are primarily concerned with ideas and other things of this world, are vanity. The same can be said with any number of economic, social and political movements: vain, light limited and flawed things that will not last the test of time. Or, as it were, things that will no longer be when time is no more. And that is why despite living in an evil, authoritarian repressive pagan Roman Empire that was wicked to the core, Jesus Christ, Paul and Peter were still able to tell us to be subject to our government and leaders, and even to pray for them. The reason is that these governments only have rule over us for a time. We should be able to endure their inefficiencies, their imperfections, and even their outright wickedness because these things are only for a time. When that time – our time on earth – is at its end, they have no more rule or power over us. Instead, that is when we pass from the temporary, limited flawed rule of man to the permanent, unlimited and perfect rule of Jesus Christ. How is it that we can be counted worthy to enjoy the benefits of the latter if we so reject and despise the cost of the former, even if that cost is persecution unto death?

And this is not merely New Testament doctrine. Remember David as he was being persecuted by the wicked government of his day as embodied by King Saul and his soldiers as they hunted and sought to kill him, and later by Absalom and those loyal to him when they rebelled against David and tried to do the same. It was in the power of David to personally overthrow the wicked human government of Saul and institute a new government to his own liking by killing Saul and becoming king instead. But David refused to do such a thing, because David knew that by doing so, he was not actually rebelling against a wicked government, but against God. David knew that his own miserable circumstances did not justify taking matters into his own hands to correct them.

Instead, David was willing to let God deal with the problem in God’s time and in God’s manner. As David was a man after God’s own heart, should we not do the same in response to our own turmoils and crises? That is not a popular idea in an American society that glorifies our own Revolutionary War with its tea party and “no taxation without representation” and Declaration of Independence and George Washington, but that is just more evidence that human ideas, Cain and Babylon inventions, are always going to be more popular than what the Bible says. That is why our duty as Christians isn’t to do what is popular with the people as King Saul wanted to do, but instead to do what God commands us as King David did! We are to do what God commands as opposed to what feels good and seems right in our own eyes! What a radical concept!

And allow me to point out with regards to democracy, that Absalom nearly succeeded in deposing and murdering King David because he gained popularity with the people. And that Jeroboam was able to keep the Northern Kingdom of Israel from rejoining the house of David in Judah by appealing to the people. And that during the time of Israel’s apostasy there were a multitude of false prophets who were very popular with the people. And the children of Israel in the desert provoked God to wrath by receiving the wicked report of the ten spies that was popular with the people.

So after all, what is democracy but power to the people who want to seek their own way instead of God’s? Just as it was in the days of the Old Testament, it is so in the Middle East, that very same region of the world today. And just as King Rehoboam rejected the wise counsel of the elders in favor of the foolish counsel of the young when confronted with the first crisis in his kingdom, and had ten of the twelve tribes rebel against him as a result, the rulers of the world are siding with the foolish young leaders in the Middle East today. And how many Christian churches today are following the young because they are desperate to be hip and relevant? As it was then, it is today, and as they are, far too many of us are because we are worldly and carnal.

I cannot speak to the long term results of this Middle East turmoil. Its direct implications on issues like the church, Israel, the world governments and economy I do not know, and those are things that God knows and controls. For now, it is enough to say that the very fact that these demonstrations are being embraced, supported and promoted by so many people all over the world is a very troubling thing. It is evidence of how many rulers, leaders and people of this current world order have completely given themselves over to a strange, evil and wicked mindset that rejects order, decency and propriety in favor of presumptuous decadent confusion. I do not know what age or time this Middle East crisis is leading us into, but it is sufficient to say that the reaction to and support of the rebellious demonstrators in the streets over and against the legitimate rulers and governments of these nations is a judgment of the wickedness, depravity, hypocrisy and moral vacancy of our own times. And all such evil and wickedness is not just against man but also against God, and this is the same God that one day will judge all wickedness.

All one needs to do is read Revelation and realize that this judgment and punishment is a serious matter indeed. What a person must do is come out of this wickedness so that they will not be part of this judgment. When that time of judgment comes, do not be counted among the riotous, the seditious, the rebellious, and of the people who have vicarious pleasure in those who do such things. Instead, be counted among those who love the order and peace, which are those who love and trust Jesus Christ, who when He comes into His kingdom will not suffer any such rebellions but instead will rule the nations with the rod of iron. When Jesus Christ returns for His friends, even the last enemy of God’s system of order and stability, death, will be defeated and cast into the lake of fire. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

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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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The Substitutionary Atonement Disproves Annihilationism

Posted by Job on August 22, 2009

Concerning the final fate of those who die unreconciled to Jesus Christ and as a result whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life and suffer judgment, punishment, the lake of fire, the second death, the historic position based on the plain readings of scripture has been burning eternally in the lake of fire. However, this doctrine has been under attack at least since the time of Origen, who proposed that punishment in the lake of fire would be temporary and rehabilitative, and after the period of rehabilitation everyone – humans and demons – will be forgiven. A more recent doctrinal trend rejects Origen’s universalism (and his rehabilitative punishment idea, in which the roots of the Roman Catholic purgatory doctrine can be found) in favor of annhiliationaism, the idea that rather than burning for an eternity, human souls will simply be consumed.

