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 ‘orthopraxy’

Regarding The Absolute Necessity Of Sound Doctrine

Posted by Job on October 26, 2011

An excellent article by R. K. McGregor Wright. Please read link below.

Absolute Necessity Of Sound Doctrine

Advertisements

Posted in Bible, Christianity, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by Job on December 25, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

Posted in Bible, Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Does Calvinism Hinder Evangelism? Yes And No …

Posted by Job on July 18, 2010

Saw this Calvinism & Evangelism: A Baptist Conversation and regretted not being able to participate in the discussion like I wished, so I will address some points here. First off, it is not Calvinism that hinders evangelism. It is doctrinal error. For example, plenty of liberal or “moderate” free will/Arminian churches (i.e. Methodist, Baptist) have adopted a “many paths to heaven” pluralistic theology, and others have given themselves over to the social gospel. In the former camp, such people reject evangelism and especially missions, believing the former to be a bigoted example of asserting one religious tradition’s superiority to another, and the latter to be religious and cultural imperialism. Among the latter, they believe that evangelism diverts energies, resources and passions from helping the poor, fighting injustice and working towards a more equal society. Now free will Christians PRACTICALLY NEVER address the beam in their own eye by associating their soteriology with the anti-evangelism stances of, say, the liberal/social gospel Methodists like Hillary Clinton that take John Wesley’s zeal for evangelizing the lost and redirect it towards improving society. Instead, they focus on the mote in the eyes of Calvinists whose hearts are hardened towards the gospel because they believe the false implications, applications and conclusions that they draw from the Biblical doctrines of predestination, election and limited atonement. Now it is just as easy to draw distinctions between Calvinists who follow after error and legitimate, Bible-based Calvinism as it is to do the same between a strong, solid free will salvation preacher and the “Methodists” that are performing homosexual marriages. It is just that the anti-Calvinist crowd chooses to make those distinctions when it comes to those who share their soteriology while (in a most unprincipled fashion) refusing to distinguish between John Ryland, Sr. and William Carey.

Now most anti-Calvinists address the success of Calvinist evangelists like Carey with the dishonest claim that “they successfully spread the gospel in spite of Calvinism” and then go on to produce statements and writings from such people that purport to show them conflicted, grieved and double-minded over their love for the lost and their love for predestination/limited atonement doctrines, and attribute any evangelistic success on their part to the former love’s being greater than the latter. First, even if they were conflicted in this manner, it is to their CREDIT that they struggled to try to reconcile seemingly conflicting scriptural doctrines, as opposed to the practice of the Wesleyan of either pretending that the scriptures pertaining to, say, predestination either don’t exist or don’t mean what the words in them say that they do. Second, BIBLICAL Calvinists know that the same BIBLE which contains T.U.L.I.P. also contains the Great Commission. Thus, the duty is to believe both, keep both and let God work out the details. When one accepts the full implications of the doctrine that it is God Himself who converts people and not man, and that man’s role is to be the instrument that God wishes to use bring conversion about, then in practice (orthopraxy) it works out any contradictions in speculative theology. Men preach, God saves, and it is simple as that. So, any problems are due to the unwillingness to simply obey God and preach and not any existential philosophical conundrum conflicts over “if a preacher preaches and no one is converted because there are no objects of God’s predestination and limited atonement in the audience, then has he really preached?”

Further, the motivation for our preaching should not – or at least not solely – be so that God can save. Instead, the motivation for preaching should be that God told us to. If we don’t preach, witness, evangelize or do missions, we knowingly commit high-handed sin against God, which is bad enough in and of itself without the consideration that people aren’t getting saved. After all, which is worse … that God is being disobeyed and sinned against or that people aren’t getting saved? If you pick the latter, then your doctrine and practice is man-centered and hence flawed. But Calvinists pick the former. A God centered approach means that God is being obeyed and hence worshiped and glorified regardless of the results. So while the free will Christian grieves over people not being saved, the Calvinist grieves over God not being glorified. In the latter approach, God is glorified and the people follow. But with the former, the interests of people are being served, and God is expected or presumed to follow. Which is better?

Well by now you might be wondering “he said Yes AND No, but so far we have only heard the NO. What about the YES”? Well allow me to say that Calvinism DOES make evangelism HARDER. And as well it should. If the primary purpose of evangelism is to glorify and worship God rather than to save men and to suit the purposes of the evangelist, then that will place a premium on doing evangelism correctly, and by that I mean in a reverent, God-honoring fashion by God-honoring people. We are supposed to serve God – and this includes evangelism – in the way that we are to work out our own salvation, which is with fear and trembling. (Note that the free will Christian sees no contradiction between salvation through faith and salvation with some combination of faith and works in Philemon 2:12. The reason is that when that verse is properly interpreted, no such contradiction exists. The same is true of the contradictions that allegedly exist between the doctrine of limited atonement and John 3:16 … they don’t).  Hebrews 12:28 (and yes I do rely on BlueLetterBible.org, a free will site) commands us to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”, and this applies to service to God through evangelism just like everything else.

The perspective whereby we must seek to honor, serve and glorify God first makes it harder to do self-serving, self-seeking, flesh-pleasing “evangelism” because we are driven by results (conversions, baptisms, church growth, church plants, numbers numbers numbers). It removes us from the capitalist, big business fast food approach to evangelism where we logically conclude that since we are securing human decisions for Jesus Christ, then if people don’t choose Jesus Christ, then the problem is either with the evangelist trying to make the sale or the packaging that the evangelist has adorned the gospel of Jesus Christ with. Instead, it accepts the idea that since a sovereign God is drawing people unto Himself USING evangelists, then playing the numbers game presumes to know God’s plan for a particular church, or the believers in a particular time and place. All the Great Commission promises is that the gospel will be preached in every nation, and that people from every tribe and tongue will be converted. The great commission does not promise that a particular church will always grow, or that a particular nation will have a certain percentage of its population as born-again believers. So, the “seeker-sensitive/emergent” efforts to “repackage the gospel”, to “rebrand the church” or even to “take back our country politically and legally and return it to its Christian heritage” is based on a set of assumptions that cannot be supported in scripture. For instance, even as we are mourning the declining numbers in conservative evangelical and fundamentalist churches in America and the west (and in the instance of the Southern Baptist Convention, scapegoating Calvinists for it!), church growth is booming in third world countries, which in some cases have gone from being evangelized by missionaries barely 100 years ago to sending out their own missionaries, including in some instances back to the west! (Yes, I am aware that most of this is due to free will missionaries. However, it is equally true that a lot of that is due to PENTECOSTAL missionaries. So I will begin to complain about the gospel being spread by free will Christians when the Baptists and Methodists start complaining about the gospel being spread by Pentecostals. My position is that God uses born-again people to preach the gospel, not people who adhere to a particular denomination or system of soteriology.) So if the sovereign God has decided that the time for the west’s dominance of Christianity has passed, and it is now time for Asia, Africa and Latin America to rise to the forefront, who are we to say otherwise? Especially as the church was born not in the west but in the near east to begin with? So it can and should be said that Calvinism DOES hinder BAD EVANGELISM DOCTRINES AND PRACTICES THAT DISHONOR GOD AND DENY HIS SOVEREIGNTY IN FAVOR OF APPEALING TO THE BASE INSTINCTS OF MAN’S FLESH THAT SHOULDN’T EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE, and that’s a good thing.

