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Archive for March, 2012

George Fox University is the most liberal/Emergent school in the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International). So I was not surprised to learn they had held an interfaith dialogue. Thank you, Ken Cook, for your excellent critique of what I consider an anti-christian event, held at what basically has become a heretical Emerging/Emergent New Evangelical school.

Click here for the original blog, copied and pasted in its entirety below. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]:

Sacred Journey: A Protestant at an Interfaith Dialogue

Interfaith Dialogue

[Author: Ken Cook, January 25, 2012]

When a pastor friend of mine told me that there was an interfaith dialogue at George Fox University, the local college, I was excited to go. I have read, studied, and listened to and about this type of thing, but never had attended one in the flesh. I figured it would be an eye opening experience.

Interfaith Dialogue

The speakers were a Zen Buddhist teacher, a Rabbi, a Muslim and a Woman Pastor (From George Fox). The music and rayers [sic] were done by the local Baha’i Center. (see their bios)[Excuse me? This was held at a “Christian” university – so why did they not take the upper hand and lead the music and prayers? Why did they allow followers of Baha’i to do so?]

Bios of Interfaith Speakers, George Fox 1/15/12

The Jewish Rabbi spoke first. I took notes. By no means is this a complete discussion or recounting, but rather it just hits the things that I felt were most noteworthy. He was discussing the Jewish “Master Story”. He said it was a story of the confronting of power and that the story was centered in Exodus and Numbers. He went on to explain that need to confront power (Pharaoh) and go to the promised land.

The thing that really got to me was the Rabbi’s discussion extolling doubt as a virtue. He started of like this: “You know those tv preachers… I am envious of them, of their confidence.” *Audience has sporadic laughter and agreement*. He continued to expound on the idea of doubt is a virtue of faith. This idea was linked to the idea of a rabbi discouraging a non-Jew from becoming Jewish.  It was a somewhat non-nonsensical argument in my mind.

From a Christian perspective this guy was coming out of shallow left field. Doubt isn’t a virtue. Faith is. Nowhere in his presentation, which included a lengthy discussion of Jews seeking justice for the oppressed, was there anything about looking for a messiah. Maybe it is just my Christian perspective, but I thought that the Jews were still looking forward to the Messiah. How is it that we can have a discussion of faith and not mention Jesus the whole time. I wish that he would have answered the question: Who is Jesus to you?

The Muslim speaker presented next. He opened up with a commentary on the moderators opening comments. He was focused upon this idea of justice, and how justice was missing from many of the presentations of this kind (speaking of interfaith discussions I believe). I found myself somewhat frustrated by this talk of justice by a Muslim. It was my belief that justice for this man meant something that is injustice from not just a Christian perspective, but from every other perspective represented there: namely, Sharia Law.  I had stopped listening and my mind was flooded with the few specifics of Sharia that I knew and perhaps the only verse in the Qur’an that I know by heart – O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. — Qur’an 5:51.  So Here is a man standing before me who is preaching a justice that would mean my (and the rest of those present who were not Muslim) subjugation, oppressive taxation or death. My mind then went on to wonder how many people were actually understanding what he wasn’t saying here. How many people would understand that his concept of justice is in fact unjust.

I came back from my thoughts, in time to hear him begin discussing how cartoons of the prophet are offensive. He explained that from the Islamic perspective all the prophets are to be respected. He then went through in Arabic some of the highlights of the OT prophets, asking the crowd if they could recognize which prophet he meant. Then he got to Isa. I knew I was about to be galled. The crowd of course didn’t recognize the name. He pressured them and finally told us that it was the prophet we would call Jesus; and that we got his name wrong. The smug arrogance of the statement was thick in the air. I could tell that many of the Christians had a deep disagreement and frustration by this statement, which was oddly encouraging that they seemed to take a stand on something.  I would have loved to press this guy on this idea and on the concept that he actually respects Jesus as a prophet, given that he denies what Jesus taught.  I get the feeling that he doesn’t understand that Jesus claimed for himself divinity ( John 8:48ff).

He then went on to discuss Muslim prayers, something that I found interesting is that he said that you get more credit [with Allah] if you pray with at least one other person. The idea was that it was somehow a better work than simply praying alone.  He then discussed heaven and how it is about having more good works than bad works. I was sure that his 15 minutes had elapsed at this point. He must have discussed prayer for another 5 minutes.

He seemed to be winding down, with the concept of missionary work being offensive to Muslims. He said if you come to the poorest and dig a well that is good, but if you dig the well and “Bring your Christ” it is offensive. He made it seem like this type of thing is akin to taking advantage of the poor.  With this he finished. I sat back thinking to myself how he really just didn’t tell the whole story. From my understanding, the concept here is that Jesus is not God in Islam. That to come and preach that Jesus is God is what is offensive to the Muslim.  They need us to do these things for them, but don’t want Christ preached beyond what the Qur’an says about him.