Now of course, this ignores that the Bible explicitly states that both wicked and saints will be resurrected from the dead, and at that time both wicked and saints will receive bodies that are eternal and indestructible, and that their torment would last forever. However, the annihilationist view rejects those in favor of various scriptures cited out of context to support the idea that the wicked will simply be instantly consumed, and that the references to eternal punishment mean that the wicked will cease to exist forever.

First, we have to consider the motivations for adopting this doctrine. Its adherents plainly state that it is because an eternity in the lake of fire is too cruel a punishment and therefore unjustifiable. Of course, this is a direct attack against and outright denial of God’s sovereignty, not far removed from the universalist position that a loving God would not condemn anyone. Further, this doctrine appears to be gaining traction when those consider the plight of people who were never exposed to the gospel. Free will-Wesleyan-Arminian-“Biblicist” annihilationists take the position that God cannot impose so severe a punishment on those who by their time and place of birth never had the opportunity to be saved through the exercise of their free will decision for Jesus Christ. (The extreme position of this view is taken by Clark Pinnock, who states that it is unfair for God to so severely punish even those who use their free moral agency to REJECT Jesus Christ, because that would place God at fault for giving us free will and the opportunity to reject Him in the first place.)

Reformed-Calvinist annihilationists have problems with the opposite end of the soteriology question: they cannot reconcile eternal punishment with a God who elects and predestines people to avoid it. Again, God’s sovereignty is in view here. Stating that God does not have the right to deal with His creation in any way that He chooses so long as His dealings are consistent with His nature is tantamount to suggesting that God had no right to undertake and accomplish creation in the first place. Amazingly, both the free will and predestinarian annihilationists have no problem with God punishing demons, evil spirits, forever. If it the issue truly is how a loving God is obligated to behave towards His creation, fallen angels should be the first issue of concern, as no redemption plan exists for them. Instead, it is only God’s prerogative with humans that drives doctrines that attack His sovereignty, which shows that humanism – a manifestation of the pride of life – is what is truly behind them, not the honest pursuit of theology, doctrines or theodicy. So, these folks start with the perspective of humanistic philosophy, wrap it in scriptures, and come up with a pious and spiritual sounding but ultimately false theology

However, it is rather simple to oppose this humanistic philosophy masquerading as theology with, well, theistic philosophy. Where humanistic philosophy that leads to the position adopted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and the Church of England (annihilationism), starting with the Person of Jesus Christ leads to a philosophically different viewpoint. Go right to the cross, and consider the doctrine of substitutionary atonement (which incidentally Roman Catholics reject). Substitutionary atonement is the Biblical truth that Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place, Himself taking the punishment of death for sin that God’s righteousness demands (Ezekiel 18) in our stead.

This is the rub: Jesus Christ was and is no mere man. Instead, He is the Word of God, the eternal second Person of the Holy Trinity! Meanwhile, humans are not eternal. We will exist forever FORWARD into eternity either in heaven or the lake of fire. But as creatures (created beings) we have no part in eternity PAST. Instead, we have a definite, finite point of origin. So, when Jesus Christ took the sins of the elect, the church on the cross and died, it was the ETERNAL Son of God dying. Metaphysically, cosmically, the punishment was ETERNAL, and Jesus Christ took an ETERNAL punishment in our place because God is ETERNAL.

And this is fitting the nature of sin. Sin is a crime against a holy ETERNAL God that has ETERNAL consequences. Paying those eternal consequences for a crime that offends an eternal God requires an eternal punishment, an eternal payment. Being eternal, Jesus Christ satisfied the consequences of this eternal punishment with His own death. So, the eternal punishment of sins, to be meted out to those who will exist forever, is paid. But for those who do not participate in the atoning redemption given by the eternal Son of God’s work still have to pay themselves.

Suggesting otherwise ignores the eternal consequences of sin and its affront to the holiness of God. So, in addition to being an attack against God’s sovereignty, annihilationism denies His holiness.