Also, we must wonder why this charge, that “Calvinism hinders evangelism” is so effective in the first place; why it wounds and hurts. To start, we must address why it is used to begin with. One should acknowledge that the Calvinism/free will debate is basically unwinnable by either side. Both sides have a good amount of scriptural evidence at their disposal, but no matter where one stands on the Calvin/Wesley divide it is impossible to in good conscience be dogmatic because scripture texts reasonably interpreted to support the other side do in fact exist and cannot be ignored. That being said, there is clearly, undeniably MORE EVIDENCE on the Calvinist side than on the free will side. Being faced with that reality, the “Calvinism hinders evangelism” charge is used to tip the scales. The person thinks “well, there is a lot in the Bible that supports Calvinism, but I don’t want to stand against winning the lost!” and makes what appears to be the safe, moral God honoring position out of a love for God’s lost sheep.

While that is admirable on the surface, allow me to point out two things. First, the charge is not that Calvinism STOPS evangelism, only that Calvinism HINDERS it. In addition to my modifier above, that Calvinism hinders GOD-DISHONORING evangelism, realize even apart from that context that there is a huge difference between HINDERING something and STOPPING IT ALTOGETHER. If it could be said that Calvinism STOPS evangelism, then again that would put Calvinism against God and His Commandments by causing its adherents to reject the Great Commission. As stated earlier, that only applies to so-called Christians in BOTH Calvinist AND free will traditions, who disobey God in that area. But hindering evangelism only means making it go slower, and perhaps less than certain people want it to or think that it should. And I have already mentioned that the presumption of perpetual church growth is a bad one. So then, why is it such a strong, effective charge?

The reason is that a lot of people have a distorted view of evangelism and its importance in Christian life. Some of this is due to emotionalism, but some of it is also due to the evangelistic fervor injected into Christianity first by Wesleyanism and then by premillennial dispensational fundamentalism. And they are actually somewhat related. Wesley, coming from the Church of England as he was, adhered to an amillennial background. Hence, it is not by accident that the liberal social gospel doctrines originated with Wesleyan Methodism. Wesley believed that by winning as many converts as quickly as possible, the church could first renew and transform society and then pave the way for and speed the return of Jesus Christ. The difference between Wesleyanism and the social gospel is that liberal theologians simply allegorize (deny) the literal return of Jesus Christ, claiming that the return of Jesus Christ and New Jerusalem are only metaphors for an ideal society where things such as poverty, hunger, disease and war have practically been eliminated thanks to the good works of Christians. (Again, Hillary Clinton adheres to this system, which is itself a forerunner to the even more secular and radical liberation theology.) Premillennial dispensational Christians for their part are driven to prioritize evangelism because of the beliefs that A) getting the gospel to every nation will speed the rapture and return of Jesus Christ and B) a desire to reduce the number of people who never hear the gospel and hence enter into eternity without ever being afforded the privilege of being able to make a free will decision for Jesus Christ.

Allow me to state that having an unbalanced view of any area of Christian life is harmful and can lead to error. For instance, emphasizing sanctification too much leads to legalism. Emphasizing ethics and good works too much leads to the social gospel. Emphasizing prophecy and eschatology too much harms our ability to live in the here and now. Emphasizing grace and eternal security too much leads to antinomianism. And even fundamentalists have questioned if their emphasis on evangelism has come at the expense of discipleship. Thus, if Calvinism’s hindering of evangelism means not making evangelism the head of Christian practice and the primary goal and reason for existence for every church, then again Calvinism is a good thing. If you have the idea that Christians must primarily be concerned about saving other people from the lake of fire because going to the lake of fire is such a terrible and horrible thing for people, then that is man-centered theology and practice rearing its ugly head again. But if you have the idea that Christians must be concerned about evangelism because it is one of the many things that Christians must do to serve, obey and glorify God, then evangelism can take a balanced, proper role in the life of every Christian assembly and individual believer.

Allow me to provide a metaphor, example, allegory, illustration or whatever: people who work in engineering or technology. Most such people want to do so because of their passion and aptitude for inventing and creating. So, they go about acquiring the education and training required to enter such fields and then obtain employment expecting to spend their days building better mousetraps. However, upon obtaining employment, they find that most of their time is dedicated to reading reports, writing documentation, giving presentations, meeting with clients, fixing things that break, and making slight improvements to things that already work. Opportunities to work on or create something that is wholly new are few and far between, and even when they come, it is usually not something spectacular like inventing the light bulb, airplane or telephone like Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers or Alexander Graham Bell (who themselves, incidentally needed to build upon other discoveries to make those) but rather something that appears to be mundane that anyone could have done. What adds to the frustration of the erstwhile Eli Whitneys and George Washington Carvers is that there are plenty of people who are actually terrible at engineering, science and technology but great at “the other stuff” who have no problem not only retaining employment, but getting high salaries and promotions. Meanwhile, people with great skills and ideas who lack the ability or desire to excel at analyzing reports or giving presentations find their careers stymied, even ended. However, over time, these people realize that meeting with clients (who have a real business need) and giving them mundane products (which meets their need and is all that they can afford) is what keeps the business going. If you keep the business going long enough and do a good job on the routine tasks, then eventually you will get the opportunity to work on something new and exciting! But if you despise the routine tasks, you get fired and as a result never get to work on what is near and dear to your heart. Instead, that opportunity goes to the lesser talented person who did the mundane stuff the best that he could because he appreciated his job and his opportunity. And if EVERYONE despises the routine tasks, then the company goes broke, everyone loses their job and NO ONE gets a chance to work in something exciting or special. Also, it is by working hard, reading reports, meeting clients, giving presentations etc. that you LEARN how to make something NEW that people actually WANT, NEED and CAN USE. There have been lots of fascinating inventions created by people who had great technical skills but no knowledge of people or markets, and such inventions usually wind up being things that no one needs, wants, knows how to use or care to learn. The reason is that the inventors were more motivated in satisfying their own desire to invent than they were to invent something that people want and need.