Here is the problem: The Message of Christ is Offensive. ( cf. Gal 5:11, 1 Pet 2:8, Rom 9:33)  I know this may come as a shock to you — the Gospel of the crucified God-Man Jesus Christ is just as offensive to the Muslim as it was to the Jews and Greeks.

One might think that I am a bit off the reservation with the whole justice and Sharia law issue. After Mr. Ahmed’s presentation, I went up to him and asked him if he felt that Sharia law was perfectly Just. His answer was no surprise, he said that it was absolutely just. I would assert that any man who consistently holds to that position, and believes that such a law should govern any land, can never ultimately have religious agreement with a non-Muslim. The difference in concept of justice is so definitively separate. To be clear, that doesn’t mean that he will be violent, abusive or destructive to those of another faith.

Mr. Carlson Spoke after the break. I am not really going to say much about his presentation, for two reasons. 1. Buddhism as a non-Abrahamic faith would require a lot of explaining and 2. Given that he holds to a non-theistic view of Buddhism, the specifics don’t matter as much as the general theism issue in my mind. He is simply an Atheist with an Eastern philosophical-religious system at the end of the day. I believe he should be addressed as any atheist would.

The Final speaker of the night was Sarah Baldwin, the George Fox Campus Pastor. I did Call Mrs. Baldwin a couple days after the event to clarify a couple of things. Sarah presented what she called a “Theology of Suffering.” The focus of her presentation was that we experience the Christian life not as Jesus and me, but as Jesus and we. She stated off with a story about going to Calcutta. She said she was struck by the amount of suffering. She began to tell of a woman who was naked on the streets, and how she experienced “Jesus in the flesh, in the eyes of that woman.”  She then said that she could make sense of the gospel, “whatever you do for the least of these.”  I was ready to lose it.1  The Gospel is not whatever you do for the least of these, the Gospel is defined for us by Paul as –

…That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  1 Corinthians 15:3ff (ESV)

I would say that if we are offering up a gospel different from what Paul dictates for us in scripture, we are in serious trouble.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Galations 1:8-9

However, the most problematic statement by Mrs. Baldwin was, “by Jesus’ Death, he carries our suffering.” I don’t need a crucified savior to relate with my suffering, I need him to remove my sin. [Amen!]

Here’s my big problem with the whole event. There wasn’t a clear proclamation of law and gospel. There was no call to repentance of sinners. I understand an event to gain knowledge about other faiths, but I believe that Christians that are given an audience of non-believers, should be compelled to call them to repent. If we believe that hell is real, and people are really going there, how could we function otherwise? [Therein lies the problem. George Fox University has gone from a born again evangelical position to an Emerging/Emergent position. Those holding to an Emerging/Emergent position would never preach so “offensively” that “ungodly sinners need to come to Christ in repentance to escape a fiery eternity in the Lake of Fire.” After all, they say, “we need to practice missional and/or attractional evangelism, not confrontational evangelism.”  And they call themselves Christians?]

If interfaith events can create unity between contradictory faiths, it must be by the abandonment of the uniqueness of each or one. Moreover, Biblical Christianity is incompatible with any other religion, if we are to keep its unique truths. I believe Paul says it best:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

1 —  in my later call with Sarah, she clarified that the gospel isn’t “whatever you do for the least of these,” and she described the gospel as what I would call the Eschatology of Hope, the good news of resurrection and the kingdom of God becoming present.

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[blog under construction – revised 03/15/12]

I recently learned the Canton (Ohio) Repository has a blogger who is writing about the paranormal on this blogsite.

I am extremely upset with The Repository – supposedly a family-friendly newspaper. Recently they had a contest to select “community bloggers” for their website. They picked this paranormal blogger as one of the winners. Now his garbage is a regular topic on their website, under the title of “Paranormal Journeys.” I am writing this blog not only to express my own anger, but to make others (Christians especially) in the community aware of this abomination.

Inclusion of this blogger on The Repository website is “a slap in the face” to all the born again Christian churches which give business to The Repository by advertising in The Repository “Faith and Values” section each Saturday. I would encourage every attender of these churches to stop subscribing to The Repository and protest loudly until this blogger is removed.

To try to comply with copyright rules, I am copying and pasting several entire “Paranormal Journeys” blogs without omissions, with links to the original source. However, I am adding a bit – I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

Following is the first “Paranormal Journey” blog (click here for the original location.)