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Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s Anti – Christ Universalism

Posted by Job on September 4, 2008

From True Discernment weblog.

from Berit kjos:

Believes Many Paths Lead to God

The Faith of Barack Obama written by New York Times best-selling author Stephen Mansfield was released in August by Thomas Nelson publishers. The book carries the endorsement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the front cover. Tutu, one of the global “Elders,” calls the book “perceptive and well-written.” The publisher’s description of the book reads: 

“…takes readers inside the mind, heart, and soul of presidential hopeful Barack Obama–as a person of faith, as a man, as an American, and possibly as our future commander in chief.”

 

Mansfield, says: “If a man’s faith is sincere, it is the most important thing about him, and it is impossible to understand who he is and how he will lead without first understanding the religious vision that informs his life.”

According to Mansfield, Obama is “raising the banner of what he hopes will be the faith-based politics of a new generation . . . and he will carry that banner to whatever heights of power his God and the American people allow.”

Recently, when Obama was interviewed by Rick Warren, Obama told Warren that Jesus Christ was his Lord and Savior. Yet this “banner” Obama raises is one that has an inter-spiritual foundation, representing a new kind of “Christianity,” one that looks more like Brian McLaren’s spirituality than traditional, biblical Christianity.

What emerges from this book is a glimpse of a man who has New Age philosophy, believing that other religions are legitimate paths to God, and all humanity is connected together (spiritually speaking – i.e., God is in all):

“Obama does clearly believe that the form of Christianity that he committed to at Trinity Church in 1985 is not the only path to God. ‘I am rooted in the Christian tradition,’ he has said. Nevertheless he asserts, ‘I believe there are many paths to the same place and that is a belief there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.’

 

“He first saw his broad embrace of faith modeled by his mother. ‘In our household,” he has explained, ‘The Bible, [t]he Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf … on Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to a church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.’” (p.55 of Mansfield’s book, quoting from Audacity of Hope, Obama, p. 203).

 

After his inter-spiritually-based upbringing, Obama later spent twenty years in a church, which promotes the panenthestic (God in all), inter-spiritual approach. In a 2006 article in United Church News, Obama stated that the teachings of the UCC (United Church of Christ), of which he was a member (Trinity United Church of Christ) until recently, are “foundation stones for his political work.” Just what are those “teachings” comprised of? On Trinity’s website, on the Yoga page, the following statement is highlighted:

 

“Within each [of] us is the seed of Divinity. Each Soul is divine. I bow to the divinity in us all!”

This is classic Hinduism that teaches that divinity resides in every human being. It is also the message of the New Age movement — man’s divinity!

In Obama’s own autobiography, Audacity of Hope, he calls himself a “progressive” (i.e., emerging or postmodern) and says: “We need to take faith seriously not simply to block the religious right but to engage all persons of faith in the larger project of American renewal” (p. 216). Echoing the sentiments of Rick Warren (a close friend of Obama, says Warren), he clarifies that partnerships between “religious and secular” will have to be built, and “each side will need to accept some ground rules for collaboration” (p. 216). He adds:

 

“Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” (p. 218)

Obama insists that to base national “policy” on biblical truths “would be a dangerous thing” to do (p. 220).

There is one sentence in Audacity of Hope that sums up Barack Obama’s spirituality. He states:

“When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static (stable) text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations.” (p. 224) In other words, just as Tony Jones said in his book The New Christians, and just as other emergents consistently say, the truths in the written Word of God, the Bible, are not unchanging and cannot be looked upon as stable or immoveable. “New revelations” can bring about new “truths” . . . truth is fluid.

To be interspiritual (all paths lead to God), to be panentheistic (divinity is in all), to reject God’s Word, and to embrace mysticism is to be what Alice Bailey called a rejuvenated Christian, who is one who follows “another gospel” and “another Jesus” (II Corinthians 11:4).

 

“Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’” (John 14:6)

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A Christian Defense Of Slavery by John MacArthur

Posted by Job on July 16, 2008

What can you say, John MacArthur is not politically correct! Me personally as a black man, the issue of slavery is a difficult one for me. But I was refusing to condemn the practice because the Bible does not, and I will NEVER claim that the righteousness of man with all of his humanist notions can somehow exceed the righteousness of God as He revealed Himself to us through scripture. This will be cringe – inducing at times – and MacArthur himself was uncomfortable saying some things – but please give the message a chance! (By the way: I am not a member of MacArthur’s church, nor do I agree with everything that he says. I just appreciate his willingness to stick his neck out and not bow to modern thinking on this issue). http://gty.org

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The Error Of The Evangelical Manifesto

Posted by Job on May 15, 2008

The “Evangelical Manifesto.”   Last Wednesday, a group of prominent
Evangelicals released the “Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of
Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment.”  The Steering Committee
includes: Os Guinness; Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford
University; Rich Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary; and Dallas
Willard, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern California.  It has
been signed by apx. 80 “evangelical leaders,” though when a trained eye
looks through the list of signers, it becomes apparent what this document is
really all about.