This example can apply to Christian life. Effective, God-honoring evangelism can only be consistently done – whether individually or corporately – by people who live and honor the whole counsel of God, by people who know all the things that Jesus Christ did and taught as it is recorded in the Bible. Basically, effective, God-honoring evangelism is best done by people who do everything else that God tells them to do also, because it is those people who know what God wants in an evangelist. What is it that God wants in an evangelist? Simply, someone who is aware of his own worthlessness, his own uselessness, his own limitations and therefore relies totally on God. It is the evangelists who prioritize evangelism above all else and declare themselves to be “great soul-winners” that ultimately wind up building human monuments and institutions to their own greatness. Well, those people have their rewards on earth, and what they build and create won’t last the test of time, because they are like the self-absorbed inventors who create things that have no practical use described earlier. Or, such people will be frustrated with not getting the opportunity to do what they want to do, what matters to them, and what in their opinion fits their great skills and talents and leave. But the people who recognize that they aren’t really that smart or brilliant, and the people who LIKE doing the difficult unglamorous things because they are glad simply to have a place in God’s kingdom and dwell in God’s presence are the ones that God will raise up to do His Will, whether it is evangelism or other tasks to His glory.

And as far as the “mundane things”? Well most evangelism simply is – or seems to be – mundane. Now we all may admire the great revivals and missions started by Wesley, Carey, Edwards etc. However, those events – great moves of God – are not routine but rare and spectacular that few people will ever even take part in, let alone lead. So, instead of the spectacular – and while we are waiting on the spectacular – then things like leading our children to Christ, leading our friends and neighbors to Christ, leading our relatives to Christ should not be despised. And yet, many of the very free will Christians who accuse Calvinists of hindering evangelism aren’t even doing that. Ironic, isn’t it?

Not really. The reason is that there are two principles involved that often get overlooked. The first is that God is sovereign. God controls not only who gets saved, but when. Consider Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts. The narrative makes clear that the Holy Spirit had both Philip and the eunuch in the right place at the right time, and also had the hearts and minds of both prepared: Philip to give the gospel and the eunuch to receive it. Philip was among those driven from Jerusalem by persecution, and the eunuch was in the area to fulfill religious obligations, attempting to understand the meaning of a passage from Isaiah. Without God, it wouldn’t have happened. Without God, it couldn’t have happened.

And the persecution that caused Philip to meet the Ethiopian eunuch? It was caused by Paul, the same who was saved by God as he was heading to Damascus. God chose the time and place, not Paul.

Another thing: the Bible makes it clear that before God entrusts us with great things and many things, we must prove faithful in fewer, smaller things. So, how are we going to succeed in big evangelistic efforts like the Southern Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Resurgence if we are not doing door to door evangelism? And how can we do door to door evangelism of strangers if we aren’t telling our friends and neighbors about Jesus Christ? And how can we tell our friends and neighbors about Jesus Christ if we are not living balanced, obedient Christian lives that results from good discipleship and leads to spiritual maturity? If these were not the case, then it would turn the parable of the talents on its head. Again, consider Paul. He did not begin his missionary travels until YEARS after his conversion, and even then he was initially an UNDERSTUDY of Barnabas, who had been in the faith longer.

So, it is not Calvinism, dear Christian, that hinders evangelism. If anything hinders evangelism within a Christian, it is spiritual immaturity that results from either a lack of right belief (orthodoxy), or a failure to translate right belief into right practice (orthopraxy) and to do so consistently in all areas of Christian living, not just those which appeal to us and earn us the praise of men. Now if our free will/Arminian brothers and sisters in the faith wish to make the case that Calvinism causes spiritual immaturity, then go ahead, I am all ears. Otherwise, their false charge against Calvinism is based on false assumptions (i.e. that churches should always grow, instead of the historically proven fact that churches and movements spread, wax and wane) and presuppositions (that evangelism should be man-focused like consumer marketing instead of God-centered like true worship) and should be rejected as spurious.

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Prayer: The Most Effective Spiritual Warfare And Deliverance Weapon And Tactic

Posted by Job on July 3, 2010

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a [certain] man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:14-21

Much has been written in the area of spiritual warfare and deliverance. Some of it is based on scripture, some on experience, some on things taught and handed down, some on what purports to be revelation, some on conjecture, and usually the final product is some combination of these things. I do not deny that these techniques cannot yield results, because that would be denying what I have seen with my own eyes and borne witness to with my own testimony. However, “whatever works” cannot be the basis of sound Christian belief and practice. A good reason for this is simple: “results may vary!” In the scientific community, one of the major tests used to establish and verify a theory using experiments or observation is repeatable results. Since the results of the various spiritual warfare techniques, strategies and methods do in fact vary – a fact that the teachers and proponents of these methods freely admit – we cannot rely on unreliable experientialism for our Christian doctrine and practice. Instead, we must rely on the Bible. The Bible is God’s unique, Holy Spirit inspired revelation that is inerrant, infallible and the final authority in all things. So, even though the varying results is enough to justify being suspect of a lot of the spiritual warfare and deliverance teachings, the truth is that the doctrine of scripture means that Christians should not rely on practices and beliefs not supported in scripture even if they did work every time. So even if it does work, then what profit is it if the “work” is not of God and does not glorify God? The purpose of Christian living is to serve and glorify God, not to do the things that we want to do and believe that should be done ourselves. As the Bible is the final authority and is 100% infallible, then the Bible gives us perfect instructions on how to live to serve and glorify God in all areas. The Bible is what teaches us, and the Bible is what we must use to teach others.

So, based on the revelation of Jesus Christ as given to us in the Bible – and the purpose of the entirety of scripture is to reveal Jesus Christ – the best, surest way and the starting point for all spiritual warfare and deliverance is prayer. Prayer is the first and best weapon against the evil one and his forces. Consider, for instance, the Lord’s prayer.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13 and also Luke 11:2-4

How many of you knew that this was a spiritual warfare and deliverance prayer? It is. For one thing, it deals with forgiveness of sin, as it asks that our own sins be forgiven by God AND that we forgive the sins of others. Failure to forgive the sins of others, especially against us, leads to anger and resentment that Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us “gives a place to the devil.” For another, it asks that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and it is certainly God’s will for evil spirits and their influence to be bound, hindered, cast out and defeated (Matthew 12:28, Luke 11:20). But there is also a more direct reference. “Deliver us from evil” in the Lord’s prayer not only means “keep us from sin” (with all the spiritual warfare things that go along with sinning) but many expert theologians and Bible scholars follow Martin Luther in asserting that “deliver us from evil” should read “deliver us from the evil one”, which is Satan.

Now Martin Luther was not one to deny that Christians in our time need to directly confront unclean spirits. Quite the contrary, Luther claimed to have seen Satan and thrown a bottle of ink at him! (Small wonder that a current popular trend – or evil spirit – of deception moving through modern Christianity is to attack Martin Luther and claim that the Reformation, the exodus from the darkness of Roman Catholicism, was a mistake!) So, the Lord’s Prayer is quite literally and unquestionably a direct, powerful spiritual warfare and deliverance prayer. It petitions that God would overcome the presence and effects of sin and evil spirits in our lives. It even addresses the area most often neglected by spiritual warfare teachers, which is the flesh or the old man which still exerts a negative influence on born again Christians as described in Romans 5-7 when asking God to help us to forgive others, and in particular not to view the transgressions of others against us personally more prominently than we view our own transgressions against God. What stronger impulses of the flesh are there than hypocrisy and self-centeredness? And this prayer also explicitly directly asks for protection from all evil spirits through a reference to their leader, Satan. And as Jesus Christ explained in Matthew 12:24-30, being protected from Satan means being protected from all evil spirits.

