Category Archives: The American Christian Church
The Search for Religious Relevance (or How I Missed my First Anniversary)
Written by Nick B. Steves
In May of 1990, I was away from my wife on the first anniversary of our marriage. I had, or so it seemed at the time, more important things to do. A group of “leading men” from our little country church were traveling to Barrington, Illinois for a church growth conference at Willow Creek Community Church, which had been founded 15 years earlier by Bill Hybels. La Wik hints at the psychological roots of Willow Creek’s founding:
After 300 youth waited in line to be led to Christ in a service in May 1974, Hybels and other leaders began dreaming of forming a new church. They surveyed the community to find out why people weren’t coming to church. Common answers included: “church is boring”, “they’re always asking for money”, or “I don’t like being preached down to.” These answers shaped the group’s approach to the new church.
If you want to sell more product, then giving your customers what they want is bound to be a successful strategy. And if you’re selling Jesus, why let accidental aspects of Christianity get in the way of his essence? Our small, introverted, and pietistic Bible Fellowship church was about to undergo a massive transformation in the direction of seeker sensitivity. Twenty-four years later, the results of this transformation live on in one of the most hip and relevant churches Lynchburg, Virginia has to offer. And in the evangelical Mecca of Lynchburg, home of Liberty University, becoming that is no small achievement.
A Brief History
The search for relevance did not begin in 1974 with Bill Hybels and his fellow “youth group” leaders. Evangelical Christianity has never not been a search for relevance—a way of taking the Gospel message of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, uncluttered by cultural baggage, directly to the people—often anti-intellectual, embarrassing, and decidedly unprogressive cultural baggage. There is a reason that the 95-year-old Billy Graham, confidant of many Presidents, remains one of most admired, well-respected figures down to this day, whereas the name “Bob Jones” is an epithet: He never let political controversy get in the way of the message of Jesus. Graham was an anti-communist when it was popular to be one, and he was a social justice warrior when it was popular to be one.
Another way to put that would be: Billy Graham never let the message of Jesus get in the way of political controversy. And if getting folks to “accept Jesus into their heart as personal Lord and Savior” really is tantamount to the Great Commission—Jesus final command to his disciples to go and teach all nations—then there’s not a thing in the world wrong with it: Jesus… with no strings, no Church, no culture, no normative practice attached.
Religion has been historically a cultural anchor. Yet the Evangelical form of Christianity denies this. Not really so much denies it, as it deems cultural anchorage as unimportant relative to the weight of carrying out the Great Commission. In simplifying the Gospel Message down to a core of propositions to believe, in making the process of conversion as simple as responding to an altar call and praying the Sinner’s Prayer “Just give me Jesus” is a profoundly invigorating principle for church growth. It is immediately and almost infinitely adaptable. If “Christian Rap” is going to fill the pews, so you can give them Jesus, why should some old fuddy-duddies stand in the way? If pews are too old-school, why not “do church” in a comfy movie theater instead?
The formula works. America is among the most “church-going” first world nations, and it leads the first world in moral and cultural bankruptcy.
About that cultural anchor…
Evangelicals and Mindedness
As Mark Knoll noted almost 20 years ago, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Knoll was wondering why Evangelicals contribute so little to intellectual scholarship and high culture and how his Evangelical brethren might turn that trend around.
I think the problem goes deeper than Mark Knoll wished to probe: There really isn’t much of a single, univocal Evangelical Mind. It isn’t that Evangelicals are stupid. It is that their system of religious thought doesn’t lead to many broader cultural implications. What clear implications does “leading people to accept Jesus into their heart and pray the sinners prayer” have upon the role of women in society? Upon traditional family structure? Upon free trade? College education? Suburban sprawl? Media Influence? Foreign Aid? Immigration? Support for Israel? Revolution in the Ukraine? The Role of Religion in Public Life?
“Just give me Jesus” is quite indifferent to all of those… “Just give me Jesus” doesn’t even very much care about what type of church you go to… so long as you go… to one that feels right… to you.
So the endless search for religious relevance in America has led to a prevailing religious expression described in 2005 by sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism—a form of Christianity so devoid of normative content as to be indistinguishable from baptized narcissism.
Oprah Winfrey didn’t become a billionaire by building railroads or cornering the market on crude oil. And Bill Hybels and the host of mega-church pastors like him didn’t build their massive ministries by anchoring the Christian faith in traditional culture.
America is “deeply religious,” yet on-demand abortion and gay “marriage” are the (presumptively settled) Law of the Land. America fills her pews like no other nation on earth, yet the Overton Window glides ever leftward. And lest anyone think I’m picking only on Evangelicals, please understand that this tendency to strip the gospel message down to make it palatable for the broader culture has thoroughly infected the entire social order. Even non-religions like my local public radio station are getting in on the act. Making a message culturally relevant—whether that message be about Jesus or democracy or condom-use or toleration of sexual minorities—has become indistinguishable from plain old American cultural hegemony.
In spite of Evangelicalism’s low-brow status, we’re all Evangelicals now.
So how about that cultural anchor?
Let’s unwind this. That seeker-sensitive church growth ideas work is undeniable… for some values of “work”. But is that the work that Jesus intended the Church “Christian Community” to do when he gave the great commission? Or does “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” mean more than kneeling to pray the Sinners’ Prayer under the maudlin strains of Just As I Am? What is it exactly that we are to “teach all nations”: Be nice and feel good about ourselves?
How Things are Supposed to Work
The 800 pound (363 kg) gorilla in the room is that Christianity is supposed to affect the culture. Christianity admixes with genetics and environment and other memetic residues to produce certain kinds of culture. Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism produce different kinds. Everyone expects this. And what kind of culture is American Christianity producing today? One in which “Gay Marriage” can go from a funny joke to a self-evident sacred right in less than a generation. An entire generation of “Youth Pastors” is quite busy making Jesus look incredibly cool and could not be reached for comment.
Forgive me, but I don’t think that’s how Christianity is supposed to work for meaningful definitions of “work”. Well, why the hell not? The first reason is theological: Go ye therefore and teach all nations presumes a position of cultural superiority. Christianity is not just a propositional gloss that can be painted over an extant, formerly pagan culture, leaving it unchanged (except that now they’ll get to go to Heaven when they die). Certainly Christianity can add local customs to its own nature (cf. pagan winter solstice and spring equinox customs), but it cannot water down its universal call to repentance and holiness and kinship within the Church.
When it does, it ceases to be authentic Christianity. The relevance-minded Christians who imagine Jesus’ Great Commission as being about just getting people to pray certain prayers therefore sell the real gospel short. Conversion is a lifelong result of a lifelong commitment to a lifelong process. The signs of true spiritual conversion may be seen far more clearly in the reduction of various social pathologies than in the number of hands raised “with every head bowed and every eye closed”. Faith without works is dead.
The second reason I believe that Christianity drives culture is historical. Christianity came and changed the course of empires. Kings and princes and emperors once depended upon the Christian Church for their legitimacy. In return for the favor, secular rulers enforced Christian norms in their domains. For example, when the faith spread to England, cousin marriage soon died out and that nation experienced dramatic growth in well-being and collective power. Christianity played a crucial role in establishing science, the university system, modern economic and legal practices—virtually everything we associate with Christendom.
The End Whenever Christians try to make their religion hip and relevant to the wider culture, it reveals instantly a wider culture that wears the pants in the relationship. Christianity adopts the role of the supplicating special pleader. It is not a masculine Christianity. It reduces religious practice to a source of entertainment or therapy–at most a curiosity to place alongside all the accouterments of a life otherwise untouched by its life-giving, culture-bestowing essence. You might get attendance figures or increased donations, but you’ll never get a transformed culture. You’ve already given that up as unnecessary cultural baggage.
So the question really never was how to make religion relevant to culture, but how to make culture relevant to religion. If people cannot make themselves relevant to religion, then the problem lies with them… and, by the way, they know it. Whosoever is the coolest doesn’t need to qualify himself to others. If you are tempted to attend a church growth conference that conflicts with your first wedding anniversary, just say “No”. Please stay home and cherish the company of your wife instead.
By: T.L. Davis
This is just another in a long line of needless lawsuits arising out of an unjust and unconstitutional law, affectionately called Obamacare by Barack Obama, or otherwise given the ironic title of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which accomplishes neither patient protection, nor affordable care.
The Constitutional questions are not questions at all. There is no more clear wording in the Bill of Rights than: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” There simply is no more clear admonition than “Congress shall make no law…” What part of “no” is vague? What part of “congress” is vague? What part of “law” is vague? What part of “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is vague?
Very clearly, if Congress makes a law, drafts a law or passes a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion, i.e. requires that Christians, in order to obey such law, must violate their religious beliefs against abortion by funding that activity, providing that activity through any means, which violates their admonition from God in the Ten Commandments not to kill, is not unconstitutional, then words mean nothing.
Unfortunately, we have seen all too often that when it comes to federal government power, the federal Supreme Court, has found in favor of the government and against the citizen. It is hostile to religion. It is hostile to liberty.
If it is found that Hobby Lobby is forced to violate their freedom of religion, it is the intent of David Green to close its doors. Realistically, they will probably sell their assets to some other large retailer and the stores will stay open under another name. Christian values, however, will be largely diminished.
There are a long list of reasons Obamacare should have been ruled unconstitutional, not just for the violation of religious freedoms inherent in its language, but the violations of individual liberty wherein a mandate requiring the people to purchase anything, including medical coverage, is a violation of the Constitution.
Finding Obamacare constitutional is an example of how the Supreme Court is acting illegally by failing to uphold the Constitution. It is why every judgment made by this Supreme Court is an affront to justice. Allowing any nine people in the nation to encumber the entire population with unwanted, unwarranted violations of liberty is political malpractice. It changes the very fundamentals of a republican form of government and arrives at a system much more akin to an oligarchy.
Christians must fight back against these abuses of government. They are now involved in the fight and while many Christians find it unpalatable to engage in politics, politics have engaged them. To honor God is not to forfeit His will to bureaucrats because of sloth and a refusal to take up Christ’s defense in the public square. It is the duty of Christians to empty the churches and fill the streets.
Topsy turvey world, ain’t it?
Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the West, including the United States, for eschewing Christian values and opting instead for a “path to degradation.”
In his State of the Nation speech last month, Putin asserted that, “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values… Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan.” Russia has adopted new laws that ban homosexual propaganda and criminalizes the insulting of religious sensibilities.