For those who have been part of the Liveprayer family for a while, you might
remember me mentioning the gutless Dr.Mouw back in December of 2004, who
along with Ravi Zacharias, became pawns used by the Mormons to give them
mainstream credibility.  Here is an excerpt from that 12/07/04 Devotional:
“Mouw preceded Zacharias and amazingly apologized, yes, apologized to the
Mormon crowd of roughly 7,000 stating, ‘We evangelicals have sinned against
you. We have demonized you.’ Since when was exposing the false gospel of the
Mormon cult a sin? That is exactly what we are supposed to do! Also, the
last I checked, those who lead people’s souls into everlasting damnation are
demonic!”

First of all, let me state the obvious.  We already have an “Evangelical
Manifesto,” it is called THE BIBLE and it has the greatest author of all
time…GOD!  The real purpose of this document is to create a shift in power
regarding those who are seen as the Christian leaders of our day and those
who speak for the Christian community.  Many years ago, I had to make some
hard choices.  Do I build a giant ministry organization and preach to the
choir like the rest, putting my voice into the same mix as Falwell,
Robertson, Kennedy, Dobson, Graham, and the others, or follow God’s calling
as a true evangelist and reach out to the lost and hurting souls outside the
four walls of the church, and take on more of a prophetic ministry to reach
this lost world with God’s Truth.  I made the decision to pass on the
comfort, prominence, prestige, and financial security of building another
Christian organization, and chose instead  to give my life reaching the lost
and hurting with the hope of Jesus Christ.

That choice has given me the unique position of being free from the politics
of the “church,” and allowed me to not have to compromise the Truth of the
Bible to keep a “Christian business” going.  Like the prophets in the Old
Testament, I have been in the unique position few are in, to deal with the
issues of the day and in people’s lives without worrying about pleasing men,
only God.  My focus has never had to be about raising money for
infrastructure and operations, only for saving souls.  I have no other
agenda but God’s.  My goals aren’t earthly but heavenly.  My legacy won’t be
in buildings or the temporal things of this world that will one day soon be
gone, but the lives God has used me to impact and the eternal souls of men.

Many of those who put together and signed this document are for the most
part those who I have warned you about in recent years, this emerging group
known as the “Christian left.”  Prominent signers of this murky document are
people like Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, and Rick Warren, Pastor of
Saddleback and author of the Purpose Driven Life.  A major portion of this
document is spent repudiating Christians involved in politics, and seeks to
replace the fight for life, marriage, and family issues, with a focus on
world hunger, AIDs in Africa, and environmental issues.   It also lashes out
at those who have the audacity to go into the public arena and take a stand
for Christ based on the Truth of God’s Word.  The document says evangelicals
have often expressed “truth without love,” helping create a backlash against
religion during a “generation of culture warring.”  The fact is, we have
been intimidated into silence by those who represent satan!

This is the mindset fostered by the “seeker,” “emerging church,” and “church
growth” crowd that for the past 15 years have watered down the Gospel and
set aside the absolutes of the Bible to attract warm bodies.  What they have
done is created a new subculture of “Christians” who might be saved, but
live no different than the world and easily embrace the lies of the false
religions, cults, and New Age teachings that are leading the souls of men to
hell.  This is why you have people like Oprah who claim to be a Christian,
yet promote the lies of every New Age guru that comes down the path.  This
is why you have people like Sen. Barak Hussein Obama who claims to be a
Christian, yet votes continually to slaughter babies and redefine God’s Holy
Institution of Marriage.  This is why you have Christians who think people
in a satanic cult like the Mormons will go to Heaven.  This is why you have
people who call themselves “Christians,” but deny that the Bible is the only
Truth there is!

Add to this the prominence of pastors who are little more than motivational
speakers like Robert Schuller and Joel Osteen who go into the secular media
when they want to sell their latest book, and brag bout never talking about
sin or the social issues of our day and refuse to answer the most simple
question of the faith, whether Jesus is the ONLY way to be saved or not.  So
people read their books, watch their TV programs to “feel good” and become
part of this new subculture of “Christians” who have no concept of basic
theology and embrace lies like “there are many roads that lead to God.

Don’t believe me?  Here is a typical email we get daily:  “I’m a
Metaphysical Christian and a Human being a child of GOD. I was baptized at
Saddleback Church with Rick Warren.  There is a very powerful wonderful
movement of consciousness going on right now obviously the old way is not
working very well. Watch a few Videos on Esther Hicks etc GOD bless you
too!”  What a load of garbage.  Metaphysical Christian???  The “old way” is
not working very well?  The old way being the Bible?  Ester Hicks is one of
the more popular New Age teachers out there today.  I wish you could see the
feed back I get daily from the Daily Devotional, from the TV program, from
my appearances on FOX News, CNN, and from the videos we post on YouTube.
People who call themselves “Christians,” yet reject the Bible as the only
Truth there is, and embrace beliefs that are in complete contradiction to
what the Bible teaches.