However, the importance and primacy of prayer in spiritual warfare is often overlooked. Instead, the commonly advised and emulated strategy is to imitate the actions of Jesus Christ and His apostles during their spectacular encounters with evil spirits, and also to mix in things learned from other teachings and our own experiences. In doing so, we ignore that the most repeated and striking thing concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ was His prayer life. His ministry began with 40 days of fasting and prayer in the wilderness, and the gospels make it clear that seeking the will of God the Father in prayer was far more prominent in the ministry of Jesus Christ than all the sermons, exorcisms and miracles put together. To put it better, Jesus Christ came not so much to preach and perform miracles and exorcisms as He did to do the will of God the Father, and so Jesus Christ only preached, performed miracles and did exorcisms when it was the will of God the Father that He do so. When it was not the will of God the Father for Him to do so, Jesus Christ did no sermons, miracles or exorcisms, because even being God in the flesh with power and being deserving of praise and glory Himself, had Jesus Christ done those things of His own accord or on His own initiative, God the Father would not have been glorified, and Jesus Christ would have thereby sinned. (Of course, we know that Jesus Christ, being God, cannot sin.) And this was how Satan tempted Jesus Christ during His time of fast … by attempting to get Jesus Christ to take an action apart from the will and direction of God. It was the same temptation that Satan gave to Adam. Where Adam failed, Jesus Christ succeeded. And Christians are to follow Jesus Christ’s success and not Adam’s failure. Follow Adam, and man is glorified. Follow Jesus Christ and God is glorified. To God alone be the glory!

That is why spiritual warfare and deliverance must begin with and be dominated by prayer. We cannot take initiative or authority upon ourselves. We cannot presume to know, for instance, if the issue that we are addressing is motivated by evil spirits in the first place. We also cannot presume the manner and time in which God desires the evil spirit to be cast out. Further, we cannot even presume that God wants the evil spirit to be driven off in the first place! A powerful example of this is the thorn in the flesh described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Now there has been a lot of needless conjecture as to what exactly the “thorn in the flesh” was, but this is only because people have such difficulty believing what the text plainly says, often for doctrinal reasons. But it is clear: “the messenger of Satan” is clearly in the Greek “the angel of Satan”, and we all know that angels of Satan are evil, unclean spirits, or demons. Now for some people, the idea that a born again Christian, an apostle no less, would be tormented by a demon is doctrinally troublesome. For others, the wording of the passage makes it appear as “there was given to me” means that God gave the demon to Paul, which would seem to charge God with being responsible for temptation or evil where scripture tells us that God cannot be the author of evil. However, this stunning passage does recall how God allowed and used Satan in His dealings with Job in the Old Testament. Just as God allowed Satan to attack Job in the Old Testament for purposes that glorified God and ultimately were a blessing to Job, God allowed one of Satan’s demons to do the same regarding the apostle of Jesus Christ Paul. So then, it would not have been to the will of God or glory of God to drive this evil spirit from oppressing or tormenting Paul. Please recall: the evil spirit could not possess Paul because Christians are possessed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. So, the demon could only afflict Paul.

And please note that Paul first sought the Lord in prayer concerning the evil spirit. Scripture does not record failed attempts at spiritual warfare and deliverance by Paul concerning the demon, and we cannot presume that these failed attempts existed because the Bible does not record them. Instead, it records Paul’s asking God three times for permission to drive the demon away, and God denying this permission for His own sovereign, God-glorifying purposes which were in service to God’s plan to conform Paul into the image of Jesus Christ! So let us not be deceived. These are not matters to be trifled with. Christians in the spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries must not act according to presumption, self-will and self-initiative. Instead, we must be guided and directed by God’s Holy Spirit. Being Holy Spirit-led and Holy Spirit-filled requires much preparation in ways that include prayer, Bible study, fellowship and good works which are conducive to spiritual maturity in advance (Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting) and also seeking God’s will during the necessary time. Note that I did not say during the time of spiritual confrontation with the forces of evil, for God must permit and instruct us when and whether He wants us to participate in such spiritual confrontations to begin with. Again, it is God’s will that is being done, not ours. It is God that is being glorified, not us. And we are acting in accordance to God’s sovereign will and not our own desires or feelings. This is why we must rely on prayer. We must humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God’s design, God’s plan, and God’s actions through prayer. Otherwise, we take rash actions of self-interest and self-will as did King Saul, who failed to wait on the Lord and found his kingdom and life – and those of his sons – taken from him.

Returning to apostle Paul, spiritual warfare and deliverance ministers have centered on the Ephesians 6:10-17 as one of their favorites for study and practice.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Regrettably, one of the reasons for this is that this passage, when taken incautiously, can invite the flesh to imagine oneself in the manner of this strong, mighty righteous and powerful HUMAN warrior image against the forces of evil, an image that we have seen reinforced time and time again in secular Hollywood movies and TV shows. Incautious and out of contexts readings and applications of this passage may cause us to think that in the Name of Jesus Christ WE have the power, WE have the authority, WE have the dominion, WE can challenge and take over strongholds and defeat the enemy, and that in doing so God’s will shall be done and He shall be glorified. This is indeed the doctrines of many popular spiritual warfare and deliverance teachers. However, such self-seeking presumption is not coming in the Name of Jesus Christ at all, but instead coming in our own name. It is so tempting to reject the counsel of those who actually do come in the Name of Jesus Christ and instead come in their own names (see John 5:43), but reject it we must. For Jesus Christ said that all who call on His Name, even all who cast out devils and do great works using His Name are not truly His. People who use the Name of Jesus Christ in accordance with self-seeking are not Jesus Christ’s sheep, because though they call on the Name of God, like Adam they are following after their own hearts. Instead, Jesus Christ’s sheep will be people who are after God’s heart, so they will seek direction from God and patiently wait on God before they act. The identifying fruit of the spiritual warfare and deliverance minister who is God’s sheep is one who exhibits patience, humility and submission in seeking the will of God lest he sin and lead others into sin, and not one who rushes in according to his own human desires and limited knowledge and misuses and misappropriates the Name of Jesus Christ carelessly, recklessly, proudly and selfishly. Instead of seeking to take authority and power after the manner of human rulers, we should be seeking to submit ourselves to, rely upon and glorify God after the manner of God’s humble servants, including the one Jesus Christ who emptied Himself, came to earth as a man, suffered humiliation and rejection, and was slain for our sins in our place on the cross, and was raised for our justification. It is the manner of the humble Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead and is blessed forever that we should emulate and identify with, and not the manner of proud, presumptive, arrogant and self-willed humanity, or for that manner of the tempter and deceiver of humanity Satan, who in his presumption decided that he would be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:14). Make no mistake, but in doing anything, including spiritual warfare, without first making certain that we are doing God’s will and not man’s, we are emulating not Jesus Christ in His submission and sacrifice  to the glory of God, but Satan in his mad and failed attempt at being a usurper of God’s glory. From such, spiritual warfare and deliverance minister, turn away!