The law on religious sensibilities was approved in the wake of a protest in Moscow’s largest cathedral by a female punk rock group, Pussy Riot. State-run television said the group’s “demonic” protest was funded by “some Americans.” Russia’s newfound embrace of traditional values has prompted a rise in Orthodox vigilantism. Extreme groups such as the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers, an ultraconservative faction who adopted a slogan “Orthodoxy or Death,” are gaining prominence.
It was not that long ago that the United States was accusing Russia for being a “godless nation.”
From WZ: http://weaselzippers.us/
From Mad Medic
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
Embrace the right way. P. AsheDina, TMJ C. 2013
My mother has been waking up feeling ‘doom & gloom.’ My mom does not get this type of feeling too much. I do. Since I was young, I could see things ahead of time: see bad things coming, see good things coming. It’s a gift I believe I have had since I turned my eyes to God in 1987. Almost just about everything that God showed me has come to pass, or I am waiting for it to come to pass. Through thick and thin, bad and good, God has never failed me. I have failed many times. But, God has not ever failed me. As I ponder on my mother’s fear lately, I have to take heed to her and prepare more than ever. Get more food & dry goods. More ammunition for hunting, or even having to protect my home. Protect my small family of my husband and our German Shepard.
QV says that we should all get out of dodge.. Well, in a way he is right. But, that is easier said than done. Plus, I believe we are in the end of the ages. I believe the whole world will be enveloped in evil. The only way ‘out’ is to turn to God because we will ALL see death–that is inevitable. So, why just leave? Pretty soon, it will be an all out war of evil vs. good. God vs Satan, the Devil. We know who wins: GOD.
While we all believe in the same God, HaShem (Jews call God, HaShem), Jehovah, YahVeh, El Shaddhi, King of all Kings. Jesus (Christians believe Jesus is the son of God or equal to God)–We may not all have the same religion and that is OK, as long as we all embrace the same creator of the Torah & the world. I like both spiritual Judaism, true Christianity and I also love many Buddhist teachings..I don’t really embrace ‘religion.’ Bottom line is to put our trust in the unseen, but ever present GOD. Now is the hour also – for non religious patriots to join together with us (or vc versa) and at least give our pleas to God, maker of ALL things.
From MJ: http://themadjewess.com/
Why Jews and Blacks Are Not the Enemy
I’M sure many of you have begun to enjoy the incisive and pithy observations of Robert S. Oculus III in The White Book. Do you feel as if you’ve read this book before? That’s the way good books are. They draw forth and organize half-formed thoughts. They are mental cleaning services (the ultimate housewifely compliment), dusting, clearing away cobwebs, mopping floors, and putting everything back in order, maybe in a way they were never in order before.
Here is another excerpt. It’s from the section called The Real Enemy in Chapter I :
Do you ever get sick of hearing Jews on TV blaming you for anti-Semitism? Do you ever get tired of seeing some black guy on TV blaming you for his people’s problems? You do?
Physician, heal thyself. If you blame the problems of the white race on “the blacks” or “the Jews”, you are doing the same thing they do: avoiding responsibility for your own problems. Just as the Jews and the blacks and every other racial group are responsible for their peoples’ failings, we must step up and take responsibility for our own.
The Jews are not the enemy. Jews don’t make us watch filthy movies or moronic TV shows. Jews don’t make us divorce our spouses or abort our children or contracept our future into non-existence. Jews don’t take the money out of our pockets and make us buy crap we don’t need. No, we do all those things with our own little powder-white paws – and then when it all blows up in our faces we point the finger at the Jews. As if we don’t have free will! As if our Lord and His every saint haven’t warned us of the wages of sin!
Friends, when I say we have to See the truth in order to survive I don’t just mean seeing the motes in the eyes of the dead-hearted schmucks that run this country. I don’t just mean seeing the truth about black and Jewish and liberal group behavior. I mean taking a hard, honest look in the mirror and admitting to what we See.
White, Christian America is rotten – and we let it rot. We let our standards slide. We abandoned our race, our culture, our creed, and our collective conscience. All the blacks and Jews in the world couldn’t have done this to us. We did it to ourselves.
And that’s why hatred isn’t the way to go. If we hate the Other we hate the wrong people. If we hate ourselves we have no future.
And that’s why becoming a skinhead, a Klansman, or a Nazi hurts instead of helps. Ordinary, next-door-neighbor-type white people cannot relate to, and will not associate with, hateful people. Everyday white people can detect the sour smell of burning crosses and jackboot polish a mile away, and if they smell it on you any chance you might have had to open their eyes will disappear. How does that help white people? If you go the Jew-hating route, the black-hating route, your days of being taken seriously by other white people are at an end – and with them any good you might do for the cause of White survival.
I repeat: Hatred is not the answer. Hatred is negative and cannot serve as the basis for the revival of the white and Christian civilization we want. Only love, love of our own kind, can be a firm foundation for our cause.
We must learn to love ourselves as a people before we can make any progress. When Jewish poet Leonard Cohen says “Love’s the only engine of survival” he’s not just making the words rhyme. Hatred solves nothing, builds nothing, grows nothing good. Only love can create, construct, and grow. Only by instilling love of our own kind, rather than hatred of others, are we going to win this war.
If we are to win the War on White People, we have to awaken the everyday white person to the truth and convince them to make common cause with other whites. We have to teach them to love white people.
The solution to the black question, the Jewish question, is not hatred, and it most certainly is not persecution or violence. We will examine the answers to these questions later in this book.
But if “the Jews” and “the blacks” aren’t the Enemy, then who is?
It’s easier to define them by what they are not. The real Enemy is not the blacks, the Jews, the communists, the bankers, the Rockefeller family, the Ford Foundation, the Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Gray Aliens, or any of those other false targets set up to distract us. Members of the groups can be found among the ranks of the Enemy, true, but you must never forget that the real enemy is the power elite behind the black radicals, behind those Jews who hate and fear whites and Christians, behind the communists, behind the bankers, the Rockefeller family, the Ford Foundation, the Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Relations, and – for all we know — behind the Gray Aliens.
The real Enemy in the War on White People is the Devil himself, and the cabal of atheistic, materialist cultural Marxists given power by him to manipulate the global economy, the political systems of the world, and the news and entertainment media in order to bend reality to fit his infernal will.
This cabal, which we may call the Global Luciferian Revolution (or simply “the Revolution”), is not a monolithic conspiracy, but is rather an alliance of like-minded individuals and groups, a monster with many names and many faces, but with one purpose: to realize the promise of Lucifer – that is, to use technology and brute force to assume godlike power over existence itself, and to create by their own will a Heaven on Earth.
A full examination of the Revolution lies outside the scope of this book. The important thing to remember is that blacks and Jews and politicians and international bankers as such are not the Enemy. The Enemy is not united by DNA or culture but by an idea – the Luciferian idea.
The Luciferian idea is like a virus. It can infect the souls of people of any race or color. And those infected with it share a single goal: apotheosis. They wish to become gods, defining reality itself by their will, overthrowing God and His natural law and creating a heaven on earth in which they, the new gods, will reign supreme.
And they will have no other gods before them.
Which is why they know that white people must not be allowed to think of themselves as a group. Single men with no loyalty to anything except their own desires are animals – herd animals: easily manipulated, molded, mastered. But a man who believes himself to be part of a distinct breed, a breed apart, cannot be herded. He will resist any intimidation, any pain, for the sake of his tribe, his family, his God.
The Enemy knows this. This is why they want to create a “post-racial” world. They know that [they] must breed mankind into a single, docile, coffee-colored herd if they are to become the lords of creation. They know that as long as loyalty to anything other than the Revolution remains, they cannot reign supreme.
In order to win the war against God, the Enemy has to destroy all loyalty to nation, to family, to people. In order to win, they must smash all flags, all human bonds, and all races – first the white race, then all the others.
And when you need to smash something, you pick up a hammer.
From The Thinking Housewife: http://www.thinkinghousewife.com/wp/2013/08/why-jews-and-blacks-are-not-the-enemy/#more-58498
The Head of “Faith Based” Initiative (another name for brain-washing commie Bullshit) does not Even Believe in Religion
State Department’s New “Faith-Based” Advisor Shaun Casey: “I Am Glad American Civil Religion Is Dying”…
Shockingly, Shaun Casey was also a religion advisor to the Obama campaign in 2008.
(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State John Kerry announced Wednesday the formation of the Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, which will be headed by Shaun Casey, a former religion advisor to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and a liberal professor who last year touted the end of ‘civil religion’ in the United States.
“I, frankly, am glad American civil religion is dying,” Casey said at a discussion last year at the Center for American Progress focused on “God and Politics” in the last presidential election.
Kerry introduced Casey as a person who cares about faith in American society.
“Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate Shaun as a deeply thoughtful person who cares about the place of faith in our public life,” Kerry said.
From Weasel Zippers: http://weaselzippers.us/
2 Timothy 4:3
New Living Translation (NLT)
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
Pic from Mad Medic: http://maddmedic.wordpress.com/
Let me tell a brief story:
Smalltown, USA has three churches, which we will call Church A, Church B, and Church C. The Smiths are your average Christian family today; that is, Mr. Smith is hopelessly Beta and emasculated, Mrs. Smith is frigid and controlling, and the children are inundated with general American cultures. In other words, completely feminized without even realizing it.
Our story begins with the Smiths attending Church A, where they regularly tithe and Mrs. Smith contributes time at various Ministries. However, one day the pastor of Church A reads from Ephesians 5, and mentions how wives should be subject to their husbands. This naturally doesn’t sit well with Mrs. Smith, who complains about this and demands to her husband that they switch churches. Mr. Smith, being either thoroughly feminized or afraid of upsetting his wife, agrees, and they begin to attend services at Church B. There are other families like the Smiths at Church A, and they too switch over to Church B. Church A loses a lot of members, and a lot of money, and becomes a shell of what it once was.
The pastor at Church B is initially pleased by all of the new members at his Church, as they fill both the pews and collection plates alike. His pleasure is short lived, however, when he realizes the reasons why all of these new members have begun to attend his Church. He comes to understand that if the subject of Ephesians 5 and wifely submission, or something like it, comes up in church he will be forced to either support the biblical command and risk losing membership, or toss out parts of scripture in order to keep his pews and coffers full. Not wanting to lose members, but also not wanting to jettison scripture, he decides to play the role of King Solomon and split the baby by simply ignoring the parts of scripture which his members oppose. This works, for a while. But eventually the subject comes up at a bible study group, and the issue begins to percolate through Church B. The pastor of Church B is forced to address the issue, and after hemming and hawing for a bit, comes out supporting the scriptural command. The Smiths are incensed, and promptly leave for Church C. Others join them in the exodus, and just like Church A before it, Church B finds itself smaller and poorer.