How did this happen?  It started with the church.  Forty years ago the
mainline denominations brought in pastors who were from liberal seminaries
and denied the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.  They quit preaching
the Gospel of Jesus Christ and opted for a social gospel instead.  At the
same time, you had this growing Christian subculture of Christian TV, radio,
and publishing, geared to and marketed to Christians.  Major ministries and
Christian organizations were birthed that generated tens of millions
annually, and for the most part did very little  but preach to the choir and
self perpetuate themselves from one year to the next.

Billions have been raised and squandered on the temporal things of this
world instead of on the work of God.  We have extracted ourselves from the
marketplace, and now not only have the better percentage of two full
generations who have never even been to church, but a new generation of
“Christians” who don’t believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of
God, representing Absolute Truth, and our final authority in all maters.  It
is no wonder our nation is in spiritual freefall and this world we live in
grows darker by the day.  Men of God in days gone by didn’t build great
organizations, they built up men and women to serve the Lord.  They only had
one book, the Bible, and one message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They
never compromised the Truth of God’s Word and their only goal was to save
souls!

I love you and care about you so much.  While I agree with 90% of what is in
the “Evangelical Manifesto,” the other 10% makes it a document designed to
give more power and prominence to those in the Christian left,  replace
abortion, marriage, and family issues with issues like world hunger, poverty
and disease, and calls for Christians to be more friendly to non-Christians
by not talking about things like sin and hell in the public.  Just in case
you were wondering, they never contacted me about signing this document.
LOL!!!

I have been warning you for years now about this new and growing group who
make up the Christian left who are now fighting with the old guard on the
Christian right for power and to be the voice of Christians.  The Christian
left waters down the Gospel and lays aside the absolutes of the Bible in
order to attract warm bodies and advance their social agenda, while the
Christian right has been turned into little more than a very lucrative
business that generates hundreds of millions annually around various causes
and is more concerned with power and self preservation than getting actual
results.  This leaves Christians alone to deal with the hurts and pains of
every day life with a very thin foundation to their faith, while the vast
majority of people are living without hope and heading to hell when they
die.

However, there is a remnant, a faithful group of Believers who have not sold
out and whose sole goal is to serve the Lord and see God’s Kingdom advanced.
Praise God for those faithful pastors and ministries that only want to see
the work of the Gospel accomplished as they share the Truth of God’s Word
without compromise and labor to bring the lost to faith in Jesus Christ.
These are the last days my friend.  Jesus is coming at any moment.  There is
no time for playing games.  People are dying and heading to hell every
second.  The focus of all Believers in Jesus Christ has to be on bringing
lost souls to faith in our Lord.  We don’t need an “Evangelical Manifesto,”
we already have one and it is called THE BIBLE!!!

In His love and service,
Your friend and brother in Christ,
Bill Keller bkeller@liveprayer.com 

***ARE YOU 100% CERTAIN WHERE YOU WILL SPEND ETERNITY?  The fact is you will die one day.  At that moment, you will either spend eternity with the Lord or be cast into everlasting darkness forever separated from God your creator. To know for certain you will be forever with Jesus, go to:
http://www.liveprayer.com/bdy_salvatn.cfm

***I am excited to let you know that the Liveprayer Daily Devotional is now available via AUDIO each day.  Simply go to http://www.liveprayer.com/Audio.cfm Also, you can now listen to the Daily Devotional by phone by calling, 1-727-342-5673 or 1-845-510-2722.

(C) Copyright 2008, Bill Keller Ministries. All rights reserved.

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R. C. Sproul Interviews Ben Stein On The Movie Expelled

Posted by Job on April 3, 2008

Posted in Christianity, evolution, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Satan Created Evolution Take 2

Posted by Job on April 2, 2008

From VenomFang.

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Satan Invented Evolution Take One

Posted by Job on April 2, 2008

From VenomFang.

Posted in Christianity, evolution, religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Cross: Joel Osteen Versus David Wilkerson

Posted by Job on November 26, 2007

false preacher Osteen

True preacher Wilkerson

Courtesy of http://SliceOfLaodicea.com 

Posted in Christianity, false doctrine, false preacher, false preachers, false teachers, false teaching, Joel Osteen | Tagged: , , | 25 Comments »

AMERICANS’ TRUE RELIGION: SECULAR HUMANISM

Posted by Job on November 6, 2007

newswithviews.com/Cuddy/dennis114.htm

By Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
November 5, 2007
NewsWithViews.com

(Note: On October 23, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1955, titled “The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.” Section 899A of the bill defines “violent radicalization” as “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.” Nowhere in the legislation is “extremist” or “violence” defined, so you can imagine how the government could even use this bill to imprison people like the founders of this nation! Also, overnight between this past Saturday and Sunday, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf declared what amounts to martial law. Look at my previous articles regarding the importance of Pakistan.)