Instead, turn your attention to the oft-neglected end of the “put on the whole armor of God” passage, which is verse 18, which reads “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” It clearly shows that the primary and main ingredient to spiritual warfare, to putting on the whole armor of God for confrontations against the enemy, is “praying always in asking to the Holy Spirit.” We are to always pray so that we can ask of the Holy Spirit that indwells all Christians concerning the Will of God. Without receiving and submitting to the will of God in spiritual warfare (or anything else) we aren’t performing spiritual warfare at all, but instead proud, self-seeking and harmful bombast that resists the Holy Spirit, misuses the Name of Jesus Christ, dishonors His sacrifice on the cross and refuses to glorify God the Father.  Thus, so-called spiritual warfare that rejects prayer in supplication to the Holy Spirit before, during and after is nothing more than an abomination against the Holy Trinity in clear, explicit ways.

One should note that the primacy of prayer in spiritual warfare is given at the end of both Matthew 17:14-21 and of Ephesians 6:10-18. One also notes that no explicit references to prayer seem to be made in many of the New Testament exorcism narrative accounts and references. That is indeed curious, as one would think that in Matthew 17:14-21 and Ephesians 6:10-18 that the most important thing would come first as a lead instead of coming last, and also that there would be a stronger correlation depicted between prayer and spiritual warfare. This is still more evidence of how spiritual things often do not conform to our human expectations. It is a test of our faith, of our faithfulness, of our humility and submission to see if we will study the whole counsel of God as revealed in scripture. To see if we will seek God in spirit and in truth as He commanded us to so. To answer the door of our hearts when He stands and knocks so that He will come in, sup with us, and teach us the truth. Those of us truly interested in knowing and serving God will search, notice and find these things so that we can go about performing spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry – and please recall that ministry means service, and that it is service to God first and then to man – God’s way. Those who are not will cut corners, interpret passages out of context and selectively, and do whatever we can in order to claim to be serving God in God’s way when they will really be serving themselves in their own way.

So I ask and challenge you spiritual deliverance and warfare minister. In what way have you been serving in your ministry before now? And in what way will you serve in your ministry in the future?

Posted in Bible, Christianity, discernment, Jesus Christ, prayer, spiritual deliverance, spiritual deliverance techniques, spiritual warfare | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments »

Jeremiah Wright’s Adultery With A White Woman Is An Example Of 1 Timothy 6 False Doctrine Leads To Sexual Immorality!

Posted by Job on September 11, 2008

My position is that 1 Timothy 6:1-10 can be interpreted as stating that false doctrines lead to sexual immorality in those that preach the doctrines and those that hear them. In my opinion, false doctrines are one of the main reasons why there are all these sex scandals in the church, and evidence of correlation between devil’s doctrines and sexual immorality is present in the New Testament, in the church at Corinth in particular

So here is the text of 1 Timothy 6:1-10:

All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved Teach and preach these principles. If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 

Now I first made the correlation between sexual immorality and the prosperity doctrine after reading this passage after radio minister/teacher Bob George referenced 1 Timothy 6 in response to a question whether it was acceptable to listen to Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, and other prosperity doctrine teachers (of course George’s answer was an emphatic no) on his nationwide call in radio show. How does this relate to Jeremiah Wright? Well first of all, Wright’s liberation theology teachings are really no different from the prosperity doctrine. Both center around getting Christians to de – emphasize the promise of spiritual blessings and eternal life in favor of an emphasis of earthly things, whether wealth and health in the prosperity doctrine or seeking political changes that will result in favorable economic conditions for minorities and workers via liberation theology. Just as the extreme version of the prosperity doctrine, the Word of Faith, teaches that God has abdicated His throne with respect to the rule of creation to man, first to Adam and then to the church, the true version of liberation theology denies the actual existence of heaven and the lake of fire, claiming that they are metaphors for political, economic, and social conditions on earth. It is no small coincidence then that liberation theology thought that is so prominent among the religious left that is so influential in the Democratic Party (please remember that Bill Clinton hosted Jeremiah Wright at the White House!) in both the white left as represented by mainline Protestant denominations and liberal Roman Catholics and the black left as represented by the civil rights movement (please recall that Martin Luther King, Jr. rejectd the virgin birth, deity, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and hence cannot be considered as having been a Christian in any sense) has as its correlation the prosperity/Word of Faith doctrines in the form of figures like John Hagee, Rod Parsley, and Pat Robertson that are so influential in the Republican Party (and please recall Mike Huckabee’s attempts to bring Kenneth Copeland into the fold as well). If you want more evidence that the two parties merely represent faces on the same wicked coin that may look different but in truth are part of the same entity and joined in the middle, there you go! 

Continuing, when reading that passage more, I formed the opinion that all false doctrines, not just the prosperity doctrine, lead to immorality in general with sexual immorality being just one. As a matter of fact, associating that godliness is gain and predatory destructive unnatural sexual behavior are just symptoms of the larger spiritual, mental, and character issues that go with one having a reprobate mind.

And this brings us back to this Jeremiah Wright fellow. The fellow was already “married” to another man’s wife that he exploited and abused his position of marriage counselor to get a woman in a troubled marriage to leave her husband so that he could marry her shortly after: Jeremiah Wright’s Adulterous Marriage. This uses as source material in part BARACK’S REV. ‘STOLE A WIFE’ – EX-HUBBY: HE COUNSELED US, THEN WED HER. (Did his congregation care? Of course not.) Well now this: Jeremiah Wright committed adultery with the wife of a pastor, resulting in the dissolution of the marriage. REPORT: REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT HAS AFFAIR WITH ANOTHER MAN’S WIFE. (It would appear that this pastor was another teacher of false doctrine, and also one who uses the same trick of claiming to have degrees that he does not have. By the way, Jamal – Harrison Bryant also claimed the same phony degree from the same place, which only offers certificates from some summer training program and not doctorates, and Bryant, who is leading the charge to bring the prosperity doctrine into the same African Methodist Episcopal denomination that James Cone was a member of when he created black liberation theology – small world isn’t it – is also documented and proven to be sexually immoral. ) And guess what: Wright used the time dishonored “I will leave my wife for you” trick on his prey.