Over at Church C the pastor is ecstatic, his pews don’t have room for all of the people, but fortunately the collection plates provide money enough for growth. So Church C begins a massive expansion project to accommodate all of the new members. The pastor at Church C is no one’s fool, he knows why this sudden influx has occurred. He knows what happened at Church A and Church B, and understands that if he preaches scripture truthfully that he will lose all of these new members, and some of the older members as well. On the other hand, if he rejects scripture completely, then he risks losing some old members who see Church C as a “biblically oriented church.” So he too plays the role of King Solomon, and splits the baby by reinterpreting scripture, replacing wifely submission with “mutual submission.” To the pleasure of the pastor at Church C, this seems to work; the new members are content with the message and because it appears to be wrapped in biblical piety the old members of Church C don’t leave. Whenever a difficult issue that might cause a split in the church emerges, the pastor at Church simply reinterpreted scripture to make it more comfortable to the members of his church. Before long Church C was hugely successful, easily the largest and wealthiest church in town, and perhaps even the region. Plans were soon made for an expansion church in a nearby town.
The moral of the story
The story above was an example of Church Shopping, wherein people will shop around for a church that they feel comfortable at. In this day and age, one where feminism is largely running rampant even among “conservatives,” biblical commands tend to make most people uncomfortable. Most Christians are no longer “in the world”, but instead are “of the world.” The end result is much like the story above. So what is the moral of the story? Simple: the ability of “Christians” to church shop creates a natural pressure amongst churches to race to the bottom, to the lowest common denominator, and adopt beliefs which don’t conflict with the worldly views of members or potential members. This pressure is always present, because membership means prestige, power and money. If one church doesn’t adapt, then another will, and will benefit from it, while the other suffers. In order to compete, in order to survive long term, a church must adapt. Of course, adapt in this case means to try and ditch as many of those pesky scriptural commands as possible.
There are really two related but different lessons to be learned here:
1) First, those churches out there right now which are the most successful, that is, have the most members and the most money, are almost certainly those churches which have catered to the worldly whims of their members. They have adapted to an environment where everyone, Christian or otherwise, has been feminized. So naturally the biggest churches will be the most feminized, because their success largely is owed to their ability to cater to their potential audience.
2) Second, the current rise of “Churchianity” is the inevitable result of the fracturing of the Church. Christianity involves hard truths and difficult messages, the kind of truths that people don’t want to hear and don’t like hearing. Our natural human tendency is to take the easiest path, not the hardest one. So if people are given a choice between a church that preaches hard and difficult truths, and one that soft-balls the message and tries to make people comfortable, it is the latter church that most people will choose to attend. This pressure has always been present in Christianity, but its effects are the strongest now that the Church has splintered among so many different factions, and because we have advanced transportation and telecommunication technology. It is hardly a challenge to find a comfortable church, and traveling 30 miles to one that you like isn’t a burden nowadays. So it should come as no surprise that we are seeing “Churchianity” develop before us; the impulse was always there but it can manifest more easily now.
This post is not meant to create a inter-denominational fight. Rather, it is meant to point out that Christian disunity is dangerous, and weakens the whole of the Church far more than people realize. “Churchianity” is not merely some modern contrivance that resulted from the emergence of feminism. Instead, Churchianity is a natural and logical outgrowth of Christianity when there is no longer a single scriptural authority for the Church.
Update: In the comments A Northern Observer reminds us that Paul warned about this tendency long ago:
This is an ongoing problem since Christ’s time – as the letter to Timothy attests:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Ti 4:2–5
In other words, they turned the chapel into a mosque.
Via Campus Reform:
University of Chicago (UC) administrators permanently removed pews from an 88-year old chapel on campus in order to accommodate Islamic prayers, according to a local news report.
Chicago NPR affiliate, WBEZ news, reported on May 23, the pews, which are now part of display at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, were “removed in order to provide Muslim students a place to pray.”
Literature describing the artwork that was created by UC Director of Arts and Public Life Theaster Gates, also describes the removal of the pews as symbol of religious tolerance.
“The pews were recently removed from the chapel in order to offer Muslim students a place to pray, a symbolic gesture of religious tolerance,” according to an official description of the exhibit which includes a “set of repurposed pews from the University of Chicago’s campus church.”
From Weasel Zippers: http://weaselzippers.us/
From Mad Medic
Over the past year, I have grown to enjoy reading blogs. It has shown me that I am not alone at where I am in life. Reading some of them is encouraging, convicting, and edifying. Some of them also help me to understand where other people are coming from in their views as well, whether it be about the Bible, Christianity, marriage, or some controversial topic. They helps me to understand why people think the way they do, even if they are wrong. One of the reasons why I think some people blog is because there may not be anyone around them that will respect them enough to listen to them. Blogging gives them the opportunity to discuss their views without someone close to them condemning them for doing so. Reading blogs gives us the opportunity to know why atheists have a problem with a deity, what is going on in the mind of someone with a different view of the Bible, or why people hate church. We can then come and discuss it with them at their level instead of just making sure they know “their wrong and we’re right”. How far will that attitude get you?
Around the blogging world (aka the blogosphere), there is a genre of what is considered “red pill”. The “red pill” is a term derived from the movie “The Matrix” to refer to having one’s eyes opened to things that are not commonly seen. In the movie, a character is offered a red pill that will change his life or a blue pill that will make him forget any changes and go with the flow of others. (To those who are “red pill” or are familiar with the movie, forgive me if I am misrepresenting the movie. I still haven’t watched it. I have just seen clips and other blogs referring to it.) I have dealt with swallowing the “red pill” myself in this post.
I hope I am not going out on a limb by posting this because many “red pill” blogs have to do with relating to women, marriage, and alpha and beta traits, both secular and Christian. However, of the Christian ones, many of the topics discussed point out how the Bible is being either horribly distorted or totally neglected by many in Christianity. I appreciate many of their posts. It has helped me to see the questions that I have asked are ones that others ask too. I am not necessarily here to speak specifically about any “flavor” of the “red pill” such as feminism, marriage, PUA, Game, MRM, or the like. In this post, I want to broaden the reach of the Christian “red pill”. The Christian red pill is not anything special. All it is about is taking the Bible for what it’s worth at face value. It’s about taking all of what God says, not only the parts you like, and counting it as truth and seeking to please God by doing it, even if it goes against the “Christian” norm.
For me, I think I accidentally swallowed the “Red Pill”. From what I’ve read, that seems like this happens to many people. God has a way of getting our attention when we’re to dumb to realize things ourselves. (Again, click the link above to read my “red pill” story.)
The “red pill” goes down hard, tastes horrible, and has serious side effects. You are just living life and BOOM! …questions arise. You get answers to those questions that don’t make sense and it makes you question things even more. You wonder where in the Bible what is said came from. But what is said is just the way it is. Everyone seems to think it as well. It’s just tradition. Then you hear that Pastor so-and-so said “this” or a Christian book or radio program said “that”. Where did they get THAT from? Suddenly, you start fighting with yourself on what is true or not. Who is right? You realize God is. His Word is truth whether other Christians want to follow it or not.
The “red pill” is really nothing new, either. Many, many people through the ages have taken the pill. Some of the more famous ones are ingrained into Christian history. Martin Luther took the “red pill” and questioned the authority and some practices of the Roman Catholic Church with what the Scriptures taught, only to be condemned because of it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not sway with the Church toward Hitler’s Nazi Regime and stood his ground at the cost of his life at the age of 39. John Hus was burned at the stake for speaking against the Roman Catholic Church in his time. William Tyndale was burned alive for translating the Bible into common English. John Wycliffe was deemed a heretic for his Bible-based views prior to the reformation. He died of natural causes, but his body was dug up a burned afterwards. Charles Spurgeon, a London pastor in the 1800′s, stood strong in the midst of the “downgrade controversy” when, even among Christians, the Bible was being questioned if it was the sole authority. Ultimately, Jesus, the Maker of the “red pill”, stood up against the religious authority of His day who made their own rules instead of following God’s Word.
You see, the Christian “red pill” is nothing new. It is believing EVERYTHING God says in the His Word whether it sounds good or not, even if other “Christians” think otherwise. It means not throwing in psychology or philosophy along with the Bible. It means doing what God says even if it’s not the cultural norm. It means dying to yourself and the world around you. The Christian “red pill” simply means believing and doing what God says. Hey, isn’t that what Jesus tells us to do anyway?
Yet, in the United States, our culture wants things our own way. Don’t like what the preacher says? Go to the church down the street. You can watch preachers on TV that will tell you how to get what you want and get your best life. They can tell you God thinks your awesome, wonderful, and that you’re the greatest thing ever. Okay, before I go into a sarcastic seizure, I’ll move on.
You know those crazy medication commercials you see on TV or hear on the radio? You know, the ones that say you can be free of some pain or other issue at the risk of side effects that includes dry mouth, constipation, internal bleeding, or infection that can lead to death. If someone would make a video “commercial” about the Christian “red pill”, that would be an awesome thing to watch. I would advertise the Christian “Red pill” something like this: (Of course, I’d need to make it way more concise.)