You hear many people today saying what a mess this country is in. That’s because while surveys show most Americans claim to believe in Biblical religion, in practice, a growing number of younger people are really secular humanists. Why?

While young people’s values are shaped by the media, music, etc., the only thing they are required to do is go to school. And most of them attend public schools, where secular humanism exclusively has been “preached” for decades. How did this come about?

For the last two centuries, there has been in the U.S. a battle between the Biblically-based values of the American Revolution and the secular humanists’ values of the French Revolution, which emphasized Adam Weishaupt’s Illuminati philosophy of “do what thou wilt.” One of the leading proponents of the French Revolution was the Marquis de Lafayette, who brought Madame Francoise d’Arusmont (Fannie) Wright to the U.S. in the early 1800s. Here, she joined with Socialists Robert Dale Owen and Orestes Brownson secretly to take over America. According to Brownson, who later converted to Christianity, they wanted to establish a “national, rational, republican education, free for all at the expense of all, conducted under the guardianship of the State” with the purpose of separating children from what they considered the “negative influence” of parents. In terms of values instruction, they wanted to impart to the students values different from those of their parents, and this would come to be known as secular (not God-centered) humanistic education which emphasizes naturalistic evolution as well as moral relativism and situation ethics via values clarification techniques.

A few years after the plan of Owen, Wright and Brownson was begun, Karl Marx in 1844 authored ECONOMIC AND PHILOSOPHIC MANUSCRIPTS, which stated: “Communism begins from the outset with atheism. . . . Communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism” (see Naturalism chart). The next decade, Auguste Comte in 1851 began to author a series of volumes on his SYSTEM OF POSITIVE POLITY, with a “positivist” philosophy in which man, not God, would decide for himself what’s right or wrong.

During the last half of the 19th century and into the 20th century, this philosophy became dominant among American intellectuals, including educators and jurists. As these individuals in the 20th century gained control of American higher education and the federal courts, the philosophy began to spread, even to public elementary and secondary schools.

In 1930, Charles Francis Potter authored HUMANISM, A NEW RELIGION, in which he boasted: “Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism and every American public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday schools meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?”

Three years later, Potter signed the first HUMANIST MANIFESTO (1933) as did John Dewey, the “Father of Progressive Education.” The MANIFESTO’s first affirmation stated: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.” Secondly, it affirmed that man is a product of naturalistic evolution. Humanist Sir Julian Huxley, UNESCO’s first director-general, would later explain that humanism’s “keynote, the central concept to which all its details are related, is evolution.”

In 1954, former president of the American Humanist Association Lloyd Morain, and his wife Mary (a director of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, which has 4 million members), authored HUMANISM AS THE NEXT STEP, which declared that “Humanism is the most rapidly growing religious movement in America today.” With all of these references to humanism as a “religion,” it was no surprise when the U.S. Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins (June 19, 1961) listed “secular humanism” as a non-theistic religion.

One would think that with the Supreme Court’s “separation of church and state” rulings in the early 1960s banning school prayer and Bible reading, secular humanism would also be banned from public schools. This, though, was not the case. When a case eventually was brought before federal district Judge Brevard Hand, he sided with parents in their desire to ban this “religion” from public schools (see “Judge Bans Humanist Textbooks,” THE WASHINGTON POST, March 5, 1987). However, his decision was reversed at the federal Appeals Court level, which was dominated by a Positivist philosophy. This was despite the fact that even liberal WASHINGTON POST columnist Colman McCarthy in “Textbook Case Look Again” (April 5, 1987) wrote of Judge Hand’s decision about the school texts being challenged, saying “this highly relativistic and individualistic approach constitutes the promotion of a fundamental faith claim opposed to other religious faiths.” So much for “government neutrality” !

As the decade of the 1960s closed, leading educator Ted Sizer wrote in FIVE LECTURES…ON MORAL EDUCATION (1970) that “Christian sermonizing denies individual autonomy….Moral autonomy…is the ‘new morality’ toward which we are to guide ourselves and other people….Clearly the strict adherence to a (moral) ‘code’ is out of date.” Three years later (1973), HUMANIST MANIFESTO II was published and declared: “Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction.”