Now make no mistake, Fox News and the New York Post have an agenda. These operations are owned by the world’s biggest pornographer Rupert Murdoch whose pastor is Rick Warren (who asserts that Murdoch is a born again Christian!), who tells his church members to use sexual titillation in order to win converts (see here and here) and is not above using teen girls performing sexually suggestive dances to please his audience like Herod’s daughter did before demanding the head of John the Baptist for her mother (read Matthew 14) during “praise and worship service.” Of course, Warren’s false New Age “God wants to make you feel all good and happy” doctrines are not at all distinct from Joel Osteen’s brand of prosperity teaching. Back to Fox News and the New York Post, their agenda is to influence the upcoming presidential election. 

Me, I do not share that agenda. I could care less who you vote for. As a matter of fact, my position is that Christians should vote for NEITHER. The video in this link from Pastor Slattery illustrates why I have this position. Instead, my agenda is to tell Christians to flee these false doctrines, for they do in fact destroy people’s lives. As far as this Obama person goes in general, it really does appear that he has been recruiting as many degenerate pastors as McCain has, if not more. Here is one good site on that issue. The strait gate is not through the Democratic or Republican Party (or Green or Socialist or Communist or Constitution or Libertarian or Labour or Tory or Christian Democrats or Kadima or Likud) but through belief in and obedience to the Jesus Christ of the Bible through right belief (orthodoxy) and right behavior (orthopraxy). The sad case of Jeremiah Wright’s adultery is just one evidence among many of what happens when pastors and their followers that reject right belief in their teaching … right behavior inevitably exits as well.

Posted in Christianity, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching, religious right | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Martin Luther’s 97 Theses (The Ones That Weren’t Nailed To The Door)

Posted by Job on August 23, 2008

Everyone is familiar with Martin Luther’s 95 theses nailed to the door that started the Protestant Reformation. What is probably not as widely known is that it was Luther’s SECOND document challenging Roman Catholicism, and furthermore was not intended to start any great controversy, but was rather meant only to provoke theological debate among Luther’s peers at the University of Wittenburg. It was Luther’s FIRST document, the 97 theses, that he originally intended to use to challenge the Roman Catholic Church. However, because his original challenge dealt primarily with doctrinal and practical issues, while it was accepted among Luther’s circle at Wittenburg (who had already been heavily influenced by Luther’s preaching for several years prior, meaning that the field had been plowed), it went no further. So, the 95 theses was meant as a followup to keep the internal debate going. Now realize that the 95 theses were not nearly as theological, but was instead much more practical, speaking directly to the religious, political, economic, and social conditions of the day, and in that manner actually more closely resembled the preaching of Jesus Christ, Peter, and John the Baptist than his prior theological manifesto which is listed below.

This truly demonstrates that God works in ways that man cannot understand, predict, or comprehend. Luther’s first document that he intended to provoke a wide debate based on his deep theological insights went nowhere, much to his disappointment, and he actually may have even given up on his reform agenda. But his second document, written after he regarded his original plan to be a failure with the intent of merely stimulating a debate among his adherents and made its challenge based on the way that people worshiped and lived rather than what they believed, was what God used to change the world!

From this we can perhaps draw the lesson that while God certainly cares about and uses to change and transform us what we believe (orthodoxy) it is how we worship and live (orthopraxy) that God uses to transform others. Orthodoxy is what God sees, orthopraxy is what the Holy Spirit causes other people, especially non – Christians that God has elected to salvation, respond to.

As a side note, certain people misappropriated Luther’s movement and used it to cause a great deal of trouble, including violent uprisings. (Among them were people who called themselves prophets and declared that they no longer needed scripture because they received direct revelation from God.) Naturally, this caused problems for Luther, as the Roman Catholics sought to blame him for the trouble. Prior to now, you had a lot of people attempting to reform Roman Catholicism from within, and their leader was regarded as Erasmus, whose primary goal above all else was to avoid dissension and conflict (a religious philosophy that owed more to Greek pagan philosophy than the teachings of Jesus Christ). Where Erasmus was originally sympathetic to Luther, he refused to commit to cast in his lot with Luther because it would have been the very sort of troublemaking that Erasmus’ religious beliefs held to be the root of all evils. In other words, Erasmus was the forerunner of modern Christians who demand that we should all strive for peace and unity no matter the differences doctrines and behavior! But when the uprisings that were blamed on Luther happened, it provoked Erasmus to take a stand against Luther, for Erasmus regarded Luther as having committed the biggest possible crime and injury against his belief system: disturbing the peace. So, Erasmus, leader of the humanist reformers of Roman Catholicism (in his day “humanism” meant “lovers of the humanities” i.e. arts, classic literature, etc.) decided that the best way to challenge Luther was to go after the doctrines of election and predestination, and in doing so wrote his own manifesto rejecting those doctrines and asserting his own belief in free will salvation. Luther’s response: Erasmus’ notion of free will had its origins in Greek pagan philosophy, the Aristotle, Plato, and Zeno that Erasmus so loved and was heavily influenced by, and not the Bible. (In defense of Erasmus, he acquired his love for Greek pagan philosophy because of his own dissatisfaction with Roman Catholic scholarship … he and the other humanists rejected many of the teachings of Rome and decided to go back to the Bible itself. Unfortunately, they decided to go back to the writings of many early western Christians also, and their writings were filled with the very influences of pagan philosophy that led to the development of Roman Catholicism to begin with. So Erasmus was willing to come part of the way out of Babylon, but not all of the way out, for he found certain parts of Babylon pleasing and useful to him. In addition to the earlier point on how God uses a Christian’s orthodoxy to transform the Christian himself but  a Christian’s orthopraxy to transform other people, the wages of being unwilling to fully abandon Babylon are also worth contemplating.)

Translated by Harold J. Grimm, taken from Luther’s 97 Theses: Disputation Against Scholastic Theology (Scholasticism) on the Contend Earnestly blog.

1. To say that Augustine exaggerates in speaking against heretics is to say that Augustine tells lies almost everywhere. This is contrary to common knowledge.
2. This is the same as permitting Pelagians1 and all heretics to triumph, indeed, the same as conceding victory to them.
3. It is the same as making sport of the authority of all doctors of theology.
4. It is therefore true that man, being a bad tree, can only will and do evil [Cf. Matt. 7:17–18].
5. It is false to state that man’s inclination is free to choose between either of two opposites. Indeed, the inclination is not free, but captive. Tiffs is said in opposition to common opinion.