Benefits for everyone include:
- You don’t care what other people think about you, but what God thinks. You don’t worry if people hate you because your life doesn’t consist of pleasing others, but pleasing God. The world will hate you because you are not of this world. But if the world loves you, you need to check yourself. (John 17:14, 7:7, 15:18-19, 1 John 3:13) You seek to be humble. You know you are not wonderful and never were. You understand it is only by God’s grace that you are not drowning in the depths of sin. You do not boast in anything but God because you offer nothing good and He gives everything good. You do not boast in any of your own accomplishments, but in what God has accomplished. (2 Corinthians 10:17, Romans 12:3) – You remember where you came from. You know who you were before Christ and know you would still be there, or worse, without Him. Therefore, you also treat other “sinners”, even homosexuals, like actual human beings. If it weren’t for Christ, you’d be going to the same Hell for your own disobedience to God. – You understand that political leaders are chosen by God. Therefore, you can spend more time preaching the gospel that can change hearts and lives instead of preaching about political issues. Changing people’s minds about abortion, civil rights, or homosexuality will not make them a follower of Christ, but God changing their hearts through the gospel will. (Daniel 4:35, Romans 13:1, Daniel 4:25) – You take responsibility for your own sins. It is not so-and-so’s fault that you did this or that. If you did it, it’s your own fault and you will be held accountable for it. Deal with it. (2nd Corinthians 5:9-11) – Yet, you also understand that your actions or words can have an effect of others. They may be tempted to sin because of something you said or did. You know you can put a stumbling block in front of another brother or sister. (1 Corinthians 8:9-11) – You understand that everybody have different gifts and different issues they struggle with than you do. You can encourage others that are going through things that you are strong in and get help for things you are weak in. You also do not look down and judge those that are weaker than you in certain areas. You understand that without God’s grace, you can be in that same position. (1 Corinthians 12:4-27) – You understand there is a difference between “church” and the “Church” If you are a true follower of Christ, you are part of the “Body of Christ” or community of Christians from around the world that spans throughout history that doesn’t involve denominations. You seek to help, build up, challenge, encourage, strengthen, and be like-minded with those in the Body. You understand that not everyone in the Body is just like you. God has given to each one different talents and gifts. Each one is either stronger or weaker in faith than you. But the Body seeks to work together to glorify God, the one who bought it. Lastly, your Christian walk does not consist of being in a building for a few hours a week and only becoming a clique with a few people and forsaking the rest of the Body. – You understand that the Gospel is not about life-enhancement. Jesus did not come and die just to make you live a happy life. The Bible has much to say about you being a sinner and condemned already because of your sin. It speaks plainly about what you deserve and what you will receive without the atonement that comes only from Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. (If that doesn’t make sense, message or email me.) The Gospel is about becoming righteous, or having being made right in the eyes of God, despite your rebellion against Him. It’s about His glory, His salvation, and His righteousness. The only thing you bring to the table is sin. (Romans 3:9-28, Ephesians 2) – You understand that no matter how much of the red pill you swallow, you are to be humble, contrite, and a servant to all. You are not to be wise in your own opinion. You are to bear with those who are weak. You are to provide unity to the Body of Christ and not discord and division. (Romans 12:9-21)
Benefits for men: – You will man up. You will not man up as it is commonly refered to by being nice and doing what everyone tells you to do. Manning up does not mean being blamed for everyone else’s behavior, including your wife’s. You will man up by doing the things God says without excuse. God tells us we should imitate Him. God is not always nice. He is full of truth. He answers to no one. You only answer to Him. – You will seek to be a man as Christ was. You are called to follow, imitate, and be like Him. ALL OF HIM! This means not only being humble, serving, and gentle when need be, but also standing firm in God’s truth. It also means calling people out in their sin. We have seemed to forget that Jesus and Paul were sarcastic and said things that seemed cruel for the glory of God. There is a big difference in being sarcastic to rip someone apart and doing it to uphold God’s truths. (Matt 15:22-26, Galatians 5:2-12) – You will call out sin without worrying about anyone’s feelings or if they are offended. Jesus was never apologetic for being offensive because of the truth and neither should you. – You will learn to love your wife as Christ does the church. He did so by laying His life down for it, not give it everything it ever wanted. He served us by doing what was best for us. He does not ask us what He should do even when we whine and complain. (Ephesians 5:25-33, Colossians 3:19, 1 Peter 3:7) – You understand that love is not a feeling, but is an action as listed in 1st Corinthians 13. No matter how you “feel”, you are to love your wife and love others. – You also understand that God tells you to love your wife no matter what she is like or how she treats you. This does not mean you ignore her sin. It does not mean she is not responsible. It means you are to do what you are supposed to do before God. – You will learn to teach and lead your children in humility, not provoking them to be angry. – You will not apologize for being a man. God made you a man with certain talents, responsibilities, and desires. It is not a sin to be the way you are unless God’s Word tells you it’s a sin. Period. You do not let this world, culture, or even modern Christianity tell you what a man is. You learn from God’s Word.
Benefits for women: – You will woman down. You will not try to be like a man, because you are not a man. You understand that God has given men and women certain responsibilities. – You will submit to your husband as the Church does to Christ. It does so by respecting and obeying Christ. The Church does not tell Christ what He should do and then yell at Him when He doesn’t do it their way. The Church does not tell Christ how to be a better Savior. The Church does not whine and complain until it gets her way, but asks Christ for things knowing that Christ has its best interest in mind and will give it what it needs. (Ephesians 5:22-24,33, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1-6 – notice the “likewise” in verse 1? read the full context (1 Peter 2:13-3:6)) – You understand that God tells you to respect and submit to your husband no matter if you “feel” like he’s loving you or not. God’s command for you to submit to your husband is not conditional to his performance. This does not mean ignore His sin. It doesn’t mean you follow him into sin against God. It does not mean he is not responsible. It means you are to do what you are supposed to do before God. – You will not seek to have authority over men in the Church. You understand that the head of every woman is man. That is God’s design. (1 Timothy 2:8-15) – You understand you are responsible for your own behavior and sin. You will not blame men for your own irresponsible sins. (2nd Corinthians 5:9-11)
Side effects: – Other people, even Christians, will not understand you and think you’re very strange. – Christians might label you as legalistic. They may say things like: “That’s not for today”, “You’re taking it out of context”, or “Why are you so judgmental?” Yet, your motive for wanting to do what God says is not to be right before God, it is because you ARE right before God because of Christ and want to obey Him out of love. – You may lose your possessions and your family and friends may leave you. – People may get very angry with you. – People may hate you. – People may physically hurt you. – You may even lose your life.
But aren’t most of the side effects are things that God tells us will happen, anyway? Didn’t Jesus come with a sword to divide people? Didn’t he say you’d better be willing to lose everything, including your spouse and children, even your own life, to be His disciple? Didn’t He say that you’re blessed when persecuted and woe to you when people speak well of you? Don’t we have numerous examples in the Bible and through history to confirm this?
Of course, benefits of the “Red Pill” take time. Once you take the Bible more seriously than what others may tell you how to live your life, it is just a matter of time before the questions arise and the “red pill” starts its effectiveness. It is at this time that you MUST decide whether you go along for the ride in Churchianity, leave it all together, or decide that God is right and man is wrong and follow hard after God.
If you decide to follow hard after God after tasting the “red pill”, you need to realize some things. His Word, that you decide to cling to above what anyone else says, tells you to be humble and not to be wise in your own eyes. (I know I mentioned this above, but I can’t say it enough.) You are to use your gifts that God has given you to build the Body of Christ up, not to tear it apart. Above all, Pray, pray, pray and understand that we are in a spiritual battle. We do not war against each other, but against the powers of darkness.
As I said, the “red pill” is nothing more than taking Scripture for what it’s worth. Satan has, unfortunately, duped many Christians and churches into what he did to Eve…to question many things that God has said. We have divided ourselves by whether we believe the same things or not. We try to control one another instead of encouraging one another and letting God work in each others hearts. We have lost the ability to discern between truth and “kind-of” truth. Satan has bound us with many lies.
It’s time we “Christian up” and take things seriously. It’s time we stood on the Word of God alone and judge everything according to it, not trying to fit what other people say into it. It’s time we get tired of just “playing church” and start taking the Kingdom by force. It’s time we be on offense with the Word of God. It’s time to stop being a “cookie-cutter” Christian and be real.
It time we follow Christ and not other people.
From Quit Playing Church: http://quitplayingchurch.wordpress.com/
By George Neumayr on 4.3.13 @ 6:09AM
Churches will be pressured into blessing gay marriages.
The end point of liberalism is a coercive secular state in which the religious have no meaningful rights. American church leaders are kidding themselves if they think the gay-marriage juggernaut is going to stop at civil marriage. It won’t. It will quickly travel past court houses to churches, demanding that all religions bless gay marriages.
Denmark casts a shadow of this future, where the gay-marriage juggernaut has smashed through church doors. Last year the country’s parliament passed a law requiring all Lutheran churches to conduct gay marriage ceremonies. “I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married,” said Manu Sareen, Denmark’s minister for gender equality. Reluctant bishops have to supply ministers to satisfy the right whether they like it or not.
Iceland and Sweden have similar arrangements. Since many of the bishops are in the tank for gay marriage anyways and since these churches are “state” churches, this pressure generates little news. But it is instructive nonetheless. Where gay marriage exists, religious freedom gradually disappears, to the point where ministers have to choose between serving as secularism’s stooges or facing societal oblivion.
In America, this pressure will take the form of “discriminatory” churches losing government grants, permits, and participation in programs. It will be the death of religious freedom by a thousand little cuts here and there: canceled speeches of religious figures at state universities, lost HHS grants, the refusal of city governments to recognize churches that don’t permit gay marriages, “hate crime” legislation that extends to opposition to gay marriage, and so on. All of this will have the effect of pressuring churches into blessing gay marriages. A law forcing priests and ministers to preside at gay marriages won’t need to be passed; the invisible law of indirect governmental pressure will do the trick.
During last year’s campaign, Obama said that religions will remain free to determine their own “sacraments.” Shouldn’t that go without saying? The very fact that Obama made such a declaration should scare people. Whenever a pol says “I won’t do [fill in the blank],” it usually means that very activity is on his mind. While he can’t determine the sacraments for religions, Obama will try and marginalize those religions that don’t determine the sacraments in a manner he considers “nondiscriminatory.”
Obama’s “respect” for these religions is on par with his respect for the policies of the Boy Scouts. “I think that my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life,” said Obama when calling on the Boy Scouts to accept gay scoutmasters. Notice Obama’s phrase: every institution and walk of life. Surely in time that will include churches.
But for now, Obama thinks the religious should feel grateful to him that he is not busting down church doors and forcibly injecting them with contraceptives or requiring them to preside at gay weddings. That in his mind is the sum total of religious freedom. And yet even that little space can be crowded in on through laws that allow government to reward secularized religions and shun traditional ones.
The goal of the gay-marriage juggernaut is to make Christians pariahs, as irrelevant to public life as racists. It doesn’t have to pass a Denmark-style law to force churches to conduct gay marriages; it can achieve the same end through punitive political correctness.
On ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos thought it appropriate to ask Cardinal Timothy Dolan, albeit in a roundabout and implicit fashion, if Catholicism could accept gay marriage for people who feel “unwelcome” in the Church: “What do you say to a gay couple that loves God and the Church, but also love each other and want to raise a family in faith?” It would have been nice to see Dolan challenge the insidious premise of the question by saying something like: So, George, you are saying that unless the Church loves the sin it can’t love the sinner?