Three years after that, THE HUMANIST (January-February 1976) published an article by Sheila Schwartz expressing her thankfulness “the crazies (fundamentalists) don’t do all that much reading. If they did, they’d find out that they have already been defeated.” Then, the very next issue of THE HUMANIST (March-April 1976) contained an article by Paul Blanshard, in which he remarked : “I think the most important factor leading us to a secular society has been the educational factor. Our schools may not teach Johnny to read properly, but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is 16 tends to lead toward the elimination of religious superstition. The average child now acquires a high school education, and this militates against Adam and Eve and all other myths of alleged history.” Textbooks followed this same philosophy, as in the early 1970s, PERSPECTIVES IN UNITED STATES HISTORY informed students that “the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition was a god worshipped by desert folk…clearly man-created.”

The year after Blanshard’s article appeared, THE HUMANIST (January-February 1977) published an article by Sidney Hook, in which he explained that “human beings can be influenced to examine critically their religious beliefs only by indirection, (by which) I mean the development of a critical attitude in all our educational institutions that will aim to make students less credulous to claims that transcend their reflective experience.” And 3 years after that, Morris Storer (director of the American Humanist Association 1975-1980) declared in his book HUMANIST ETHICS (1980) that “a large majority of the educators of American colleges and universities are predominantly humanists, and a majority of the teachers who go out from their studies in colleges to responsibilities in primary and secondary schools are basically humanists, no matter that many maintain a nominal attachment to church or synagogue for good personal, social or practical reasons.”

The point in using all these quotes is to show that humanists’ control of American education and the values our children are taught in public schools is not an accident. If you need any more proof of this, the following quote by H. J. Blackham, a founder of the 4-million-member International Humanist and Ethical Union, should suffice. In THE HUMANIST (September-October 1981), he proclaimed that if schools teach dependence (in a moral sense) on one’s self, “they are more revolutionary than any conspiracy to overthrow the government.” Blackham was absolutely right, and this is exactly what the religion of secular humanism has done. It has become most Americans’ new religion, and that is reflected both in government (e.g., Supreme Court legalizing abortion) and in most Americans’ personal lives.

Humanists have not hidden their agenda, as John Dunphy’s prize-winning essay was published in THE HUMANIST (January-February 1983), and proclaimed that “the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom…between the rotting corpse of Christianity…and the new faith of humanism…(and) humanism will emerge triumphant.”

Unfortunately, humanism has “emerged triumphant” in the U.S. today. Not too long ago, the Josephson Institute of Ethics polled more than 20,000 middle and high school students and found that an amazing 47% acknowledged that they had stolen something from a store in the past 12 months. Do public school teachers and secular humanists tell students to steal? No, but they do say the student is an autonomous moral decisionmaker who should make up her or his own mind about what is right or wrong based on the situation. This could lead some students to say, “Most of the time I don’t steal, but that store owner ripped me off on the price of a sweater, so in this situation I didn’t see anything wrong with shoplifting something from him.”

Yes, secular humanism has become the new religion of most Americans today whether or not they realize. You think not? Ask yourself how many Americans cheat on their taxes! Public school textbooks actually have promoted this philosophy, as HEALTH COMMUNICATING SERIES asked first-graders: “Do you think there is ever a time when (cheating) might be right? Tell when it is. Tell why you think it’s right.”

The consequence of abandoning Biblical principles will be our “destruction.” Remember that in Philippians 3, Paul is talking about “the enemies of the cross of Christ,” and verse 19 reads: “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”

There is a famous quote about men and women becoming accomplices to the evils they fail to oppose. This is something of a paraphrase of the last part of Romans 1:32, and it applies to Americans and their new religion of secular humanism today. Shortly after the Iraq war began, a poll showed two-thirds of Americans supported torturing prisoners in wartime. Subsequently, the horrors of Abu Ghraib were made public. The American people basically invited this evil, and since God holds nations accountable for their actions and nations cannot be punished after this life, can’t we expect God to punish the U.S. and its people here in this life?

All of the so-called Christians who humanistically rationalize torture based on situation ethics should ask themselves what Jesus would say about this. You say you’re not one of those supporting torture, so you’re all right. Well, do you check to see from where the TV, radio, shirts, jeans, etc., which you buy come, so you’re sure they are not from Communist China, which tortures and kills Christians? If you buy products from China, you are supporting a torturing and murdering dictatorship, and what would Jesus say about that?

 

If I were a reporter at one of the current presidential debates, I would ask the candidates (and the millions of viewers watching) the following: “If Hitler and the Nazis controlled Germany, Austria, Poland, etc., today, and acknowledged murdering millions of Christians and Jews, would you have a trading relationship with them, supporting their economy and military?” After the gasps of unbelief from the candidates and viewers subsided, I would then ask: “Well, if you wouldn’t trade with Hitler, when are you going to end our trade with Communist China, which we all know has murdered tens of millions of innocent people, including many Christians whose body parts have been harvested to sell to Americans and others for implants?”

Remember Thomas Jefferson’s warning: “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

© 2007 Dennis Cuddy – All Rights Reserved

 

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Three Christian Arguments Against The Confederate Flag

Posted by Job on September 21, 2007

Fish FlagI must admit that for various reasons, I have long been personally more sympathetic to the white southern Confederate sorts than to liberals of any region or race. (This same sympathy and tolerance does not extend to any person born or raised outside the south who chooses to attach themselves to the Confederacy in any way for any reason, for their motives are inherently suspect and reasoning faulty.) For that reason, I have long taken seriously and given careful thought to what they say about the Confederacy, the flag, and the war. But I have changed my mind on this matter, and here are my three reasons.

1. A divine name given in scripture is Jehovah – Nissi. It means that God Himself is our flag. The Confederate flag is not divine, and associating any inherent righteousness or any other divine quality with it is the sin of idolatry and blasphemy. The Confederate flag represents a government made my men, making it a worldly symbol just like any other. Christians are not supposed to be conformed to the world or its ways, and that means that they should not represent or be represented by any other worldly symbol. Now harmless identification with certain symbols and identifiers that you use to SUPERFICIALLY associate yourself as a citizen of a certain nation, an alumni of a certain high school, a member of a certain local church, etc. are OK so long as you keep it as that. But the instant you start using these worldly symbols to represent what you stand for and who you are, it is the equivalent of, well, taking a mark.

2. The notion that the Confederate flag is a Christian symbol because it represents Saint Andrew’s cross is a lie. Jesus Christ was not crucified on Saint Andrew’s cross, Andrew was. Were Andrew alive today, he would A) vigorously oppose to being beatified as a saint and B) even more so oppose his death being elevated or honored with a symbol or flag in any sort. Andrew would tell you to focus on the the cross and death of Jesus Christ alone. How do we know this? Because the Bible says so. Soli deo gloria, remember? The very notion of making anything of the cross that Andrew died on other than that he was a martyr for JESUS CHRIST is idolatry that came to us from Rome. In order for the Confederate flag to be a Christian symbol, it would need a cross or something else directly representing sola Christo – Christ alone – whether it be a cross, a star of Bethlehem, a Last Supper scene, etc.

3. The Confederate flag was a symbol of a state based on sin. Is slavery a sin? The Bible never says so – though it never proscribes or blesses the institution either – and as such I oppose any human making something into a sin that God did not. However, the way that slavery was practiced in the south violated the slave codes in Exodus and Deuteronomy as well as the epistle to Philemon in every single way. And how important was slavery to the south? It cost them their nation. Do not believe their lies that the war was not over slavery – as statements from Jefferson Davis and other Confederacy leaders plainly say otherwise – or that the south planned to free the slaves after the war, but in a more humane fashion than simply casting them out.

A. First off, the brutal treatment of blacks by whites during Reconstruction (which was actually worse than slavery itself) reveals two things: the south had no humane or kind intentions or feelings of good will for blacks, and the south blamed blacks for the war. The latter is a specific refutation that the war had nothing to do with black people.

B. Had the South freed the slaves before the war, they would have easily won it. As a matter of fact, there might never have been a war at all! Why not? Britain. The Confederacy would have been a natural ally with England for a variety of reasons, and the Union, which barely beat the Confederacy as it was, would not have stood a chance against the alliance either militarily or economically. But solely because of the slavery that had been made an issue by such English Christian abolitionists as William Wilberforce, Britain did not so much as recognize the new politically. Confederacy apologists themselves acknowledge that the Emancipation Proclamation had more to do with preventing Britain from recognizing and helping the South than it did with slavery. That shows that there was great support for allying with the Confederacy in Britain in spite of slavery! Had the south freed its slaves, Britain would have immediately recognized the Confederacy, become its primary trading partner and ally, and would have punished the Union militarily and economically for any incursion. As a matter of fact, a Confederate – British alliance would have left the Union in quite bad shape. Certainly they would have allied with France, but would have brought very little to the table! But the Confederacy threw away their prosperous future under a sovereign nation to instead bring defeat and ruin upon themselves just because they would not let the slaves go! It reminds you of Egypt in Exodus, does it not?

So all Christians that continue to romanticize the Confederacy and all that pertains to it, you are making and loving a lie, and thereby sinning. I am here today to warn you that God will require your doing so on judgment day! I entreat you to put down your Confederate flag and everything else that represents the lies and rebellious pride of a world that has rejected God and always sought to replace Him with false gods of their own that are made with hands and not gods at all, and to instead pick up your Bibles. If you want a flag or a bumper sticker for your car, allow me to suggest the fisher of men symbol, which actually does represent Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven, instead.

Fish Flag

Posted in catholic, Christianity, idolatry | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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