6. It is false to state that the will can by nature conform to correct precept. This is said in opposition to Scotus2 and Gabriel.3
7. As a matter of fact, without the grace of God the will produces an act that is perverse and evil.
8. It does not, however, follow that the will is by nature evil, that is, essentially evil, as the Manichaeans4 maintain.
9. It is nevertheless innately and inevitably evil and corrupt.
10. One must concede that the will is not free to strive toward whatever is declared good. This in opposition to Scotus and Gabriel.
11. Nor is it able to will or not to will whatever is prescribed.
12. Nor does one contradict St. Augustine when one says that nothing is so much in the power of the will as the will itself.
13. It is absurd to conclude that erring man can love the creature above all things, therefore also God. This in opposition to Scotus and Gabriel.
14. Nor is it surprising that the will can conform to erroneous and not to correct precept.
15. Indeed, it is peculiar to it that it can only conform to erroneous and not to correct precept.
16. One ought rather to conclude: since erring man is able to love the creature it is impossible for him to love God.
17. Man is by nature unable to want God to be God. Indeed, he himself wants to be God, and does not want God to be God.
18. To love God above all things by nature is a fictitious term, a chimera, as it were. This is contrary to common teaching.
19. Nor can we apply the reasoning of Scotus concerning the brave citizen who loves his country more than himself.
20. An act of friendship is done, not according to nature, but according to prevenient grace. This in opposition to Gabriel.
21. No act is done according to nature that is not an act of concupiscence against God.
22. Every act of concupiscence against God is evil and a fornication of the spirit.
23. Nor is it true that an act of concupiscence can be set aright by the virtue of hope. This in opposition to Gabriel.
24. For hope is not contrary to charity, which seeks and desires only that which is of God.
25. Hope does not grow out of merits, but out of suffering which destroys merits. This in opposition to the opinion of many.
26. An act of friendship is not the most perfect means for accomplishing that which is in one.5 Nor is it the most perfect means for obtaining the grace of God or turning toward and approaching God.
27. But it is an act of conversion already perfected, following grace both in time and by nature.
28. If it is said of the Scripture passages, “Return to me,…and I will return to you” [Zech. 1:3.], “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” [Jas. 4:8], “Seek and you will find” [Matt. 7:7], “You will seek me and find me” [Jer. 29:13], and the like, that one is by nature, the other by grace, this is no different from asserting what the Pelagians have said.
29. The best and infallible preparation for grace and the sole disposition toward grace is the eternal election and predestination of God.
30. On the part of man, however, nothing precedes grace except indisposition and even rebellion against grace.
31. It is said with the idlest demonstrations that the predestined can be damned individually but not collectively. This in opposition to the scholastics.
32. Moreover, nothing is achieved by the following saying: Predestination is necessary by virtue of the consequence of God’s willing, but not of what actually followed, namely, that God had to elect a certain person.
33. And this is false, that doing all that one is able to do can remove the obstacles to grace. This in opposition to several authorities.
34. In brief, man by nature has neither correct precept nor good will.
35. It is not true that an invincible ignorance excuses one completely (all scholastics notwithstanding);
36. For ignorance of God and oneself and good work is always invincible to nature.
37. Nature, moreover, inwardly and necessarily glories and takes pride in every work which is apparently and outwardly good.
38. There is no moral virtue without either pride or sorrow, that is, without sin.
39. We are not masters of our actions, from beginning to end, but servants. This in opposition to the philosophers.
40. We do not become righteous by doing righteous deeds but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds. This in opposition to the philosophers.
41. Virtually the entire Ethics of Aristotle is the worst enemy of grace. This in opposition to the scholastics.
42. It is an error to maintain that Aristotle’s statement concerning happiness does not contradict Catholic doctrine. This in opposition to the doctrine on morals.
43. It is an error to say that no man can become a theologian without Aristotle. This in opposition to common opinion.
44. Indeed, no one can become a theologian unless he becomes one without Aristotle.
45. To state that a theologian who is not a logician is a monstrous heretic—this is a monstrous and heretical statement. This in opposition to common opinion.
46. In vain does one fashion a logic of faith, a substitution brought about without regard for limit and measure. This in opposition to the new dialecticians.
47. No syllogistic form is valid when applied to divine terms. This in opposition to the Cardinal.6
48. Nevertheless it does not for that reason follow that the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity contradicts syllogistic forms. This in opposition to the same new dialecticians and to the Cardinal.
49. If a syllogistic form of reasoning holds in divine matters, then the doctrine of the Trinity is demonstrable and not the object of faith.
50. Briefly, the whole Aristotle7 is to theology as darkness is to light. This in opposition to the scholastics.
51. It is very doubtful whether the Latins comprehended the correct meaning of Aristotle.
52. It would have been better for the church if Porphyry8 with his universals had not been born for the use of theologians.
53. Even the more useful definitions of Aristotle seem to beg the question.
54. For an act to be meritorious, either the presence of grace is sufficient, or its presence means nothing. This in opposition to Gabriel.
55. The grace of God is never present in such a way that it is inactive, but it is a living, active, and operative spirit; nor can it happen that through the absolute power of God an act of friendship may be present without the presence of the grace of God. This in opposition to Gabriel.
56. It is not true that God can accept man without his justifying grace. This in opposition to Ockham.9
57. It is dangerous to say that the law commands that an act of obeying the commandment be done in the grace of God. This in opposition to the Cardinal and Gabriel.
58. From this it would follow that “to have the grace of God” is actually a new demand going beyond the law.
59. It would also follow that fulfilling the law can take place without the grace of God.
60. Likewise it follows that the grace of God would be more hateful than the law itself.
61. It does not follow that the law should be complied with and fulfilled in the grace of God. This in opposition to Gabriel.
62. And that therefore he who is outside the grace of God sins incessantly, even when he does not kill, commit adultery, or become angry.
63. But it follows that he sins because he does not spiritually fulfill the law.
64. Spiritually that person does not kill, does not do evil, does not become enraged when he neither becomes angry nor lusts.
65. Outside the grace of God it is indeed impossible not to become angry or lust, so that not even in grace is it possible to fulfill the law perfectly.
66. It is the righteousness of the hypocrite actually and outwardly not to kill, do evil, etc.
67. It is by the grace of God that one does not lust or become enraged.
68. Therefore it is impossible to fulfill the law in any way without the grace of God.
69. As a matter of fact, it is more accurate to say that the law is destroyed by nature without the grace of God.
70. A good law will of necessity be bad for the natural will.
71. Law and will are two implacable foes without the grace of God.
72. What the law wants, the will never wants, unless it pretends to want it out of fear or love.
73. The law, as taskmaster of the will, will not be overcome except by the “child, who has been born to us” [Isa. 9:6].
74. The law makes sin abound because it irritates and repels the will [Rom. 7:13].
75. The grace of God, however, makes justice abound through Jesus Christ because it causes one to be pleased with the law.
76. Every deed of the law without the grace of God appears good outwardly, but inwardly it is sin. This in opposition to the scholastics.
77. The will is always averse to, and the hands inclined toward, the law of the Lord without the grace of God.
78. The will which is inclined toward the law without the grace of God is so inclined by reason of its own advantage.
79. Condemned are all those who do the works of the law.
80. Blessed are all those who do the works of the grace of God.
81. Chapter Falsas concerning penance, dist. 5, 10 confirms the fact that works outside the realm of grace are not good, if this is not understood falsely.
82. Not only are the religious ceremonials not the good law and the precepts in which one does not live (in opposition to many teachers);
83. But even the Decalogue itself and all that can be taught and prescribed inwardly and outwardly is not good law either.
84. The good law and that in which one lives is the love of God, spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
85. Anyone’s will would prefer, if it were possible, that there would be no law and to be entirely free.
86. Anyone’s will hates it that the law should be imposed upon it; if, however, the will desires imposition of the law it does so out of love of self.
87. Since the law is good, the will, which is hostile to it, cannot be good.
88. And from this it is clear that everyone’s natural will is iniquitous and bad.
89. Grace as a mediator is necessary to reconcile the law with the will.
90. The grace of God is given for the purpose of directing the will, lest it err even in loving God. In opposition to Gabriel.
91. It is not given so that good deeds might be induced more frequently and readily, but because without it no act of love is performed. In opposition to Gabriel.
92. It cannot be denied that love is superfluous if man is by nature able to do an act of friendship. In opposition to Gabriel.
93. There is a kind of subtle evil in the argument that an act is at the same time the fruit and the use of the fruit. In opposition to Ockham, the Cardinal, Gabriel.
94. This holds true also of the saying that the love of God may continue alongside an intense love of the creature.
95. To love God is at the same time to hate oneself and to know nothing but God.
96. We must make our will conform in every respect to the will of God (in opposition to the Cardinal);
97. So that we not only will what God wills, but also ought to will whatever God wills.
In these statements we wanted to say and believe we have said nothing that is not in agreement with the Catholic church and the teachers of the church.
1517