Instead, Dolan seemed to concede the media narrative about the Church as hateful — “We have to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. I admit, we haven’t been too good at that” — while gingerly trying to uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage. His attempt at appeasement didn’t work. Gay activists pounced on him anyways, generating headlines such as “Cardinal Dolan Demeans Gay Relationships As He Says Church Should Be More Welcoming to Gays.”
The gay-marriage juggernaut only speeds up at the sight of such gestures, seeing civil marriage as just one stop on a longer road to a secularist state in which religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular fall silent and compliant out of fear if not law.
Photo: UPI (Supporters of Illinois’ “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” Jan. 2, 2013)
From The American Spectator: http://spectator.org/archives/2013/04/03/religious-freedoms-drip-by-dri
Christians Side With Mammon. Mammon Sided with Barabbas.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
1,980 years ago tomorrow, the world put God on trial. When offered a choice, the world surrendered up God to be tortured, crucified, and killed and asked that Pontius Pilate free the criminal Barabbas instead.
There is no compromise between Christ and the world. Young evangelicals, complacent in the United States and unharassed, would do wise to remember this.
Tim Keller, a noted preacher in my denomination (Presbyterian Church in America), made news yesterday when he talked about evangelicals coming to terms with gay marriage. In particular he said that “you can believe homosexuality is a sin and still believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.”
Keller is an accurate indicator of where things are headed within evangelicalism, particularly among younger evangelicals.
Christians in America have gotten soft. We’ve turned the nation into an idol to be worshiped. We’ve become so convinced by the “shining city on a hill” rhetoric we think “It can’t happen here,” regarding persecution of Christians. Joe Carter has a great read on this.
Joe is right. We’ve turned the American ideal of liberty into an idol we worship. The religious liberty in the first amendment is meant to protect the religious as they seek to draw people to them. But the world demands instead that the first amendment be used to draw the religious to the world and silence those who refuse to go along for the ride. In making an idol of our democratic freedom, the irony is that many evangelicals in America are abdicating the use of it.
What Christians in the United States of America, who’ve had it pretty easy for a long time in the USA, have forgotten or never learned is that the world is deeply hostile to the things, and people, of God. Remember, one thousand nine hundred eighty years ago tomorrow, the world chose to spare a criminal and crucify God himself.
Many young evangelicals who are making the decision that gay marriage conflicts with their personal beliefs, but it’ll be okay under the law, are making a compromise to avoid conflict and be liked by the world. “I’m not one of those Christians,” they think and often say.
They want to be liked. They want the world to like them and to think them a part of the world. They view Christians who are seen as too hostile to others as inferior in spreading the Gospel or too judgmental. They fall victim to the sin of pride that their gospel is greater.
They’ll nod approvingly to the lyrics of Casting Crowns “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” saying, “Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did.”
Unfortunately for them, they’ll be hated anyway, even if they don’t realize it.
The Casting Crowns song, which is all over Christian stations this month, contains this lyric: “The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me.”
Christ was very clear on this.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
The world is not on its way to Christ. The world hates Christ. The world will not allow a compromise between Christians and the world.
Evangelicals have a tough time on the issue of gay rights. If we hold to our convictions, we’re accused of hating gays. If we point out that sex outside of marriage is a sin, including among people of the same sex, we’re accused of saying they’re going to hell.
Christians are called to love their neighbors. Loving their neighbors does not mean turning a blind eye to their sin, or giving tacit approval to sin. Christians should want no one to go to hell. But we’ve arrived at a point where should we even mention this, we’re accused of saying gays are going to hell.
We must live our lives with love toward everyone and be friends to all who are opening to being friends. But we should not delude ourselves. At some point the world will make us choose. And if we choose Christ the world will accuse us of hating, condemning, and judging. The world is deeply hostile to the Christian idea of loving the sinner, but not the sin. The world believes we cannot love the sinner if we do not fully affirm them, which means loving, or at least tolerating or accepting, their sin.
If we truly love our neighbor we must pray for their repentance, not accept their sin. If they tell us God made them that way, we must know that we were all born sinners. God didn’t do it. Our fallen nature did. The struggle with sin in the process of sanctification leads us closer to God. Those who revel in sin do not draw close.
The chorus of the Casting Crowns song includes the line, “Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.” Christ heart breaks for all the fallen. Many Christians though are not believed when they confess their hearts break toward those who do not even recognize their sin.
Christians are accused of judging and casting stones, as the lyrics of that song claim, when all they are doing is not shying away from the fact that God sets standards. He may say to cast no stones, but he concludes with “go and sin no more.” Young evangelicals have bought into the notion that by proclaiming the standards of the Bible they are judging. They seek accommodation and given tacit approval to sin lest they be accused of judging or casting stones.
There is no accommodation on this issue with the world. Young evangelicals, Tim Keller, and the rest are deluded if they think they can seek a compromise with the world.
Mammon chose Barabbas and too many young evangelicals are choosing Mammon.
One of the unexpected results of my “Top 10″ post going viral is that it’s given me the opportunity to interact (via email and comments) with hundreds of people who are either atheists, anti-theists, agnostics, or skeptics.
I listened and I’ve attempted to answer as accurately, honestly, and transparently as possible. To that end, I took inventory of the basic comments, complaints, and objections of Christianity. I’ll address them over the next several articles, but it didn’t take long to identify the one major problem non-christians had with christianity…
Here are a few of many, many responses and comments I got:
“The subject isn’t why people leave Christianity, it’s why young people leave the church. Many young people leave because the people they are surrounded by are unpleasant, egotistical, and judgmental at best and hateful, criminal and hypocritical at worst.” – Tim
“Many “religious” people are hypocritical, they teach “tolerance” when really there isn’t any unless you are the right kind of person… it’s a joke!” - RPennington
“I left the Evangelical Church for the simpkr reason that I could no longer, in good conscience, belong to an organization that was so completely intolerant and hypocritical. For a religion that is supposed to be based on radical love I find that 90 Percent of the Christians I meet to be extremely judgemental black and white thinkers and their philosophies.” – Meg
“Most churches have a lot of hypocrites. I know from experience that people don’t act in church the way they act the rest of the time.” – Holly
“I think the term “hypocrite” comes from being told one thing by the staff and pulpit but in reality the staff does exactly what u’ve been told not too in private. U get told how wrong it is to do something yet their own children still living in their home are participating in those same activities you’ve just been judged for doing. I think that’s where the hypocrisy comes from.” – KT
And here’s my response.
I agree. Completely. The church is full of hypocrites.
Even ardent detractors of Christianity would agree that Jesus was pretty clear on where he stood with hypocrites. (Matthew 24 anyone)? In fact, Jesus is much harsher on hypocrites than we are. Why is that? Well, since we have such disdain for these “hypocrites”, let’s define what, or who they are.
Hypocrite (per Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
“For I do not understand my own actions. ForI do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ”
“ For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
“Wretched man that I am!”
Paul? Hypocrite by definition. What what separated him from the hypocrites (Pharisees) that Jesus blasted?
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are likewhitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
33 You serpents,you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
So much for “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild”, huh? Jesus hated hypocrisy more than we do.
But let’s make sure we’re clear in our distinctions:
In the end, we’re all failures. The difference is, from a Christian perspective, that we KNOW this. It’s the entire FOUNDATION of our faith; that ONLY through acknowledging this failure, this complete inability to do what it is we WANT through faith, can we be saved by Christ. You may reject the gospel of repentance of this failure and faith in Christ’s sacrificial death to forgive you of that failure. But christian, atheist, anti-theist, agnostic, or skeptic, we all fail in striving to live up to the standards we profess.
What does this mean in regard to the criticism of christians?
1. You’re right. We’re hypocrites (failures). I fail. I fail every…single…day in both word and deed in not only the things I’ve done, but things I’ve failed to do. I fail in my 2 stated goals by not loving God with all my heart and by not loving my neighbor as myself.
2. Anyone in the “visible” church who denies #1 is a hypocrite (fake). Jesus himself says that every..single.. person fails to live up to the standard. If you claim you do, and are delusionally trying to convince others that you do… you’re a fake. A fraud. A phony. And to those who criticize them as such, you’re right. Jesus agreed.
Christians aren’t “good people”, we’re hypocrites (failures). But the very core message of our faith prohibits us from being hypocrites (fakes). To be a “self-righteous Christian” is complete violate the law of non-contradiction. It’s impossible to be “self-righteous” in a faith where our ONLY righteousness comes from outside of us (Christ). Do you want to know how strongly Christianity teaches against “self-righteousness”? Scripture describes our ”self-righteous works” as filthy rags. Literally, dirty menstrual cloths. Let that sink in. (Isaiah 64). Any “righteousness” a christian has is the polar opposite of “self-righteousness”! As the same Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians:
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith
Found at Mad Medic:http://maddmedic.wordpress.com/
Some years back a good friend shared with me seven Scripture texts that he and his wife prayed for their two daughters from the time they were infants. The girls are now grown. And it’s beautiful to see how God has (and still is) answering the faithful, specific prayers of faith-filled parents in the lives of these young, godly women.
I have frequently used these prayers when praying for my children too. And I commend them to you (see below).
But, of course, prayers are not magic spells. It’s not a matter of just saying the right things and our children will be blessed with success.
Some parents earnestly pray and their children become a gifted leaders or scholars or musicians or athletes…
This is one of Christian culture’s very favorite things to say. Whether they actually will pray or not is anyone’s guess, but it seems important somehow that you believe they will. Versatile and efficient, “I’m praying for you” can be used in absolutely any situation to cover several evangelical bases and tend to egos all at once. With just four words it’s possible to establish yourself as spiritual alpha dog and signal an end to the conversation under the guise of bestowing blessing. Delicious andnutritious!
You may not find a less relational phrase in all of Christianese than “I’m praying for you.” When said in response to an expression of pain or heartbreak it often shuts the conversation down. The person sharing can feel as if they’ve been stiff-armed and kept at a distance by the person they were confiding in so they can be passed off to God Almighty. The confidant can easily say this and remain detached, and if you’ve said it before yourself, it’s that much more painful to hear.
People who are capable of casually informing people they’re praying for them can’t fathom that anyone could possibly have a problem with it. To their ears it’s the most wonderful thing to say and anyone taking issue must be a jaded miscreant who’s mad at God. (Anger at God is something else Christian culture does not endorse and does not deem permissible, but that’s a whole other blog post.) This is a prominent characteristic of Christian culture: they have no idea how they come off. If anyone feels marginalized or dismissed by the allegation of impending prayer, the pray-er will likely interpret this as disdain for the whole of Christianity and take it as a cue to write that person off.
Saying “I’m praying for you” may be as relational as someone in Christian culture knows how to be. They’re so busy Doing Things they may not know how to care and be cared for. All they may know is how to do is say things and remain detached, which definitely has its advantages. Actual relationship is a lot of work. Simpler to hold them at arm’s length and avoid holding people’s hurt than do the counter-intuitive work of bearing their burdens. When someone carries your struggle with you, the most healing form of relationship is taking place, and relationships are how we will all be healed. But they can be messy. It would be nice to keep this spirituality stuff within tidy boundaries. Which brings us to the hallmark of Christian culture: Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship. Keep this commandment and you will keep all the rest.
Planning God Right Out of Church
By: Dave Cole
Have you ever noticed that most churches you go to have “planned” God right out of the picture? You may or may not know that there are church service planning guides available that allow you to post online a service plan that assigns each and every song, prayer, announcement, message, and the invitation (If there is one) a time signature and lets the planner know the exact time of starting and ending and each individual event within the allotted time.
As I looked at one of these schedules the other day, there is one thing that stood out to me. The invitation – that part of the service in evangelical services where people are given the opportunity to come forward and publicly identify their intent to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior – was assigned a time of three minutes. Three minutes. The primary purpose of preaching the gospel is to present Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him. Therefore, in my mind, the most important part of the service – indeed the primary focus of even having the service – is relegated to three or four minutes of our time. Note that I said “our time’ because God is not on a time schedule. In many churches, the invitation time or altar call as some call it, is not only a time for unsaved people to come to Christ, it is a time when Christians with other needs can come and pray and/or talk with someone about other needs in their personal life. I don’t know about you but I’m not going to waste my time to walk down to the altar when that “time slot” will be over before I make it down there. No wonder we don’t see many people getting saved or hurting people ministered to. We are all too busy. I just wonder what God thinks about all of this. I don’t think he is in a hurry and I know He will not be placed in our neat little human boxes.
Now I know the argument can be made that many churches have more than one service which makes it necessary to have a definite end and start time especially for the starting service. I understand that point. But should that hold true for the last service when there is nothing following except the need to beat the Methodists to the restaurant? Is our belly more important to us than souls? And if we need two or three services – then maybe our church is too big and it needs to be broken down into more usable parts. The late, great Leonard Ravenhill said that any church over 200-300 people was too big. Maybe he was right. We have come to the point in many churches that everything we do needs to be polished, professional, and perfect. Nothing wrong with doing things well and right but are we polishing the silver while the ship is sinking? Are we all pomp and polish with no substance? I am examining my own heart and realizing how easy it is to grow accustomed to the churchy way of doing things and totally miss what God wants to do in every one of our lives.
Another thing Ravenhill said was that if the fire of God ever starts falling in our churches – then we will not have to beg people to come. They will be running to the church to see what is going on. We would not be able to contain them. I’m afraid there is not even a spark – much less a fire in most churches in America. Sadly, we have planned God right out of the Church.
The Process of Prophecy
Q: Why didn’t God tell you the accountant was embezzling?
A: Because that is not how God designed things to work.
Having said that, I want to be clear – I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the prophetic. I have seen some wild stuff in the past 20 years and while I no longer run in charismatic circles, I am not interested in poo-pooing on my friends’ parade nor explaining away my experience.
Process theology has given me an interesting framework with which to view the phenomenon.
I can do it in 3 simple steps!
- Step out of the 3 Tiered Universe. The Bible was written in an antiquated vocabulary that was embedded in a system that had Heaven above & Hell below. We still use that vocabulary but recognize now that it is only imagery – not physical reality.
- Step away from the super-Natural. Get rid of the imagery that God is ‘up’ in heaven and periodically pokes through the thin veil to whisper in your ear – if you have enough faith, or if you are a chosen vessel, or if you are not tainted by sin, or … the truth is that God is with you. Holy Spirit is a work all around you.
God doesn’t need to ‘come down, or ‘break in’ or ‘break through’. God is down, in, and through.
- Be aware of and open to the reality of God’s presence in the world. From verbal cues to body language – there are hundreds of ways that we perceive and interpret other people and our interactions. The is nothing magical about your receptivity, openness or awareness of what is possibly going on with someone else. As Christians, we believe that God’s Spirit is alive and at work in the world. Part of that ministry is to heighten and intensify our already existent (by grace) ability to listen, perceive and interpret social and relational interactions.
I have done this enough to know the objections that are bound to arise. So let me just say 2 things with the space I have left:
- There are several innovative definitions of transcendence (as it relates to God) that get us out of the 3 Tiered Universe but still hold that God is not just a big bearded guy in the sky that we made up to feel like ‘somebody is watching over us’ and will take care of things in the end. Both Process theology and the work of Panneneberg give us visions of God’s otherness that squash most objections to moving in the direction that I am headed: we don’t lose the transcendence/otherness of God.
I love the idea that God is the power of the future. God comes to us in each moment and provides the possibility of a preferable reality complete with contingencies of the past. That gets me out of bed in the morning!
- Prophecy is a sign that is meant to create in us a greater level of faith, trust and awareness. It is not a ‘party trick’ nor is it a primary mode of decision making. If you are relying on God’s Voice to plan travel itineraries, invest in the stock market, look for your missing child, counsel people getting divorced, or predict the weather … I got bad news for ya. That is not how God designed this all to work.
Admittedly, you have to downgrade your expectations a little bit. Gone are the days of thinking that some stranger on the street is going to call out your name and tell you all the secrets of your heart – and which fork in the road is ‘God’s will’. The magic show is over. Prophecy happens in relationship.
BUT (and this is a big but) because God is relational and inside a relationship God’s Spirit can lead your friend to speak loving, kind, challenging words to you – by being open and available … that is pretty great stuff! It’s just not magic.
It’s like your sex life. One you get rid of the unrealistic expectations of porn, you can have a healthy real relationship that is both satisfying and sustainable. First, though, you have to acknowledge that the earlier thing was fantasy … or you will be perpetually disappointed.
From Home Brewed Christianity: http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2012/06/01/the-process-of-prophecy/
The barnyard sat baking in the afternoon sun as the evangelist stood chatting with the old farmer. Farmer Joe, it seemed, had stopped attending the little fundamentalist church down the road and the pastor had sent the evangelist hither to ask the reason why Joe had left the flock.
“So Joe,” the evangelists said with the kind of studied casualness that always harbors a hidden intent, “I was just wondering if we’ll see you back at the church sometime soon.”
Joe said nothing for a minute, hooking calloused finger inside the strap of his overalls and squinting out over the sprawling farm that he called home.
“Well, sir,” he said at last, “I reckon there’s not much need to go all the way down to the church when I’ve got myself a fundamentalist farm right here in front of me.”
The evangelist paused in confusion for a moment then begged him to explain. And so Joe began…
“Right down the way from them you’ll see what I call my “churchy chickens.” They strut around all trying to be the most important one in the bunch and getting their feathers ruffled whenever somebody else tries to get in their spot. And if some poor unfortunately bird happens to get injured or sick those other chickens will gather around it and peck it to death just out of pure spite. I don’t need to go back to that church with them reminding me every day how it was.”
“If you’ll look down there to the hog pen you’ll see my pigs. I call them Potluck and Fellowship. They’ll eat and eat and eat until they make themselves plumb sick but they never seem to feel bad about it at all. No matter how much slop I throw in there they just can’t ever seem to get enough. Why seeing them every day keeps me from ever having to attend another special function or church banquet.”
“And down the hill there you can see my prize bull in the pasture. He spends all day stomping around, bellowing and trying to remind everybody who can see him that he’s the one running the show in these parts while spreading around enough manure to make it a hazard to even try to walk through there. In fact, he only ever stops the bellowing and manure spreading for long enough to try to mount every heifer in the place. With all that going on here every day it keeps me from missing my old pastor at all.”
The evangelist walked slowly back to his car and drove back to the church. “I guess he’s attending somewhere else now,” was all he could think say to the pastor’s inquiries about how the visit went.
From Stuff Fundies Like: http://www.stufffundieslike.com/page/4/
Found at Lane Chaplin
On a long road trip recently, I had a chance to put my new phone through it’s paces. One of the cooler features on the new iPhone is my new friend “Siri”. I push a button, tell Siri what I want it to do, and it goes to work; looking up obscure facts, finding the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, sending a text to a friend. The previous iPhone put the world at my fingertips.. now it obeys the command of my voice! In the end, however, it’s just a phone. A really, really awesomely cool phone, but a phone nonetheless. It can only do what is in it’s limited set of capabilities. “Siri, where is the nearest dry cleaner?” works. “Siri, make me whole.” does not. Why? Even the iPhone is just a phone.
Shortly after playing with my phone, I ended up hearing a sermon from a well known Word of Faith preacher making God sound an awful lot like Siri.
To be honest, this isn’t an article I ever wanted to write, but I really don’t have a choice. So why am I doing it?
I’m called to proclaim the gospel of repentance and faith in Christ to all men, everywhere. I love Christ and I love people, and to sit by while the gospel of Christ and faith in His atonement are misrepresented and men are deceived is unthinkable.
Why is this worth spending your time reading? Well, the scope of this error is staggering:
The Word of Faith error is currently being taught from the pulpit of the largest church in the United States, taught on the most viewed christian TV station in the world*, and is taught via the most downloaded religious podcast on iTunes. To say that this false teaching has replaced the historical, biblical gospel in the American mind would not be an overstatement. I had shrugged my shoulders at this nonsense for so long that I figured anyone who spent any time in the bible would see the obvious error, but during my daily reading, I was hit with a few verses that made me seriously reconsider my reluctance to write this article;
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
(2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)
and later in James:
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
(James 5:19-20 ESV)
To do this, I’m going to have to do two things that are distasteful in our post-modern society;
1. Call folks out by name.
2. Openly state that they are in error. (Which some would say is judgemental.)
Scripture states that both are acceptable, as evidenced by the following from Paul:
In Acts 20:26-31 Paul had spent 3 years teaching the gospel to the church, Paul gathered the elders in Ephesus and warns the church about those within the church who would teach contrary doctrines and other gospels. INSIDE the church. So, this isn’t a denominational issue. This is a body issue. Paul names them by name: Hymenaeus and and Philetus. (1Tim 1:20), and later Alexander the coppersmith. (2 Tim 14).
I’ll present these errors, show how they stand in opposition to the gospel, and call out names of these teachers so that you may avoid them. Avoid them or not, I will know that my hands are clean, and you will be responsible for the knowledge that these men are teaching a different gospel, contrary to the one handed down. And for that reason:
I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
(Jude 1:3 ESV)
At the end of this article, if you choose to continue to follow a Word of Faith ministry, you will do so with the knowledge that it is a different gospel from the one “once and all delivered to the saints.”
What is the Word of Faith error and why is it a big deal?
I’ll give you a brief history on how the error originated and then get directly to the error:
In the early 1900’s, a man named E.W. Kenyon attended Emerson College of Oratory where the philosophy of “mind science” was all the rage. This belief held that your thoughts could control and create reality. This teaching came from a man named Phineas Quimby, father of the “New Thought” movement. This type of mind-over-matter metaphysics held to the thought that wrong results (including physical sickness) were caused by wrong thoughts, and that proper thoughts and positive confessions would create positive realities. It’s important to understand that while Kenyon was a Christian, these doctrines were imported into his faith from outside of orthodox Christianity. To prove this out, look at any history of the church, or ancient christian dogmatics. Do you see this teaching ANYWHERE before the Quimby or Kenyon? (No.)
Over time, Kenyon developed the following doctrines:
1. God did not create the universe from nothing, but by speaking faith-filled words (and we can do the same thing).
2. Faith isn’t a belief, rather a tangible substance. God’s words were merely containers for this tangible material called “faith”. (Faith is an object, a THING).
3. Therefore, we can create our own physical reality (including health and wealth) by positive confession, or speaking these things into existence using words as containers of this tangible thing (faith).
Do you wonder why someone like Oprah would be comfortable with having Joel Osteen or TD Jakes on the stage with folks like Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and “New Thought” (remember Quimby) teacher Iyanla Vanzant? They teach the same mind-science (metaphysics)!
Kenyon developed other unorthodox theories, adopted by many (not all) Word of Faith preachers, which I won’t cover in this article. This week, I’ll simply focus on the most common heresy to come out of this movement; Positive Profession (the belief that we can speak things into existence) , and how it’s taken root in the body of Christ.
Kenyon’s works would likely have been lost to obscurity had they not been discovered and quoted (unsourced) verbatim, and popularized by a man named Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003).
Hagin is known as “Dad Hagin” and has spawned the Word of Faith movement which includes: Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, TD Jakes, Fredrick Price, Joyce Meyer, Marilyn Hickey, Paula White, Bennie Hinn, Paul Crouch, Robert Tilton, Myles Monroe, and others less known.
Hagin claimed that much of what he taught was received directly from Jesus during 8 personal visitations (one of which was for this teaching quoted directly from Kenyon, above). Why is this problematic? The following from WoF preacher Gloria Copeland:
Gloria Copeland: “You say why do ya’ll talk so much about Kennith Hagin when you do this? Because he is where we learn how to walk in the spirit. How did he know it? He had the very unusual experience of jesus himself coming to teach him these things, and then he called him to teach all of us.” The problem is that not only is this not a biblical doctrine found in scripture, origin is not Jesus, but taken from Kenyon.
So, to recap so far.. we’ve got a non-Christian mind-science philosophy discovered and blended into christian language by an obscure writer (Kenyon). We then have a man named Hagin discover and quote (unsourced) these ideas and claim they came form a direct visit from Jesus himself. This doctrine is now being taught from the pulpit of the largest church in the US, dominating the airwaves through the largest christian TV station in the world, and listing as the most downloaded religious podcasts on iTunes. See the problem?
So, let’s go to the Word of Faith preachers themselves for some quotes. Then, let’s see how they justify this biblically, and finally look at the verses they use in context.
“The force of faith in the spiritual realm is very much like forces in the physical realm; Gravity, electricity.. measurable, actionable, conductible, perceptible to the touch. ” – Kenneth Copeland and Paul Crouch on TBN
Sound familiar? This is Kenyon’s theory that faith is an actual, tangible THING which is released through the containers of our words.
“What do you need? I need Money. Start creating it. Start speaking about it, start speaking it into being. Speak to your billfold, say “You big billfold full of money!” Speak to your checkbook, say “You checkbook, you have never been so prosperous since I owned you! You’re just jammed full of money. You got pain and disease in your body? Speak to your body. Got will create the fruit of your words.” – Marilyn Hickey
Speak it into being? Folks, that’s not christianity, that’s voodoo. It’s mind-science goofiness. Seriously, this is NOT historical, orthodox Christianity.
“That same holy spirit wants to send spiritual light into a dark word, but he is waiting for us to speak and decree that thing and it will come to pass. Whatever you speak will come to pass. You’ve got to speak it and decree it.. you decree the thing, you pay your vow, and it comes to pass.” – Paul Crouch, Founder and President of TBN
There’s an underlying theology here that I won’t address in detail, but in short, WoF teaches that God is unable to work on earth until we permit him to due to Satan being the legal guardian of earth after the fall. Here’s a stunning summary of that doctrine by WoF preacher Miles Monroe:
“God can do nothing on earth, god could do nothing on earth without human assistance. God has the power, but you have the permission. God has the power, but you have the license. God can only do what you permit him to do.”
How big is the WoF view that man can limit God’s plan with the words of his mouth? How about this from the pastor of the largest church in the United States, Joel Osteen:
“It’s because God knew that Zechariah’s negative words would cancel out His plan . . . See, God knows the power of our words. He knows we prophesy our future. And He knew Zechariah’s own negative words would stop His plan.”
If that doesn’t set off every warning alarm, I’m not sure this article will do you much good.
Zechariah’s words would stop God’s plan? Really? REALLY?!?
Do you see the problem? It’s heresy 101: Make God smaller, and make man bigger.. and in the end you get the ability to have your fleshly desires of wealth and prosperity. It’s no wonder this is being gobbled up by the public, it requires no repentance of sin! It allows sinful man to gain his desires! Is this the gospel? Good grief, no!
Here are some of the favorite WoF proof texts: (A proof text is a portion of scripture used to support a position. While it’s easy to take a single verse, or a single phrase out of context to make it say whatever you like, context will always clarify the author’s original intent.)
Note: I’ll limit these specifically to “The Big 3″ of those used for “Positive Profession”. I may do an article later covering the “Health and Prosperity” verses.
Proof Text 1:
“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
(Mark 11:23 ESV)
“Get ready to release your faith right now for whatever you need from God. Mark 11, verses 22-24, will work for any need. And Jesus answering them saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Whosoever shall say unto this mountain.According to Jesus, in order to change things you are to speak to the mountain. The mountain is the obstacle or need in your life. Let’s assume that your need is financial – you just simply need more money to live and to give. Say this: “Poverty, I speak to you in the name of Jesus, and I command you to be removed from my presence and my life. I will no longer tolerate you. I forbid you to operate against me in any way.” You do not talk to God about the problem. Talk to Him about the answer – the Word of God….Most people want God to talk to the mountain for them, but HE WILL NOT. He has given the believer that authority; and if you want results, do it His way. TALK TO THE MOUNTAIN!”
- Gloria Copeland, God’s Will is Prosperity, 103
Historical understanding of these verses, in context:
Jesus entered Jerusalem as one coming in the name, that is, the authority, of the Lord with a God-given mission of salvation (“Hosanna” means save now). By riding a colt, Jesus laid claim to His own brand of messiahship—not conquering hero but humble servant (see Zech. 9:9).
The cursing of the fig tree was a prophetic act meant to illustrate God’s judgment upon the temple, which had proved unfruitful by not realizing its mission as a place of prayer for all people. What is necessary for experiencing God is not the temple (see 13:1–2) but “faith in God.” Indeed, faith makes the temple obsolete. The one who believes can cast the temple mount into the sea (contrast 1 Kgs. 8:29–30). Forgiveness of sins is not experienced in temple sacrifice but in sharing God’s willingness to forgive. The “forgiveness requirement” warns believers not to turn their prayer time into a robbers’ retreat.
Understandably, the religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority because cleansing the temple was the responsibility of the Messiah or the end-time prophet (Mal. 3:1–5; Zech. 14:20–21). Leaders had earlier questioned Jesus’ authority to announce God’s forgiveness (2:1–12), celebrate God’s new work (2:18–22), and do good on the Sabbath (3:1–6). Jesus’ question suggests that His authority was God given.
Which exalts Christ and which exalts man? Let’s do a reality check here. You think that this message of “speaking to your mountains” would have been foreign to Paul, who was plagued with health problems his entire life? To the apostles who were executed?
Not convinced yet, my WoF friends? Here’s the challenge, Old Testament Style:
This is Mount Wycheproof in Wycheproof, Australia. Standing at 43 metres (141 ft) above the surrounding terrain, Mount Wycheproof has the distinction of being the smallest registered mountain in the world.
So, go ahead and cast that one into the sea. I’m giving you a break here with a “starter mountain”. I mean, if you can’t even cast the smallest mountain into the sea, well, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do. (OK, so you’re going to allegorize; these aren’t actual mountains here, but circumstances.) Fair enough, here’s another one, one that Gloria Copeland says you’re supposed to control; The weather! (http://marc5solas.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/512/)
Central and Western Nebraska are in what the US Drought Monitor calls “Exceptional Drought”, their highest rating. If you could go ahead and send them a few inches of rain, that should suffice. You should probably go ahead and let them know. I’m sure the farmers would be overjoyed!
Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but the point should be clear: You don’t speak to mountains, you don’t control the weather, and you don’t speak things into existence. There’s as much a difference between you and God’s creative power as there is between me and Siri. Scripture says that people get sick, people were cursed, nations were conquered and taken into captivity, the sun stood still, rain came and rain was witheld. Why? That we might know that He is God.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
(John 9:1-3 ESV)
Proof Text 2:
“for as he thinketh in his heart; so is he”
- Proverbs 23:7 (first half of verse)
“Where the mind goes, the man follows. God’s Word says: As (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he!” – Joyce Meyer
Historical understanding of these verses, in context:
First of all, I’d like to point out 2 tools used by teachers trying to smuggle their own views into scripture. Both of these should jump out at you immediately:
1. One half of one verse is quoted, and it’s not even a complete sentence!
2. This verse is ALWAYS quoted in the King James Version. Does your pastor preach from the KJV? If not, why does he quote this verse in the KJV? Here’s why:
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
Even in the only version which could be used to make it appear that what you think dictates what you become, the error is obvious when the entire verse is used. Seriously, even using the rest of the single verse used shows this as bogus.
More proof? Here’s why your pastor teaches this verse from the KJV; It plays on the antiquated KJV grammar and how we would read it now. How about a ton of other reputable translations, which your pastor actually teaches from which blow this proof text up?
New International Version (©1984)
for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
New Living Translation (©2007)
They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.
English Standard Version (©2001)
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
for it’s like someone calculating inwardly.” Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
International Standard Version (©2012)
for as he thinks within himself, so he is. “Eat and drink!” he’ll say to you, but his heart won’t be with you.
King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, says he to you; but his heart is not with you.
American Standard Version
For as he thinketh within himself, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; But his heart is not with thee.
Because like a soothsayer, and diviner, he thinketh that which he knoweth not. Eat and drink, will he say to thee: and his mind is not with thee.
This verse isn’t talking about your thoughts creating your reality, here it is in context to be ridiculously, simply, clear:
Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy;
do not desire his delicacies,
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
(Proverbs 23:6-7 ESV)
It’s about a guy who is hypocritically generous. Eat and drink! He says, but he doesn’t mean it.. he’s inwardly stingy.
Makes you wonder if the abuse of this text is accidental, doesn’t it? How would a man who has “studied to show himself approved” to handle the biblical text (and teach it to others) use only 1/2 of 1 verse, out of context? Shady, no? (By the way, the book picture above, “As a Man Thinketh”, by James Allen? Allen wasn’t a christian, he was a well known British philosopher and “New Thought” proponent. Seeing a trend yet?
Proof Text 3:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)
“Remember, the power that is in you is greater than the power of fear. When thoughts come that say, ‘You’re not able’, choose faith by saying, ‘I can do all things through Christ!”
- Joel Osteen
Historical understanding of these verses, in context:
First of all, did you catch the red flag here? “the power that is in you is greater than the power of fear”? Huh. What power? I looked at over 20 translation, including the original Greek and all say “He”.. the pronoun “He” referring to the original subject at the beginning of the sentence (wait, using half sentences again? fail.) The original subject is “God”.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4 ESV)
Where does it say you have power inside of you? And greater than “the power of fear”?
No, greater than “He who is in the world”. Hmm. If only we had a way of knowing who “He” is.. Oh, wait, I know.. the previous portion of the chapter in context! (sarcasm)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
(1 John 4:1-3 ESV)
Sorry, Joel, you fail miserably here. Not only do you not get the verse in any sort of context, you actually somehow make the real spirit of God in me and real enemy of the saints in the world about me and my fear. Surprised?
As for the “I can do all things”? I Here it is in a previous blog article:http://marc5solas.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/stuff-the-bible-doesnt-say/
If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s the 10 second version:
“All things doesn’t mean everything, it means all ‘these’ things, which are listed earlier in the CONTEXT:
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.
(Philippians 4:10-14 ESV)
The Marc5Solas “Put up or Shut up” Challenge: If you really believe you can do all things, you need to get off your computer, drive to the nearest children’s pediatric ICU and start healing kids.
So, to wrap up this week, we’ve got a non-christian mind-science philosophy, completely foreign to the orthodox, historical faith, being brought into the christian world in the mid 1900’s. This theology clearly takes scripture out of context to support this foreign philosophy, yet has the largest audience of any faith in the United States. Folks, wake up. This is a problem. This junk is being sold to millions of people as Christianity. It’s far past hair-splitting theological positions like eternal security, or end-times events. If these folks aren’t being called to repentance and faith in Christ’s atonement, they’re still under God’s wrath. I’ll continue with additional proof texts and additional doctrines of the WoF movement next week!
* Not everything on TBN is WoF. I would recommend against watching TBN due to the ratio of error to truth. There’s just too much nonsense on TBN for me to recommend it to anyone. Any of the legit ministries on TBN also have their own websites and portals to access their broadcasts or content.
From Marc Solas: http://marc5solas.wordpress.com/
There’s a story told about a Paris chief of police who was called to a department store to stop a burglary in progress.
Upon his arrival, he reconnoitered the situation and ordered his men to surround the entrances of the building next door.
When questioned about his actions, he replied that he didn’t have enough men to cover the department store’s many entrances but he did have enough for the building next door.
Let’s see whether there are similarities between his strategy and today’s gun control strategy.
Last year, Chicago had 512 homicides; Detroit had 411; Philadelphia had 331; and Baltimore had 215.
Those cities are joined by other dangerous cities—such as St. Louis, Memphis, Tenn., Flint, Mich., and Camden, N.J. — and they also lead the nation in shootings, assaults, rapes and robberies.
Both the populations of those cities and their crime victims are predominantly black. Each year, more than 7,000 blacks are murdered.
Close to 100% of the time, the murderer is another black person.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims.
Though blacks are 13% of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50% of homicide victims.
Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it’s 22 times that of whites.
Coupled with being most of the nation’s homicide victims, blacks are also most of the victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault and robbery.
The magnitude of this tragedy can be seen in another light. According to a Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute study, between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 blacks were lynched at the hands of whites.
What percentage of murders, irrespective of race, are committed with what are being called assault weapons?
From Weasel Zippers:http://weaselzippers.us/
The Pitfalls of “Dialogue”
By Robert Spencer
Robert McManus, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, recently dropped me from a scheduled appearance at a Catholic conference in Worcester on the grounds that “Mr. Spencer’s talk would impact negatively on the Church’s increasingly constructive dialogue with Muslims.”
In the name of interreligious dialogue, it’s not uncommon for Muslim spokesmen to visit churches with the stated goal of clearing up “misconceptions” about Islam. Such sessions often include the Muslim speaker’s downplaying the reality of jihad activity and Muslim persecution of Christians, and offering his Christian audience bland assurances that such things have nothing to do with authentic Islam.
On a larger scale, Muslims have engaged in several high-profile attempts at dialogue with Catholics in recent years, to which Catholics have generally responded with enthusiasm. Yet, there is less to these attempts at outreach than meets the eye. The two most visible and well-publicized attempts by Muslims to reach out to Catholics turn out, on close examination, to be thinly veiled exercises in proselytizing. All of these attempts at “dialogue” share several common characteristics, including most notably a downplaying and glossing-over of the differences between Christianity and Islam, an over-emphasis on the similarities between the two religions, and a call to Christians to abandon or modify certain of their core beliefs, while never budging an inch on Islamic doctrines.
One notorious example of this came a few years ago, when 138 Muslim leaders and scholars from all over the globe issued a more extensive appeal to Christians for mutual understanding, entitled A Common Word Between Us and You. The “Common Word” initiative is quite extensive, with ongoing conferences and other mutual endeavors between Muslims and Catholics, as well as between Muslims and other Christian groups. The Common Word website describes the project in enthusiastic terms: “Never before have Muslims delivered this kind of definitive consensus statement on Christianity. Rather than engage in polemic, the signatories have adopted the traditional and mainstream Islamic position of respecting the Christian scripture and calling Christians to be more, not less, faithful to it.”
Following a pattern that’s common in documents like these, data contradicting the assertions in A Common Word Between Us and You are not addressed and refuted but simply ignored. Nothing is said, for example, about the Islamic claim that the Christian Scripture has been corrupted. While claiming they want to respect Christian Scripture and build on common ground, the Muslim scholars (despite copious Qur’an quotes) never mention Qur’an 5:17, which says that those who believe in the divinity of Christ are unbelievers; or 4:171, which says that Jesus was not crucified; or 9:30, which says that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are accursed; or 9:29, which mandates warfare against and the subjugation of Jews and Christians. Why should they mention these unpleasant passages in the midst of trying to build bridges? Because they are precisely the obstacles to such bridges. For there to be any true and honest dialogue, verses like these must be addressed in some way, even if only to give them a benign interpretation.
When Pope John Paul II died, the Washington Post reminded its readers how “during his long reign, Pope John Paul II apologized to Muslims for the Crusades, to Jews for anti-Semitism, to Orthodox Christians for the sacking of Constantinople, to Italians for the Vatican’s associations with the Mafia and to scientists for the persecution of Galileo.” In reality, he never apologized for the Crusades; the closest he came was on March 12, 2000, the “Day of Pardon,” when he said, “[W]e cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken towards the followers of other religions.”
Though it’s hardly an “apology for the Crusades,” nonetheless one would be hard pressed to find a similar statement from any Muslim leader, still less one of the pope’s stature, acknowledging any wrongdoing on the part of Muslims individually or of any Islamic state. The idea of a Muslim asking pardon and forgiveness from a non-Muslim is anathema to Islamic theology. But some kind of reciprocity of this kind would seem necessary for genuine dialogue.
Reading the entire Qur’anic verse from which the phrase “a common word between us and you” was taken makes clear the Common Word initiative’s agenda: “Say: ‘People of the Book! Come now to a word common between us and you, that we serve none but God, and that we associate not aught with Him, and do not some of us take others as Lords, apart from God.’ And if they turn their backs, say: ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims’” (3:64). Since Muslims consider the Christian confession of the divinity of Christ to be an unacceptable association of a partner with God, this verse is saying that the “common word” that Muslims and the People of the Book should agree on is that Christians should discard one of the central tenets of their faith and essentially become Muslims.
Not a promising basis for an honest and mutually respectful dialogue of equals. The Common Word document’s explanation for this was disingenuous, not mentioning that according to the mainstream Islamic understanding of what it means to “ascribe a partner to God,” the Christians were guilty of this sin:
The words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God, and the words: worship none but God, relate to being totally devoted to God. Hence they all relate to the First and Greatest Commandment. According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries on the Holy Qur’an the words: that none of us shall take others for lords beside God, mean “that none of us should obey the other in disobedience to what God has commanded.” This relates to the Second Commandment because justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbour.
The Common Word document suggests its true intentions in its Qur’anic epigraph: “Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and contend with them in the fairest way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright.” This verse (16:125) is a curious choice to head up a document that is ostensibly devoted to finding common ground for dialogue and mutual cooperation—unless the intention is actually only to proselytize.
The use of this epigraph recalls the words of the Egyptian Islamic supremacist writer Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), the great theorist of the Muslim Brotherhood: “The chasm between Islam and Jahiliyyah [the society of unbelievers] is great, and a bridge is not to be built across it so that the people on the two sides may mix with each other, but only so that the people of Jahiliyyah may come over to Islam.”
Muslims in the U.S. and Europe often term their outreach to non-Muslims “bridge-building,” but to Muslims this expression has a very different meaning. Bishop McManus, and those like him, should take careful note.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His upcoming book, Not Peace But A Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam, will be available March 25.
From Atlas Shrugs: http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/
Found at Moonbattery: http://moonbattery.com/
From Theo Spark