Introduction
By Ken Roberts (Feb 29, 2012)

Welcome to the world of the paranormal, Poe, horror and the unknown. By way of introduction let me give you a little background on myself. My wife, Margarita and I own the Warehouse on the Canal building located in downtown Canal Fulton aka; The Warehouse or The Haunted Warehouse. The Edgar Allan Poe Theater is located within the Warehouse and the Warehouse has become Ohio’s Center for Poe, Ghosts and Horror. We created the original ghost tours in the downtown area of Canal Fulton and since 2003 our Warehouse Ghost Tours has attracted people from all over due to our refreshing and unique approach to the paranormal where our customers will witness or experience for themselves a paranormal encounter. Our tours are described as an, “enlightening and spiritual journey “as compared to the standard scary ghost event. We have created what may be the first of its kind, a Team Building exercise through the use of the paranormal and a tourism marketing umbrella called, The Warehouse / Dead and Loving It Tourism. We work with researchers on the paranormal including near death studies and other research institutions that we will be sharing along with an insight as seen through the eyes of a psychic medium with over 50 years of experience, talking about the most often asked questions, food for thought, ghost hunting, some crazy superstitions on ghosts and the customs in Victorian America, Edgar Allan Poe, horror in general, the unknown and much more. It is impossible to talk about the paranormal without the inclusion of a psychic medium. Those who are passionate about the paranormal are just as passionate as those who are about football, basketball, etc. and the same respect should be extended.

We are a Christian based company [what? excuse me? did I read this correctly? this really ticks me off as a born again Christian; how dare this blogger say his company is “Christian based”] and the topic of ghosts is one subject matter that invites opinions and positions of all kinds as well as pushing your hot buttons. We are going to provide both a traditional and a new perspective on the paranormal, so, I hope to hear from you and what you think.

At a later date we will announce a fun pot luck get together that will include full ghost discussions and a ghost experience event at the Warehouse. Depending upon the number of people that might be interested, we will need to address how the invites will be made later on, so, stay connected.

The following “Paranormal Journey” blogs are especially angering to me:

The Mother of all Hot Buttons: Ghosts + Psychic Mediums vs the Bible
By Ken Roberts (Mar 11, 2012)

The mother of all hot buttons:

Ghosts + Psychic Mediums vs. the Bible

It may or may not be what you thought Series

 Part 1:

 Why raise this Hot Button?

 It is impossible to talk about ghosts and a psychic medium without this issue coming up. Rather than to try to put on a veil of uncertainty or to skirt around the issue, I thought that it would be more respectful to bring it out in the open and allow for you to express your opinions either for it or against it.

 Repercussions:

 Depending upon your position taken; if you run across someone that knows who you are, you may get a response anywhere from a thumbs up or a “Thank you” to someone holding up two fingers in the sign of a cross.

 Who am I?

 I am a Catholic and in my younger days I was in the seminary to become a priest. [I’m not surprised by this – many Catholics speak highly of apparitions of  Mary, as well as visions and direct messages from Jesus, saints and angels. These are all occult, demonic counterfeits.] I have been happily married to the same person for over 30 years with two married children and two granddaughters.  I try to respect the rights of all people and sometimes supporting those opinions people can claim that they are contrary to what the Bible is telling them. For the past 30 years we have been continually involved in community and charity work helping to make a difference in the lives of others.

 What does the church say?

 I am only commenting on what the Catholic Church says at this time. In talking to a Monsignor he told me that the Church’s “official” position is that they recognize the presence of “spirit energies” (ghosts)[I’m going to try to locate this “official position” online. The Catholic Church is known for performing exorcisms – but these are exorcisms of demons. I do not give weight to the words of Catholic authorities, but to the Bible. The Bible tells us “familiar spirits” ( so-called “ghosts”) are demonic, fallen angels, not spirits of deceased people.] What is important is not that they exist, but, how you view them or how they will interfere with your relationship with God. [Familiar spirits will interfere with your relationship with God!!! They will deceive you and destroy you by leading you straight down the occult, New Age path to Hell and the Lake of Fire for eternity.] 

Who comes to a Ghost Tour?

 It is people that represent every demographic, cultural and theological background possible. To our specific Warehouse Ghost Tours that we bill as, “an enlightening and spiritual journey”, we attract all walks of life that have included having had priests, nuns, pastors and ministers representing almost every church denomination along with members of their church and congregations including even those that profess to be non-believers in almost everything. They did so without the fear of jeopardizing or questioning their own beliefs, standards and morals. [All I can say, is, these religious people are either nonchristians or disobedient born again Christians. The Bible specifically forbids exploration of/contact with the supernatural realm of familiar spirits.]

 So that there are no misunderstandings whatsoever, there is one position that we take without compromise; under no circumstances should you put anyone or anything before God regardless of what denomination that you belong too. [I’m not sure what this blogger is trying to say here; I think he is trying to say “don’t worship familiar spirits.”]

 Let’s get started:

 When it comes to the paranormal there is no more controversy and heated emotions than when the Bible is quoted; especially, when a psychic medium is mentioned. [I can think of many more controversial and widely debated topics than psychic mediums – such as the existence of Hell, eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire, etc.] When asked most have no idea of where it is in the Bible, but, just assume that it is there because people have told them so. Just for the record, there are multiple mentions in the Bible referencing a medium.

(critique to be continued…)

 

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