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

Christianity: Rationalism versus Mysticism

Posted by Job on July 15, 2008

Rationalism and Mysticism

by Kevin T. Bauder at 12:00 am July 15, 2008. 122 views. Filed under: In The Nick of Time, Theology
Christian theology moves between two poles. On the one hand, it is impelled by the desire to understand God. Understanding implies explanation, and explanation is essentially a matter of giving reasons. This impulse leads us to ask why God is or does thus or so. If we cannot find clear reasons, then we at least seek for careful definitions. We may not be able to say why God is Triune, but we at least attempt to formulate as precisely as we can what the Trinity means. This theological pole could be called the rational impulse in theology.

At the other pole, theologians constantly bump up against the recognition that God is wholly other. They quickly learn that the predicates that we apply to God cannot be used univocally. Even so basic an assertion as “God exists” has to mean something different than the assertion that “we exist,” for God’s being is underived. He alone is self-existent—His being is different than our being.

Faced with the limitations of human understanding and human language, theologians sometimes despair of any rational knowledge of God. For them, theology becomes purely a matter of negation. They cannot meaningfully say what God is. They can only say what He is not. Rational knowledge of God is impossible.

In the place of rational knowledge, these theologians insert personal knowledge. On their understanding, God can be known directly and personally through His communion with the soul. What the soul learns of God in this encounter can never be verbalized, but it is real knowledge. This pole represents the mystical impulse in theology.

Both mysticism and rationalism can move into dangerous territory. Unbridled rationalism may sever itself from the text of Scripture, defining God’s person and works according to speculative philosophical categories. In its eagerness to explain why God is this or does that, it may actually produce a kind of divine determinism in which the very freedom of God is denied. After all, a comprehensive explanation of why God does a thing is only a small step removed from an assertion that God had to do that thing.

Other rationalists, eager to defend God’s freedom, end up denying His nature. After all, if God is bound by His nature, then He does not make truly free choices. As Ockham argued, Christ could have become incarnate as a rock, a tree, or an ass. That He chose to become a man was His voluntary choice, or else He was not free when He made it.

Mysticism may also sever itself from the biblical text. If the true knowledge of God is ineffable and indefinable, then Scripture serves only as a sort of on-ramp to the highway of mystical experience, but it is not itself a revelation of God. The Bible is ultimately unnecessary.

Of course, purely negative theology ultimately contradicts itself. Theologians who say that they cannot know anything about God are actually asserting that they do know at least one thing about God, namely, His unknowability. If these theologians are right, then they necessarily have to be wrong.

The alternative to both pure rationalism and pure mysticism is Biblicism. Biblicists may be rational in that they intend to define and explain God’s character and deeds. They may also be mystical insofar as they seek personal communion with God. Biblicists, however, begin with Scripture. They see in biblical revelation a sole and sufficient source of authority for their knowledge of God.

Biblicists do exercise their rational capacities. They discover much reasoning within the text of Scripture itself. Furthermore, they seek to draw sound inferences from explicitly biblical teachings. For Biblicists, the mind is in full play.

Biblicists also respond to the mystical impulse, for at their best they desire personal communion with God. This communion, however, is enabled by and mediated through the text of Scripture. The God with whom they commune is not one whom they find by examining their own souls. He is one who lives and breathes within the pages of Holy Writ.

Left to themselves, both rationalism and mysticism push toward dangerous extremes. While each points up the problem with the other, they cannot be used to balance each other out. Only a proper Biblicism can do that.

For a committed Biblicist both the rational and the mystical impulse can be satisfied. The genuine Biblicist will place both the mind and the heart in play all the time. Biblicists can give full rein to the desire to define and explain, while at the same time giving full rein to the yearning to know God personally. Only within Biblicism do these two impulses not contradict each other.

Biblicists rightly recoil from the extremes to which rationalism and mysticism can lead. Fear of the extremes may tempt them to stifle the mind, the heart, or both. If they are genuine Biblicists, however, this fear is unwarranted. Biblicism itself is what keeps both reason and mystical communion within their proper spheres. Loyalty to Scripture will restrain, discipline, and inform both impulses.

My Sins, My Saviour!

John S. B. Monsell (1811-1875)

My sins, my sins, my Saviour!
They take such hold on me,
I am not able to look up,
Save only, Christ, on Thee;
In Thee is all forgiveness,
In Thee abundant grace,
My shadow and my sunshine
The brightness of Thy face.

My sins, my sins, my Saviour!
How sad on Thee they fall;
Seen through Thy gentle patience,
I ten-fold feel them all;
I know they are forgiven,
But still, their pain to me
Is all the grief and anguish
They laid, my Lord, on Thee.

My sins, my sins, my Saviour!
Their guilt I never knew
Till with Thee in the desert
I near Thy passion drew;
Till with Thee in the garden
I heard Thy pleading pray’r,
And saw the sweat-drops bloody
That told Thy sorrow there.

Therefore my songs, my Saviour,
E’en in this time of woe,
Shall tell of all Thy goodness
To suffering man below;
Thy goodness and Thy favor,
Whose presence from above
Rejoice those hearts, my Saviour,
That live in Thee alone.
Kevin BauderThis essay is by Dr. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). Not every professor, student, or alumnus of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: