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Archive for February, 2013

(revised 02/04/15)

To me, it’s becoming more and more obvious that one of the foundations of a biblically sound church is a biblically sound Bible version. And in a perfect world, I believe we would only have one authoritative Bible version in each language. In the English language, I believe this version should the King James Bible (and its source documents the Textus Receptus New Testament and Masoretic Old Testament).

There are many reasons I believe the King James Bible should be our go-to Bible version. For one, it has stood the test of time, having been used for over 400 years. Also, denominations and churches that switch from the King James Bible to another Bible per-version “that the youth like better and find easier to understand” almost invariably fall prey to various heresies. Today among evangelicals, the primary heresies seem to be Spiritual Formation (Contemplative Spirituality) and Postmodernism (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence teachings).

Note: I’m not speaking for King James only Free Will Baptists here – but I assume their position is very similar: my personal position on the King James Bible closely matches this article by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist David Cloud.

Background of the Free Will Baptist King James only debate

Concerning the dropping of the King James Bible (or the adding of other per-versions alongside it), this push among Free Will Baptists seems to be coming from “the power people” (denominational leaders and professors). But thank the Lord, many of the Free Will Baptist churches throughout the U.S. seem to be resisting this change, to the point of becoming more independent – officially or unofficially – from the national association.

I found background info here, showing that the Free Will Baptists have historically been King James only. (Warning – this comment is provided by one of today’s “progressive” FWB – I don’t recommend his blogs except for research.):

When we, as a denomination, discuss different bible translations, instead of agreeing to disagree, or valuing the diversity of scholarly opinion, we pass resolutions that require national speakers to only use the KJV; and not allow Randall House to reprint any translation but the KJV in their curriculum. [“Scholarly” is a biased term – it seems to me he is saying King James only people are not scholarly, while followers of other Bible per-versions are scholarly.]

A progressive FWB response to the above blog comment provides further insights:

It is true that national speakers have to use the KJV at the national. Although, that is the exception not the rule when it comes to how our broader, denomination wide FWB institutions have approached the KJV issue. Randall House now offers some NKJV and ESV curriculum. Chapel and conference speakers at FWBBC [renamed Welch College] can use differing translations, over the years I’ve heard the NIV, KJV, and every evangelical friendly translation in between used from the chapel pulpit. International missionaries are not required to use translations based on the textus receptus. And, I don’t think (but I could be wrong here) that Home Missions requires church planters to use the KJV. The theological commission has used time at the National for Dr. Pic to teach against the KJV only position. [I’ve provided links to two of Dr. Picirilli’s articles in the Endnotes below this blog.] So, if you look at the total picture, I think the national requirement for speakers is an anomaly – not the rule – when it comes to how our national boards and institutions have approached the bible translation issue. In fact, I think the KJV speaking rule at the national is a good gesture of peacemaking – while, we have moved toward the left in almost every other way on the national level. We certainly do not always denominationally lean right (FWB speaking) on this issue.

Now to a news flash over at Randall House Publications. I have reposted a press release below, which was published in early 2013; click here for the original source and scroll to page 49. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Randall House Publications, Inc. King James Version Statement
From the Randall House Board of Directors:

Several years ago Randall House added translation options for Sunday School curriculum to include King James Version (KJV), plus two reputable  recent translations: New King James Version (NKJV) and English Standard Version (ESV). [Reputable – how so? How can the NKJV and the ESV be reputable, when they are not 100% based on the same source texts as the King James Bible? Namely, the Textus Receptus NT and the Masoretic OT. For articles critiquing the NJKV and ESV, see the Endnotes following this blog.] The English Standard Version was added to the Bible memory options for the 2013 National Association Youth Competitive Activities.  Some have incorrectly concluded that Randall House will cease to publish King James curriculum and materials. Randall House, the publishing arm of the National Association of Free Will Baptists—the only publisher who teaches Free Will Baptist doctrine—will continue using the King James translation, as well as the NKJV and ESV. The Board of Directors (December 2012)[a pretty recent move] has approved the following statement to guide Randall House Publications and employees [who is on this Board of Directors?]:

In keeping with our long held tradition as Free Will Baptists, Randall House Publications continues to hold the widely used King James Version in high regard [but apparently not high enough to use the King James solely] as a translation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages that comprise the Old and New Testaments. We believe God has supernaturally preserved Scripture to enable humanity to find redemption in Jesus Christ. [Historically, the term “preserved” has been used only for the King James Bible and similar translations based on the TR NT and Masoretic OT.] The Bible provides Christians with all that is needed for their faith and practice. For Randall House Publications to take a position that there is only one good English language translation would put Randall House outside of the doctrinal parameters of the Treatise of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. [So far I have found nothing in the Treatise – read here – to say using only the King James Bible does not line up with traditional Free Will Baptist doctrine. On the contrary, Free Will Baptists have used the King James solely for several centuries. Why the sudden supposed change in the denomination’s doctrinal stance?] To make an exclusive claim for the King James Version might call into question the Christian experience of the many believers who lived prior to the 17th century when the King James Version first became available, that of believers who do not speak English, or English-speaking believers who may not use the King James Version. [All three of these reasons are paper-thin arguments. The last reason especially irks me – are they saying all Bible per-versions are equally valid? They fail to say any  per-versions should be avoided. They could have at least warned against the worst per-versions, such as Eugene Peterson’s The Message and the Emerging/Emergent The Voice.]

Note – in this or another blog, I hope to add a discussion of the history of the KJV/TR-only debate in the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCHES AND INDIVIDUALS THAT STILL HOLD TO THE KING JAMES BIBLE ONLY
(as of 02/04/15; I will be adding to and updating this list)

MISSOURI
Bethel Church
Mike Hoggard, Pastor, Bethel Church
Facebook Page
personal ministry website

OHIO
DeGraff Free Will Baptist Church

FOR FURTHER READING

Free Will Baptist articles FOR using the King James Bible only

Degraff Free Will Baptist Church links to articles (the articles cover many subjects; a number of the articles defend the King James Bible)

Southeastern Free Will Baptist College’s statement defending the King James Bible [NOTE 02/04/15 – this is now a BROKEN LINK; I don’t know whether the school has changed its position, or whether they have simply moved the link]

Free Will Baptist articles AGAINST using the King James Bible only

Robert E. Picirilli, KING JAMES ONLY? (Part I)

Robert E. Picirilli, KING JAMES ONLY? (Part II) [besides this and the above link, I’m looking for additional writings by Picirilli regarding this issue]

Wikipedia article on Randall House Publications

Randall House Publications website

“[NAFWB] Leadership Conference Reaffirms the Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Preservation of Scriptures” (scroll down to p. 53 of this document to find the article)[Note this key comment: “These two days have reminded all of us that the Bible is the foundation of Free Will Baptist doctrine, no matter what translation one uses.” This conference’s title is deceptive in my opinion. As mentioned in my blog above, historically the term “preservation” is used only by adherents of the King James Bible only.]

Inspiration and Preservation of God’s Word: 17 Common Questions Answered by Six Free Will Baptist Scholars [ Note that most of the six scholars are against using the King James Bible only. Not to mention that the book is published by the Free Will Baptists’ now multi-version Randall House.]

Critiques of the NKJV

Wikipedia article on the NKJV

List of Google hits on the search string [“NKJV” “KJV”]

David Cloud (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist), What About the New King James Version? (I could not find this article on Bro. Cloud’s website)

James R. Roby (Pastor, DeGraff FWB Church), The “New” KJV is NOT a KJV at All!

Dr. Michael E. Todd, A Deadly Translation” The “New” KJV

The NKJV, is it a KJV?

Note – I found many additional critiques of the NKJV; I hope to add links to these critiques here, as I have time.

Critiques of the ESV

Wikipedia article on the ESV

List of Google hits  on the search string [“ESV” “KJV”]

Mark Andrew, English Standard Version (ESV) is examined against the Majority Text, King James Version (KJV)

Will Kinney, The English Standard Version (ESV)

Dr. Ken Matto, The ESV and its attack on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ

David J. Stewart, The Damnable English Standard Version

Dr. Terry Watkins, The Truth About The English SUBStandard Version

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(revised 04/20/14)

For quite awhile now, I have been reading the literature (and visiting the churches) of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB). I would point out that they span an increasingly wide variety of doctrinal positions, some more biblical than others. I am especially impressed by IFB David Cloud and churches that take his positions. Some of the most obvious of these views are: holding to the King James Bible (and the Textus Receptus NT and Masoretic OT), opposing Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), etc.

However, coming from a Wesleyan Holiness background, there are some beliefs of mine which do not quite match those of IFB churches, including those in Bro. Cloud’s circle. One of these which I hold is the Arminian position of conditional eternal security. So I was fascinated when I recently came across an association/denomination called the Free Will Baptists. This is how Wikipedia begins its article on the Free Will Baptists:

Free Will Baptist is a denomination of churches that share a common history, name, and an acceptance of the Arminian theology of free grace, free salvation, and free will.

Wow! From what I’ve researched so far, this sounds like the kind of association/denomination I’d love to attend and/or join.

Some background: I left the Evangelical Friends Church International aka EFCI years ago, and have vowed I will never become an EFCI member again. Today the EFCI is continuing to back Spiritual Formation’s heretical contemplative Richard Foster, who got his start in the EFCI. Also, the EFCI continues to be heavily involved in heretical Emerging/Emergent teachings – in spite of repeated warnings.

Note – just as I am beginning to research the Free Will Baptists, I am discovering that various Free Will Baptist churches, schools and individuals (including many in high leadership positions) are drifting away from separatist fundamentalism, the KJB, etc. They, like the EFCI and many other evangelical denominations, are having more and more “itching ears” for the heresies of Spiritual Formation and the Emerging/Emergent church movements. Thus, I can only recommend Free Will Baptist churches and schools which are continuing to hold strongly to separatist fundamentalist teachings and practices. The most obvious trait I’ve found in the separatist fundamentalist churches and schools, is that they continue to hold exclusively to the KJB. Thus, in this and future blogs I write about separatist fundamentalist Free Will Baptist churches and schools, I plan to simply refer to them as KJB Free Will Baptists.

I should mention a few distinctives of the Free Will Baptists. I am very impressed with some of these distinctives; I have mixed feelings regarding others. I hope to explore Free Will Baptist doctrines in other blogs.  Following is a good summary of Free Will Baptist distinctives/differences from other denominations, found here:

Distinctive

 There are a few doctrinal positions on which Free Will Baptists hold a distinctive position, even from other groups with whom we may enjoy close fellowship and cooperation. So the question often arises, “What’s the difference between Free Will Baptists and..

Southern Baptists, Missionary Baptists, or Independent Baptists? –

 We believe the Scriptures give consistent emphasis to the responsibility every Christian has to continue to trust Christ throughout his life (Hebrews 3:6, 14, 10:23). Contrary to what some say Free Will Baptists do affirm salvation by grace through faith only, and further insist that the faith that saves is an on-going and active faith. (John 10:1-21). Further, Free Will Baptists believe that there are sufficient warnings in scripture that suggest the possibility that one may forfeit the faith (Galatians 5:4, Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:29), though such a forfeiture is not probable. We do not believe that the forfeiture of the faith is easy, nor sudden, but do affirm the truth that if such state is reached, there remains no more sacrifice (Hebrews 6:6). Consequently, that person who forfeits his faith is irreversibly lost.

Nazarene, Methodist, Holiness Groups? These groups are generally called Wesleyan , the founder of which was the 19th century Methodist Evangelist, John Wesley. A key distinctive of their  theology is the teaching that a person may experience a second, definite work of grace, at which time the believer reaches a point of entire sanctification, and from that moment forward, the believer is capable of living a sinless life. We believe, on the other hand, that the Holy spirit is at work in the believer’s life to progressively mold him into the image of Christ, and that this process will not be completed until we reach eternity.

Assembly of God, Charismatic/Pentecostal Churches? We believe that the sign gifts mentioned in the historical record if the early church (the book of Acts) were used by God for the unique purpose of validating the authority of the Apostles, through whom He transmitted the Holy scriptures (I Corinthians 12-14). Do we believe that these gifts have ceased altogether? No, we do however assert that with the completion of the New Testament canon, the need for, and exercise of these sign gifts faded. We do not seek a Baptism of the Spirit sub-sequent to salvation, nor support the use of tongues or other sign gifts as evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Christian life.

Presbyterian, Reformed Churches? Rather than affirming the predestination of specific individuals for grace, as the Reformed Churches do, we believe that when acted upon by the Holy Spirit, and individual as the freedom of will to accept or rejects God’s offer of salvation. We do not believe, as we are often accused, in a works oriented salvation, affirming with Paul that faith is not a work (Ephesians 2:8-9). Further, we agree that sinful man is dead in sin, that is, he is unresponsive and insensitive to the work and presence of God unless and until he is acted upon from the outside by the Holy Ghost. Once the individual has experienced this work of grace by the Holy Ghost, it is given that he should persevere in that faith until the end. We hold that whosoever will may exercise his God given freedom of the will to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and in believing, receive everlasting life. (John 3:16)

I have reposted the current (as of 02/18/13) Wikipedia article on the Free Will Baptists below. Click here for the original source of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments in [bolded orange in brackets].

Free Will Baptist

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Free Will Baptist is a denomination of churches that share a common history, name, and an acceptance of the Arminian theology of free grace, free salvation, and free will. Free Will Baptists share similar soteriological views with General Baptists, Separate Baptists and some United Baptists. Evangelism and the self government of the local church are highly valued. The denomination remains relatively small-town demographically and is especially strong in the southern United States and Midwest, although it was once also strong in New England. The National Association of Free Will Baptists reports just over 250,000 members. The National Association’s offices are located in the Nashville, Tennessee neighborhood of Antioch. The denomination operates a regionally accredited college, Welch College (formerly Free Will Baptist Bible College), in Nashville; North American and International Missions agencies; and a publishing house, Randall House Publications. Smaller groups unaffiliated with the National Association are the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, the United American Free Will Baptists (African American), and well as several local associations in the South.

Theology and practice

Free Will Baptist congregations believe the Bible is the very word of God and without error in all that it affirms. Free Will Baptist Doctrine holds to the traditional Arminian position, based on the belief in a General Atonement, that it is possible to commit apostasy, or willfully reject one’s faith. Faith is the condition for salvation, hence Free Will Baptists hold to “conditional eternal security.” An individual is “saved by faith and kept by faith.” In support of this concept, some Free Will Baptists refer to the Greek word translated “believeth” found in John 3:16 KJV. This is a continuous action verb, and can thus be read, “..that whosoever believes and continues to believe shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The concept is not of someone sinning occasionally and thus accidentally ending up “not saved,” but instead of someone “repudiating” his or her faith in Christ. [1] Thus “once saved always saved” is rejected by the denomination. Many Free Will Baptists believe that once a person has truly turned from his or her faith, it is impossible for that individual to return to Christ(Hebrews 6:4-6) and the person will have reached a point in which God will have ceased to deal with his or her heart, disabling the individual from even desiring to repent (John 6:44, Genesis 6:3,Romans 1:21,28). Thus Free Will Baptist do not believe that an individual can oscillate between being lost and saved. There exists some Christian denominations which believe that salvation can be lost and found repeatedly; Free Will Baptists do not fall into this grouping. Free Will Baptists believe that once a believer has abandoned his faith and has lost his or her salvation, there is no more hope for that person. The book of Hebrews offers many supporting verses to this concept, particularly chapters 2:1; 3:6,12-14; 4:1,11; 6:4-8,11,12 & 10:23-39 where the Apostle Paul consistently warns that one must “hold fast” till the end.

On Perseverance of the Saints from the official Treatise:

“There are strong grounds to hope that the truly regenerate will persevere unto the end, and be saved, through the power of divine grace which is pledged for their support; but their future obedience and final salvation are neither determined nor certain, since through infirmity and manifold temptations they are in danger of falling; and they ought, therefore, to watch and pray lest they make shipwreck of their faith and be lost.”

Free Will Baptists observe at least three ordinances: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Washing of the Saints’ Feet, a rite occurring among some other evangelical groups but not practiced by the majority of Baptist denominations.

Free Will Baptist congregations hold differing views on eschatology, with some holding premillennial and others amillennial views. Churches advocate (voluntary) tithing, totally abstaining from alcoholic beverages, and not working on Sunday, the “Christian Sabbath.”

Historical sketch

Free Will Baptists can be traced to General Baptists from England who settled in the American colonies in the late seventeenth century. The first Baptists, who originated with the ministry of Thomas Helwys near London in 1611, were General Baptists. That is, they believed that the atonement of Jesus Christ was “general” (for all) rather than “particular” (only for the elect). They were Arminian in doctrine.

Benjamin Laker was an English Baptist who arrived in colonial Carolina as early as 1685. Laker had been associated with Thomas Grantham, an illustrious General Baptist theologian and writer, and had signed the 1663 edition of the General Baptists’ Standard Confession of Faith. The earliest Free Will Baptists in America developed from English General Baptists in Carolina, who were dubbed “Freewillers” by their enemies and later assumed the name.

Two distinct branches of Free Will Baptists developed in America. The first and earliest was the General Baptist movement described above, known as the Palmer movement in North Carolina, from which the majority of modern-day Free Will Baptists have their origin. The later movement was the Randall movement, which arose in the late eighteenth century in New Hampshire. These two groups developed independently of each other.

The “Palmer” Line

In 1702, a disorganized group of General Baptists in Carolina wrote a request for help to the General Baptist Association in England. Though no help was forthcoming, Paul Palmer, whose wife Johanna was the stepdaughter of Benjamin Laker, would labor among these people 25 years later, founding the first “Free Will” Baptist church in Chowan, North Carolina in 1727. Palmer organized at least three churches in North Carolina.

His labors, though important, were short. Leadership would descend to Joseph Parker, William Parker, Josiah Hart, William Sojourner and others. Joseph Parker was part of the organization of the Chowan church and ministered among the Carolina churches for over 60 years. From one church in 1727, they grew to over 20 churches by 1755. After 1755, missionary labors conducted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association converted most of these churches to the Particular Baptist positions of unconditional election and limited atonement. By 1770, only 4 churches and 4 ministers remained of the General Baptist persuasion. By the end of 18th century, these churches were commonly referred to as “Free Will Baptist”, and this would later be referred to as the “Palmer” line of Free Will Baptists. The churches in the “Palmer” line organized various associations and conferences, and finally organized a General Conference in 1921. Many Baptists from Calvinistic Baptist backgrounds, primarily Separate Baptists, became Free Will Baptists in the nineteenth century.

The “Randall” Line

While the movement in the South was struggling, a new movement rose in the North through the work of Benjamin Randall (1749–1808).

Randall initially united with the Particular or Regular Baptists in 1776, but broke with them in 1779 due to their strict views on predestination. In 1780, Randall formed a “Free” or “Freewill” (Randall would combine the words “free” and “will” into a single word) Baptist church in New Durham, New Hampshire. By 1782 twelve churches had been founded, and they organized a Quarterly Meeting. In 1792 a Yearly Meeting was organized.

The “Randall” line of Freewill Baptists grew quickly. However, in 1911, the majority of the Randall Line churches (and all the denominational property) merged with the Northern Baptist Convention. Those churches that did not merge and remained Freewill Baptist joined with other Free Will Baptists in the Southwest and Midwest to organize the Cooperative General Association of Free Will Baptists in 1916.

The Union of the Lines

Fraternal relations had existed between the northern and southern Free Will Baptists, but the question of slavery, and later the Civil War, prevented any formal union until the 20th century. On November 5, 1935, representatives of the General Conference (Palmer) and the Cooperative General Association (a mixture of Randall and Palmer elements west of the Mississippi) met in Nashville, Tennessee to unite and organize the National Association of Free Will Baptists. The majority of Free Will Baptist churches organized under this umbrella, which remains the largest of the Free Will Baptist groups to this day.

Free Will Baptist Bodies

Other major Free Will Baptist groups include:

  • Original Free Will Baptist Convention – a North Carolina based body of Free Will Baptists that was organized in 1913 and initially joined the National Association of Free Will Baptists, but split from the National Association in 1961 due to some inner differences. The Convention comprised the majority of North Carolina-based Free Will Baptist churches, though a minority would split from the North Carolina state convention and maintain affiliation with the National Association. The Convention also maintains mission activity in eight countries – Philippines, Mexico, Bulgaria, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Liberia, and Guinea.
  • United American Free Will Baptist Church – the largest body of African-American Free Will Baptist churches, organized in 1901 and headquartered in Kinston, North Carolina.
  • United American Free Will Baptist Conference – a body of African-American Free Will Baptist churches that withdrew from the United American Free Will Baptist Church in 1968; headquartered in Lakeland, Florida.
  • Unaffiliated Free Will Baptist local associations – a number of local Free Will Baptist associations remain independent of the National Association, Original FWB Convention, and the two United American bodies. Researchers have identified 10 such associations, though there may be more. The unaffiliated associations of Free Will Baptists include over 300 churches with an estimated 22,000 members. They have no organization beyond the “local” level.
    • Eastern Stone (TN)
    • French Broad (NC)
    • Jack’s Creek (NC,TN) Has member churches in these states according to the 2008 Minutes of the Jack’s Creek Free Will Baptist Association
    • John-Thomas (NC,KY,WVA,VA)
    • Mt. Mitchell (NC)
    • Original Grand River (OK)
    • River Valley Association (AR)
    • Stone Association of Central Indiana (IN)
    • Toe River (NC,TN, & SC)
    • Western (NC)
    • Western Stone (TN)

Notes

  1. ^ [1].

Sources

  • A Free Will Baptist Handbook: Heritage, Beliefs, and Ministries, by J. Matthew Pinson
  • A History of Original Free Will Baptists, by Michael Pelt
  • Baptists Around the World, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr.
  • Dictionary of Baptists in America, Bill J. Leonard, editor
  • Encyclopedia of Religion in the South, Samuel S. Hill, editor
  • Sub-Groups Within the Baptist Denomination (in the United States), by R. L. Vaughn
  • The Free Will Baptists in History, by William F. Davidson

External links

Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article [[s:The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Baptists, Freewill|]].

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(revised 05/29/13)

The Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) was once staunchly born again, “separatist fundamentalist” Wesleyan Holiness. Yet today the EFCI treats heretical Emerging/Emergents like Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Brian McLarenLeonard Sweet, Randy Woodley, etc. as their “darlings.” All of these heretics have taught and/or are teaching at George Fox University and/or George Fox Evangelical Seminary.

I came across an excellent 3-part series of articles exposing the blasphemous “theology” held by a number of Emerging/Emerging individuals, including most of the individuals above.  I have reposted this article below.  I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

———————————————————————————————–

Click here for the original site of Part One reposted below.

(Part One)
What are the Emergent Church’s ’95 Theses’?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

The Emergent Church movement promotes itself as a “new Reformation” with its own “95 theses” in a book by Emergent guru Brian McLaren. Despite their claims of charting the way forward for the church, the architects of this theological Tower of Babel are bent on taking the church back into pre-Reformation darkness.

Part one of a series.

Since the turn of the new millennium, the Emergent Church movement has been grabbing headlines as the darling of the religious media. Its influence has spread like wildfire in mainline liberal, Evangelical, and Roman Catholic seminaries alike.

A New Luther?

In 2004, Emergent Church guru1 Brian McLaren published what was hailed as a landmark book called A Generous Orthodoxy.2 Phyllis Tickle, who according to her website is “a lay eucharistic minister and lector in the Episcopal church,”3 wrote the foreword, in which she said:

Religion is like a spyglass through which we look to determine our course, our place in the order of things, and to sight that toward where we are going. On a clear day, no sailor needs such help, save for passing views of a far shore. But on a stormy sea, with all landmarks hidden in obscuring clouds, the spyglass becomes the instrument of hope, the one thing on board that, held to the eye long enough, will find the break in the clouds and discover once more the currents and shores of safe passage. Ours are stormy seas just now; and I believe as surely as Martin Luther held the spyglass for sixteenth-century Europe, so Brian McLaren holds it here for us in the twenty-first..

…The emerging church has the potential of being to North American Christianity what Reformation Protestantism was to European Christianity. And I am sure that the generous orthodoxy defined in the following pages is our 95 theses. Both are strong statements, strongly stated and, believe me, not lightly taken in so public a forum as this. All I can add to them in defense is the far simpler statement: Here I stand.

So, on that basis, the one thing that remains is to invite you to join thousands and thousands of others who have already read these words and subsequently assumed them as the theses of a new kind of Christianity and the foundational principles for a new Beloved Community.4

A “Beloved Community”?

The “Beloved Community” of which Tickle speaks is a term coined by pseudo-Christian philosopher Josiah Royce (1855-1916). In his 1913 book, The Problem of Christianity, Royce said that the doctrine of the incarnation is not about the coming of God in the person of Jesus Christ, but the incarnation of God in the visible church. He added that “the visible church, rather than the person of the founder [Jesus Christ], ought to be viewed as the central idea of Christianity.” To Royce, the “problem of Christianity” was Jesus Christ.

Royce also said that the visible church forms a “Universal Community of Interpretation” that redefines “Christianity” to suit the conditions of the times. Tellingly, Royce’s book was recently republished by the Catholic University of America, an institution of the greatest chameleon-church on earth.5

Confused and Proud of It

McLaren is clearly comfortable in the company of people like Tickle and Royce. The full title of McLaren’s “95 theses of the Emergent Church” is quite a mouthful:

A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional – Evangelical – Post-Protestant – Liberal/Conservative – Mystical/Poetic – Biblical – Charismatic/Contemplative – Fundamentalist/Calvinist – Anabaptist/Anglican – Methodist – Catholic – Green – Incarnational – Depressed-Yet-Hopeful – Emergent – Unfinished Christian

Rather than being ashamed of his confused state of mind, McLaren wears this complex and contradictory title proudly, and uses each of the descriptions in the lengthy title of his book as the title of a chapter within it. McLaren presents himself as the guru of a “new Reformation” built not on orthodoxy, but on what another Emergent spokesman has called “orthoparadoxy”.

A followup 2007 book, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, authored by McLaren and twenty-six other Emergent thought leaders, is an equally confused and confusing theological Tower of Babel. Its architects and builders are bent on not simply tearing down the Reformation, but on taking the church back into pre-Reformation darkness. In the process (lest a Scripture-driven Christian have any doubts) McLaren and his fellow Emergents show us clearly that they are not Christians at all.

How Do Emergents Measure Up?

How does this “new Reformation” compare to that of the 16th century, which freed Biblical Christianity from the shroud of Romanism? What of the five solas that were the rallying cries of that Reformation –

  • Sola Scriptura: Our Authority is Scripture Alone
  • Sola Gratia: Salvation is by Grace Alone
  • Solus Christus: Salvation is Through Christ Alone
  • Sola Fide: Justification is by Faith Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria: The Glory Belongs to God Alone

Emergents say that adherence to such fundamentals is “a constant reminder that religion can be a source of chaos and confusion.”6 But who is it that is really living in the realm of chaos and confusion – those whom the Emergents deride as “fundamentalists”, or Emergents who have exalted themselves against the knowledge of God? In our next article, we shall begin comparing the theological currents flowing through the Emergent Church with the Reformation’s great and fundamental statements of the Biblical faith “once for all delivered to the saints.”

References:

1. We use the term “guru” advisedly; McLaren and other Emergent Church leaders position themselves as spiritual advisers imparting transcendental, higher knowledge – higher than the Word of God.

2. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional-Evangelical-Post-Protestant-Liberal/Conservative-Mystical/Poetic-Biblical-Charismatic/Contemplative-Fundamentalist/Calvinist-Anabaptist/Anglican-Methodist-Catholic-Green-Incarnational-Depressed-Yet-Hopeful-Emergent-Unfinished Christian (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004).

3. Her website, phyllistickle.org, notes that she was the “founding editor of the Religion Department of Publishers Weekly, the international journal of the book industry, is frequently quoted in print sources like USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times as well as in electronic media like PBS, NPR, The Hallmark Channel, and innumerable blogs and web sites. Tickle is an authority on religion in America and a much sought after lecturer on the subject….Tickle is a founding member of The Canterbury Roundtable, and serves now, as she has in the past, on a number of advisory and corporate boards.”

4. A Generous Orthodoxy, pages 11-12.

5. Josiah Royce, The Problem of Christianity, 1913, republished in 2001 by Catholic University of America Press, pages 43 and 340.

6. Barry Taylor, “Converting Christianity” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), page 165.

Click here for the original site of Part Two reposted below.

(Part Two)
What does the Emergent Church movement believe about Sola Scriptura?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

Emergent Church leaders will tell you they are uncertain of most things. In fact, they wear ambiguity like a badge of honor. But of one thing they are certain: The Bible is not the inspired, infallible, inerrant, uniquely authoritative Word of God.

This is part two of a series. Read part one.

As we continue our series, “Was the Reformation a Mistake?” we take up this question: How does the Emergent Church movement’s so-called “new Reformation” compare to the one that freed Biblical Christianity from the shroud of Romanism in the 16th century? What of the five solas that were rallying cries of that Reformation? –

  • Sola Scriptura: Our Authority is Scripture Alone
  • Sola Gratia: Salvation is by Grace Alone
  • Solus Christus: Salvation is Through Christ Alone
  • Sola Fide: Justification is By Faith Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria: The Glory Belongs to God Alone

We shall let Emergent spokesmen answer for themselves.

Inerrancy is “Foreign to the Bible’s Vocabulary”

What do Emergent Church leaders say is the nature of the Bible? Emergent guru Brian McLaren says that “the Bible is “an inspired gift from God – a unique collection of literary artifacts”.1 Emergent leader Doug Pagitt agrees with McLaren, hinting at what they mean by “inspired”. The “history of the Christian faith,” Pagitt says, is that “the Scriptures come from and inform the church.”2 In other words, they do not come from God in the sense of verbal, plenary, authoritative inspiration spoken of in passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21.

McLaren is even more explicit. He says that “the purpose of Scripture is to equip God’s people for good works.”3 The italics are his. McLaren and other Emergents repeat this statement often in their writings, almost as a mantra. But there is never a word about Scripture’s telling mankind how to become one of God’s people, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Throughout their writings, Emergents’ assumption seems to be that everybody is already one of “God’s people.” You just have to get busy doing “good works.”

But then, after stating that “the purpose of Scripture is to equip God’s people for good works” McLaren follows immediately with this:

Shouldn’t a simple statement like this be far more important than statements with words foreign to the Bible’s vocabulary about itself (inerrant, authoritative, literal, revelatory, objective, absolute, propositional, etc.)?4

Just how “foreign” does McLaren think these words are to Scripture? He does not hesitate to tell us, in a book with one of the most ironic titles ever: Adventures in Missing the Point, co-authored by McLaren and so-called “evangelical left” spokesman Tony Campolo. McLaren and Campolo’s title reflects their fatuous belief that the Bible-believing Christian church has “missed the point” on just about everything (and, of course, Emergents have “gotten the point”). “The Bible is an inspired gift from God – a unique collection of literary artifacts,”5 McLaren says. But it is not the inspired, infallible, inerrant, propositional, revelatory, absolute, objective, Word of God. What’s more, McLaren asserts, “not even one-hundredth of one percent of the Bible” presents “objective information about God.”6

Those are some pretty absolute statements from a man who claims that little, if anything, is certain. But McLaren is just getting warmed up. The Christian Church, says McLaren, has misrepresented the Bible as something containing “universal laws” – “We claimed that the Bible was easy to understand” – “We presented the Bible as a repository of sacred propositions.” All of that was wrong, he says. And, echoing the true position of the Roman Catholic church, McLaren laments that “we mass produced the Bible” and gave Christians the impression that they could interpret it for themselves.7

Not Orthodoxy, But Orthoparadoxy

According to Emergents, how are we to approach this “inspired” but humanly-originated, non-inerrant, non-infallible, non-authoritative Bible? Emergent spokesman Dwight J. Friesen, a professor of practical theology at Mars Hill Graduate School (Seattle) and a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches, says that Christ was not interested in orthodoxy but in “a full and flourishing human life.”8 What must develop, says Friesen, is not orthodoxy – correct teaching – but a piece of Emergent doubletalk called orthoparadoxy, “correct paradox.” Friesen writes:

Orthoparaxody represents a conversational theological method that seeks to graciously embrace difference while bringing the fullness of a differentiated social-self to the other. Through the methodology of orthoparadoxy, competing ideas, practices, and hermeneutics are seen as an invitation to conversational engagement rather than as something to refute, reform, or revise.”9

“Current theological methods that often stress agreement/disagreement, win/loss, good/bad, orthodox/heresy, and the like set people up for constant battles to convince and convert the other to their way of believing.”10

“Orthoparadox theology is less concerned with creating “once for all” doctrinal statements or dogmatic claims and is more interested in holding competing truth claims in right tension..Orthoparadox theology requires a dynamic understanding of the Holy Spirit.”11

“[S]ee conversation starters where you once saw theological disagreement.”12

This is how we must approach the Bible, according to Brian McLaren:

“Drop any affair you may have with Certainty, Proof, Argument.The ultimate Bible study or sermon in recent decades yielded clarity. That clarity, unfortunately, was often boring – and probably not that accurate, either, since reality is seldom clear, but usually fizzy and mysterious.”13

“Find things to do with the Bible other than read and study it” [and McLaren suggests several that are forms of medieval, mystical meditation commended by the Roman Catholic church].14

“In the recent past we generally began our apologetic by arguing for the Bible’s authority, then used the Bible to prove our other points. In the future we’ll present the Bible less like evidence in a court case and more like works of art in an art gallery.”15

“In the recent past we talked a lot about absolute truth, attempting to prove abstract propositions about God (for instance, proving the sovereignty of God).” [That, McLaren asserts, is passé in the postmodern world.]16

Protestants Have the Bible All Wrong

According to McLaren, Protestants have gotten it all wrong about the Bible, using propositional truth, right and wrong, to “lay low” their Catholic “brethren” –

“Protestants have paid more attention to the Bible than any other group, but sadly, much of their Bible study has been undertaken to fuel their efforts to prove themselves right and others wrong (and therefore worthy of protest). the Bible does not yield its best resources to people who approach it seeking ammunition with which to lay their [Catholic] brethren low. How many Protestants can’t pick up their Bibles without hearing arguments play in their heads on every page, echoes of the polemical preachers they have heard since childhood? How much Bible study is, therefore, an adventure in missing the point?”17

Warmed-Over Neo-Orthodoxy

Students of church history will recognize much of Emergent Church thinking on the Bible as the warmed-over 20th-century neo-orthodoxy that destroyed most mainline Protestant churches as well as many conservative ones. Emergents are following in the insolent footsteps of Karl Barth, Rudolph Bultmann, Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich and others, who in turn were influenced by early 19th-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, whose great gift to theology was to assert that there is no such thing as objective truth.

One of the main reasons the Emergent Church movement is finding acceptance among Evangelicals is that few Evangelicals are students of church history. As such, they are condemned to repeat the deadly mistakes of the past by embracing a theology of nonsense that leads souls to Hell.

Acceptance in Reputedly Conservative Seminaries

The Emergent Church movement is spreading a new wave of spiritual poison through Christian academia. The fact that Emergents are welcomed on the faculties and in the classrooms of openly liberal seminaries is no surprise. But the response to the Emergent movement in the majority of reputedly more conservative Evangelical Bible colleges and seminaries is also friendly. It ranges from favorable classroom exposure to outright advocacy. Seminaries that are falling into the Emergent web include Dallas Theological Seminary, Houghton College, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Biblical Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, Erskine College and Seminary, Biola University, Taylor Seminary, and most Southern Baptist schools.

It only takes a a few years of exposure to false teaching for young minds to become the generation that will carry the poison out of the seminaries and colleges, into the pulpits, and into the pews.

Next: Emergents on Salvation

References:

1. Brian D. McLaren and Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), page 75.

2. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, editors, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope: Key Leaders Offer an Inside Look (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), page 171.

3. Brian D. McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional-Evangelical-Post-Protestant-Liberal/Conservative-Mystical/Poetic-Biblical-Charismatic/Contemplative-Fundamentalist/Calvinist-Anabaptist/Anglican-Methodist-Catholic-Green-Incarnational-Depressed-Yet-Hopeful-Emergent-Unfinished Christian (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004), page 183.

4. A Generous Orthodoxy, page 183.

5. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 75.

6. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 262.

7. Adventures in Missing the Point, pages 76-77.

8. Dwight J. Friesen, “Orthoparadoxy: Emerging Hope for Embracing Difference” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, page 204.

9. Friesen, page 207.

10. Friesen, page 208.

11. Friesen, page 209.

12. Friesen, page 212.

13. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 84.

14. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 85.

15. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 101.

16. Adventures in Missing the Point, page 102.

17. A Generous Orthodoxy, page 138

————————————————————————————————

Click here for the original site of Part Three reposted below.

(Part  Three)
What does the Emergent Church movement believe about the Reformation solas of salvation?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott

As we continue our series, we examine the movement’s “new Reformation” teachings versus the salvation solas of the 16th century Protestant Reformation:

  • Sola Gratia: Salvation is by grace alone
  • Solus Christus: Salvation is through Christ alone
  • Sola Fide: Justification is by faith alone
Once again, we shall let Emergent spokesmen answer for themselves.
This is part three of the series. Read part two.

An Insult to Their Intelligence

The writings of Emergent Church spokesmen contain many recurring themes, but one is especially prominent: The Biblical doctrine of personal salvation from sin and wrath by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, is an insult to their intelligence.

Emergent Church spokeswoman Nanette Sawyer is an ordained Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) minister with degrees from both Harvard and McCormick divinity schools. Her story is typical:

My explicit rejection of Christianity happened when our family minister implicitly rejected me. When I was a preteen, he visited our house, spoke with my parents, then pulled me aside, the eldest, for a chat of our own. He asked me if I was a Christian. This is a very interesting question to ask a child who has been raised in a Christian household. Being asked such a question I was, in essence, being told that I might not be a Christian. I responded that I didn’t know. The conversation went downhill from there and ended with my saying that I guessed I wasn’t a Christian. He told me that I had to believe [on Jesus Christ as Savior] to be a Christian and I didn’t believe it.

After that, I spent a good fifteen years defining myself as not Christian. Some of the things that I had been taught in Christian contexts, both explicitly and implicitly, were unacceptable to me. I was taught, for example, that there are good people and bad people, Christian people and non-Christian people, saved people and damned people, and we know who they are.

…I was taught that I was inherently bad, and that I would be judged for that. I was told that the only way out of the judgment was to admit how bad I was.

Thinking back on that pivotal interaction with my childhood minister, I believe the whole conversation missed the mark in a big way. He was defining Christian identity as assent to a list of certain beliefs, and he was defining Christian community as those people who concur with those beliefs.In asking me if I was a Christian, and accepting [my] answer, he essentially told me that I wasn’t part of the community. I wasn’t in; I was out.1

Insulted by this, Sawyer says that she later became a “Christian” through Hindu meditation and the medieval, mystical Roman Catholic practice of “centering prayer” – all while a student at Harvard, taking a master’s degree in comparative world religions. She then tells of her experience while attending the services of a liberal Presbyterian church in Boston:

The minister there invited me into the community by serving me communion without asking if I was a Christian. He didn’t ask, “Are you one of us?” He didn’t say, “Do you believe?” He simply said, “Nanette, the body of Christ, given for you.”2

On this basis, Sawyer says, she became a “Christian” and was subsequently ordained as a minister in the apostate PCUSA.

With all this background, you may understand the reason my statement of faith, my personal credo, written in seminary and required for ordination in the Presbyterian Church [USA], included the line: “I believe that all people are children of God, created and loved by God, and that God’s compassionate grace is available to us at all times.”

Imagine my surprise when a particular pastor challenged me on this point. He suggested that “children of God” is a biblical phrase, and that I was using it unbiblically. He believed that not all people are children of God, only Christians.3

Imagine a pastor having the nerve to say that to be a “child of God” is a doctrinal term with a specific Biblical meaning! How thoroughly un-postmodern can you get? Sawyer recounts her shocked reaction to this intellectual baboon: “I focused on not letting my jaw hit the floor.” She continues:

So what about the Bible on this question of the children of God? Is it unbiblical to call all people the children of God? It is true that there are many places in the New Testament that talk about the children of God as the followers of Jesus. But it is not true that this must lead us to the kind of arrogance that asserts that non-Christians are not children of God..

Even if we could answer the question of who is and isn’t a child of God, it wouldn’t help us be better followers of Jesus; it would only help divide people into more categories.4

Sawyer goes on to misread three New Testament passages to support her contention that even the Bible itself is “undermining such an exclusionary claim.”5

Rather than submitting to the Gospel teaching that only those who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior have the authority to be called the children of God (John 1:12), Nanette Sawyer, like most of her fellow Emergents, takes refuge in the theology of paradox. Those who believe the Bible’s categorical, propositional truth claims are arrogant and superficial, she says. They have not ascended to the lofty realms of higher knowledge that can only be attained by embracing paradox:

There is a beauty in paradox when it comes to talking about things of ultimate concern. Paradox works against our tendency to stay superficial in our faith, or to rest on easy answers or categorical thinking. It breaks apart our categories by showing the inadequacy of them and by pointing to a reality larger than us, the reality of gloria, of light, of beyond-the-beyond. I like to call it paradoxology – the glory of paradox, paradox-doxology – which takes us somewhere we wouldn’t be capable of going if we thought we had everything all wrapped up, if we thought we had attained full comprehension. The commitment to embracing the paradox and resisting the impulse to categorize people (ourselves included) is one of the ways we follow Jesus into that larger mysterious reality of light and love.

The Gnostics, who sought to destroy the Biblical faith of the early church by leading it to a “higher” mystical knowledge beyond Scripture, would be proud of Nanette Sawyer. So would the church of Rome, whether 16th- or 21st-century.

Like Nanette Sawyer, Brian McLaren also takes umbrage at the Bible’s doctrine of salvation:

.I used to believe that Jesus’ primary focus was on saving me as an individual.For that reason I often spoke of Jesus as my “personal Savior” and urged others to believe in Jesus in the same way.6

Through the years.I became less and less comfortable with being restricted to the “personal Savior” gospel.7

McLaren says that his rejection of the Biblical Gospel is rooted in his rejection of the Bible’s teaching of eternal punishment in Hell for those who do not receive Christ as Savior. He says that “radical rethinking” of the doctrine of Hell is needed.8 Since McLaren can’t stand Jesus’ own words on the subject (He spoke of Hell far more than of Heaven), he dares to put these words in Christ’s mouth:

“I am here to save you.not by telling you to.focus on salvation from Hell after this life (as some people are going to do in My name) – but by giving you permission to start your participation in God’s mission right now, right where you are, even as oppressed people. The opportunity to start living in this new and better way is available to you right now: The kingdom of God is at hand!”9

The audacity of Emergents in suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) seemingly knows no bounds.

Given these and other statements by Emergent Church leaders, it seems almost ludicrous to compare their mindset with the salvation solas of the Reformation, but we shall do so, because it further reveals the depths of their darkness.

Grace Alone?

The term “grace” does not appear often in Emergent writings, and the reason is simple: Since everyone is a “child of God,” no one needs the kind of grace of which the Bible speaks. When Emergents do speak of “grace” at all, it is not as the basis of salvation from sin through Christ. In the Emergent lexicon, grace means inclusiveness. And that is the basis on which, they claim, God is saving society and the environment through the moral example of Christ.

Emergent spokesman Samir Selmanovic, who grew up as a Muslim, became a Seventh Day Adventist pastor, and now serves on the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches, writes a chapter in The Emergent Manifesto of Hope called “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness.” His theme is that everyone, “Christian” and non-Christian, is going to be “saved” by the grace of inclusiveness:

For the last two thousand years, Christianity has granted itself a special status among religions. An emerging generation of Christians is simply saying, “No more special treatment. In the Scripture God has established a criteria [sic] of truth, and it has to do with the fruits of a gracious life” (see Matt. 7:15-23; John 15:5-8; 17:6-26). This is unnerving for many of us who have based our identity on a notion of possessing the truth in an abstract form. But God’s table is welcoming to all who seek, and if any religion is to win, may it be the one that produces people who are the most loving, the most humble, the most Christlike. Whatever the meaning of “salvation” and “judgment,” we Christians are going to be saved by grace, like everyone else, and judged by our works, like everyone else.”10

By using such twisted definitions of “grace” Brian McLaren is able to assert that:

The average Roman Catholic today (at least, among those I meet) is increasingly clear about God’s grace being a free gift, not something that can be earned or merited. It’s hard to keep protesting against [such] people.11

On the basis of such an inclusive “grace”, McLaren says that we need to redefine – actually deconstruct – what it means to be a Protestant, and come together in an all-embracing Christendom:

“What if we were to redefine protest as ‘pro-testifying,’ pro meaning ‘for’ and testify meaning ‘telling our story’? . . . Both Catholics and Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox too, can come together as pro-testifiers or post-Protestants now, because together we are reaching a point where we acknowledge.we have a lot to learn from the very people we’ve been protesting.[and] can come together searching for what we are for.”12

Christ Alone?

McLaren devotes several chapters in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy, to the subject of Jesus Christ. They are in a section deceptively titled “Why I am a Christian” in which McLaren brazenly demonstrates that he is no Christian at all.

Chapter one is titled “Seven Jesuses I Have Known”13 and chapter two is titled “Jesus and God.”14 You may have already guessed from the title of the second chapter that McLaren teaches a distinction between Jesus and God. The undiscerning reader might miss this, at least in the beginning. McLaren uses a lot of Bible words and even Bible quotations to describe Christ. Jesus is the “Son of God” – “the image of God” – “the radiance of God’s glory” – “the image of the invisible God.” But McLaren’s definitions of these terms are not the Bible’s.

McLaren refuses ever to say that Jesus is God. He spends several pages explaining why he stops short of this: “God is not a male” (italics his).15 He goes on to say:

The masculine biblical imagery of “Father” and “Son” also contributes to the patriarchialism or chauvinism that has too often characterized Christianity.

There is so much more that could be said, but for now, let’s conclude: “Son of God” is not intended to reduce or masculinize God.16

When McLaren comes to his fourth chapter, “Jesus: Savior of What?”, he says that Christians have “demoted” Jesus by claiming that He died on the cross to save individuals’ souls from eternal damnation:

I believe we’ve also misconstrued, reduced, twisted, and torqued the whole meaning of what words like savior, save, and salvation are supposed to mean for generously orthodox Christians.17

.it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you “know” about what it means to call Jesus “Savior” and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention.

Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means “rescue” or “heal.” It emphatically does not automatically mean “save from hell” or “give eternal life after death” as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon.18

Elsewhere in the same chapter, McLaren denies the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners, and places Jesus in the category of a moral example pointing the way in man’s quest to improve society and the environment.

To say that Jesus is Savior is to say that in Jesus, God is intervening as Savior in all of these ways, judging (naming as evil), forgiving (breaking the vicious cycle of cause and effect, making reconciliation possible), and teaching (showing how to set chain reactions of good in motion). Jesus comes then not to condemn (to bring the consequences we deserve) but to save by shining the light on our evil, by naming our evil as evil so we can repent and escape the chain of bad actions and bad consequences through forgiveness, and so we can learn from Jesus the master-teacher to live more wisely in the future.19

“This,” McLaren concludes, “is a window into the meaning of the cross.”

Elsewhere in A Generous Orthodoxy McLaren makes it clear that when he uses Biblical terms such as “reconciliation” – “evil” – “repent” – and “forgiveness” he has nothing like the Bible’s definitions in mind.

By “reconciliation” he means the reconciliation of oppressed social classes and their oppressors, and the reconciliation of those who differ theologically under the umbrella of inclusivism – not the reconciliation of men to God through the blood of Christ.

“Our evil” is “the oppression of the poor and disadvantaged” – not the sin nature and eternal death sentence passed on to the entire race through the Fall of Adam.

The “consequences we deserve” are societal and environmental consequences here on earth – not eternity in Hell.

“Repent” means making society and the physical world a better place – not turning from sin to faith in Christ, or ongoing repentance through the operation of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

“Forgiveness” means forgiving each other of our injustices – not being forgiven by God, the One offended in all offenses, based on propitiation of His wrath by the blood of Christ.

These things, not what the Bible actually teaches, are what McLaren and his fellow Emergents claim the Bible means by “words like savior, save, and salvation.”

So much for solus Christus, salvation from eternal damnation through God the Son alone.

Faith Alone?

At this point it may seem even more absurd to ask about Emergents’ attitude toward sola fide. But we press on, if only to demonstrate that Emergents’ notions of “Biblical faith” are at least as astonishingly un-Biblical as their notions of “grace” and “salvation”.

We shall cite just one example. Emergent leader Randy Woodley, one of the contributors to An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, is a Cherokee Indian who works for an organization called First Nations Ministries. As a discerning Christian reads Woodley’s chapter titled “Restoring Honor in the Land” it becomes obvious that his theology is rooted in the animism of the American Indian.

Woodley quotes liberal theologian Walter Brueggemann as saying that “land is central, if not the central theme of Biblical faith” (italics his). The Scripture-driven Christian may ask, “Really? And how is such a ‘Biblical faith’ to be worked out?” Woodley tells us: Through the “salvation” of Indian lands “stolen” by white Europeans – that is, the return of the entire North American continent to its “rightful owners” –

As a Native American, I view the land given to my people through covenant with the Creator as sacred. We have developed ceremonies, stories, and traditions [all steeped in pagan animism, we must note] that aid us in living a sacred life on the land. Living this life is one that is reminiscent of the original covenant with human beings in the garden. It can be characterized as a “shalom sense of place.” Because our land was stolen, the nonindigene must find it difficult to feel the same congruity with the land. Yet the apparent sense of loss and incongruity felt by nonindigenes cannot be avoided until the issue of stolen land and missing relationship with America’s host people is worked through.

The solutions will not come easily. There will be more pain and loss to be sure, and it will likely span several generations. Yet God’s shalom kingdom demands that the issue of land be addressed. The issue must be addressed if Native Americans are ever to come back from marginality and into wholeness. It must be addressed if nonindigenous peoples ever hope to recover the missing sense of place that God has always intended for all human beings to experience to gain integrity, congruence, and wholeness in their lives. Seeking out and establishing relationships between the emerging church and indigenous people is paramount to finding shalom and providing a secure future for the next seven generations.

So much for the Biblical faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ to save individuals from sin and eternal condemnation, apart from works. Authentic Christian faith focuses not on fixing up this dying world, but looks forward to “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). Authentic Christians seeks to win souls for that kingdom, not to rearrange the kingdoms of man on earth.

An Incredible Array of Heresies

The Emergent Church movement’s “new Reformation” embodies an incredible array of past heresies. They begin with the denial of the inspiration, infallibility, and sole authority of the Scriptures. From there it is a short journey to the embrace of mystery – not in the Biblical sense of truth once hidden and subsequently revealed, but of inscrutable ambiguities open only to higher intellects; and the embrace of paradox – the god of “yes-and-no” instead of the God of “Yes, and Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:19-20). From there it is but a small step to deny the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. And from there the headlong plunge into the abyss accelerates with the teaching of the false doctrine of a moral-example “atonement” by Christ on the cross, the social gospel of the mainline liberals, salvation (whatever that may mean) by moral effort, ecumenical inclusivism and syncretism, the lie of universalism, and even pagan animism.

How Can Evangelicals Speak of “Positives”?

How is it, then, that so many Evangelicals are embracing the Emergent Church movement, or expressing their appreciation for its “positives” while perhaps also weakly expressing their “concerns”? There are no positives about a movement that stands against everything the Bible stands for. And “concern” is a woefully insufficient response from people who are supposed to be engaged in spiritual warfare against the forces of darkness that are behind evils like the Emergent Church movement (Ephesians 6:10-12).

There is a reason why so many Evangelicals today are accommodating and even embracing the Emergent Church movement, and we shall discuss it in our next article. That reason is intellectual pride – glorying in man rather than seeking the glory of God.

References:

1. Nanette Sawyer, “What Would Huckleberry Do?” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope: Key Leaders Offer an Inside Look, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, editors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), page 43-44.

2. Sawyer, 44.

3. Sawyer, 45.

4. Sawyer, 46-47.

5. Sawyer, 47.

6. Brian D. McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional-Evangelical-Post-Protestant-Liberal/Conservative-Mystical/Poetic-Biblical-Charismatic/Contemplative-Fundamentalist/Calvinist-Anabaptist/Anglican-Methodist-Catholic-Green-Incarnational-Depressed-Yet-Hopeful-Emergent-Unfinished Christian (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004), page 107.

7. McLaren, 109.

8. McLaren, 108-109.

9. Brian D. McLaren and Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), 25.

10. Samir Selmanivoc, “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope: Key Leaders Offer an Inside Look, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, editors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2007), 195.

11. A Generous Orthodoxy, 139.

12 A Generous Orthodoxy, 140.

13 A Generous Orthodoxy, 49-76.

14 A Generous Orthodoxy, 77-86.

15 A Generous Orthodoxy, 82.

16 A Generous Orthodoxy, 83-84.

17 A Generous Orthodoxy, 99.

18 A Generous Orthodoxy, 101.

19 A Generous Orthodoxy, 104-105.

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As I’ve tried to stress in other blogs, it is critical to emphasize the “bloody” message of our Saviour on Calvary, the message of “the Blood and the Cross”, in every service. This is the core of the gospel – to ignore or downplay the doctrine of the Atonement is an abomination.

Two passages come to mind. Paul said:

“22) Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23) but we preach Christ crucified… (I Cor. 1:22-23a).

And: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8)

I Googled the search string [“Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”] and found many great articles and sermons on the topic. Also, for me many old gospel hymns convey this message in a powerful way. Churches need to sing these hymns again, regularly: “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”, “The Old Rugged Cross”, etc. I found this YouTube video about these old hymns that seemed appropriate:

I came across an excellent blog from Stand Up for the Truth!, which emphasizes this same theme. Click here for the original site of this blog. I’ve emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Gospel-less sermons regenerate no one

How important is it to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached each and every Sunday?  That we would even need to ask this question nearly 2,000 years after the Church was first established is heartbreaking to me.

I’ve been told by Christians and even pastors that it is not realistic to expect to hear the Gospel preached in every sermon message. “Sometimes we’re talking about a different subject,” they tell me, or “it doesn’t fit in with section five of our 10-part sermon series.” Or this one: “If you think you need to hear the blood sacrifice being preached in every message, you’re  not going to be happy in any church.”

Really? Am I that demanding that I’ve placed an unfair, unrealistic expectation on our poor pastors who are just trying to reach the lost?

Imagine Paul, or Peter, or John, or even Jesus Himself sitting in a typical seeker-driven service on any given Sunday morning and not hearing the message that martyrs still die for: That we are born sinners into sin-filled world at odds with God and that while we still hated Him, He came to earth as a sinless sacrifice, whose blood on the cross atoned for our sins and the punishment we deserve. He rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of witnesses, who saw Him ascend to heaven, and those witnesses have been sharing that Good News ever since, that those who believe in Him can repent of their sins and be reconciled to God forever. It is through Christ alone that we are offered Mercy and Grace. Only In His perfect sacrifice, He exchanges His righteousness for our Sin.

In the time I took to read that, 30 seconds have passed. Surely 30 seconds of these life-giving words of the Gospel is the message that we all must hear over and over again. Not just so that we can be saved, but so that we can have real life to the full. A Sunday service without the Gospel regenerates no one.

It is good to talk about making good choices, or treating each other in love. It’s good to sing worship songs and teach about putting God and money in proper perspective. But not at the expense of  The Gospel.  Because if I am still steeped in my sins, unrepentant without knowing who Jesus is, and I’ve just sat through your sermon series on how to have a good marriage or how to feed the hungry, I am still going to Hell when I die.

English: Titian's Ancona Crucifiction, 1558. Unfortunately, many Christians today don’t know what the Gospel is. If you were to ask, they might say that the Gospel is about loving our neighbor, or loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And while important, these are not the Gospel, but are the essence of the Law. And yes, we need to walk the narrow path and live out what God commands.  But His truth also tells us that as hard as we strive, we can’t love God as perfectly as He commands. And by the way, how did you do at loving your neighbor last week? I fell extremely short.

That’s why we need the Gospel, even as we grow into mature Christians. We hear the Gospel so that we can be reminded of how good He is, and how wretched we are apart from Him. And when we do break the Law – any of them –we can repent of our sins and be forgiven.

As writer Mike Ratliff put it so powerfully, God will not tolerate a perversion of the Gospel because it is the only truth:

However, in our time the Gospel has been retold in all sorts of unbiblical ways. Some are outright lies while others are more subtle, for instance, there is the lie that is mostly true in which the Gospel is given, but that part about repentance and the lordship of Jesus Christ being necessary is left out. People want to make the narrow gate wide and easy, but that has never been God’s way. They want to remove the offense of the Cross, but it has to be there. Preaching against sin “puts people off, offends their sensibilities, puts them on the defensive, and makes them uncomfortable” is being cut from most churches in our time to make them more “seeker friendly.”

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins  2 in which you once walked according to the world system of this age, according to ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, as also the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Paul, speaking to Christians, told them and us that they were once just the rest of the world, which was dead in their own trespasses and sin in which they once walked according to the world system. There are no exceptions t this. A “Gospel message” or “theology” that does not address this is not biblical. In fact, it is false teaching. Those who teach these false teachings are teaching a different Gospel, and God will judge them for it.

The only Gospel is, “Trust in Jesus’ blood as the only redemption from sin.”       (Source: Possessing The Treasure)

In those last four seconds is packed an eternity of truth.  No, I don’t think I’m being demanding by asking to hear the Gospel each and every time. How can we expect anything less for our families, our friends and for a world that does not know Him?  Churches, pastors, Christians: It’s time to step up. Let’s not just squeeze these in around our three main principles or five action points. No, let’s make the Gospel the center of every message, and the rest can flow from Christ’s amazing, perfect love.

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Can truly born again Christians “lose their salvation”? Being brought up in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition, I believe so. I’m encountering many Christians who claim to be born again, yet refuse to give up ungodly practices such as Spiritual Formation/Contemplative Spirituality. They seem to feel safe in Christ, no matter what sins they refuse to give up. Can they continue in sinful rebellion and not build up the wrath of God? I doubt it. In the Bible, Paul makes various statements regarding this; he seems to have feared losing his salvation if he did not remain obedient to Christ.

Many people I know in Spiritual Formation, I thought were born again Christians. But looking back, it seems many never really knew the Lord in the first place.

Yet, I still think we all have free will. We have free will to accept Christ and become truly born again Christians. And truly born again Christians WILL NOT WANT to turn their backs on Christ and leave the faith. Yet, since born again Christians are still creatures of free will, God could allow them to leave the faith if they so choose.

I do think it is unreasonable to fear losing our salvation every time we slip up and tell a white lie, or run a red light on purpose, or whatever.

So here’s my view: I believe in “conditional eternal security.” I came across a very insightful article listing seven “streams” of conditional eternal security (John Wesley, H. Orton Wiley, etc.). I have reposted this article below;  click here for the original site of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [bracketed and bolded in orange].

Arminian Today

The List of Conditional Eternal Security Views

In response to the list of eternal security views that I recently posted on my blog, I wanted to offer a short list of the views held by Arminians on eternal security. You may find it ironic that, like Calvinist, there is no agreement among Arminians over the nature of the security of the believer as this list will hopefully show. I will not give you my opinion on which I hold to and will leave you to your own conclusions on each.

I have tried to go from the most extreme view to the least while still being Arminian in theology and practice.

1. Daniel Corner – Corner is the author of the book The Believer’s Conditional Security. I have a copy of the book and have used it many times. Overall Corner does a good job of presenting logically arguments against eternal security. He also footnotes many quotes from various Calvinist teachers to show the lack of unity among Calvinist over their own teachings. Corner is extreme, however, in his view that only one sin can cause a lose of salvation. Many Arminians are not willing to embrace Corner’s views. Further, Corner’s arguments would be stronger in his book if he covered all of Calvinism and not just eternal security. As Calvinist Dr. James White argues, eternal security is based on the other four points of Calvinism as well.

2. John Wesley – The father of the modern Wesleyan movement, John Wesley taught that sin can cause a loss of salvation and he believed that holiness was indeed necessary for eternal life. Wesley strongly taught against Calvinism in his day despite his friendship with Calvinist George Whitefield. Wesley was not an extreme view of losing your salvation since he did believe that sin did in fact dwell in the believer but Wesley did teach that sin needed to be eradicated and could only be done so by the power of the Holy Spirit living within the believer. Wesley’s views remain in tact to this day and the majority of Arminians hold to most of what Wesley taught. Wesley was brilliant and one of the greatest scholars the Church has ever known.

3. Richard Watson – The 18th century Methodist theologian who took the teachings of John Wesley and first put them into systematic form. Watson’s systematic theology book would remain the standard Arminian source for biblical theology for nearly 175 years. Watson’s writings would later influence many Nazarene, Wesleyan, and Pentecostal theologians. Watson believed in line with Wesley that continued, unrepentive sin could result in a loss of personal salvation and that perseverance was necessary for eternal life.

4. John Miley – The 19th century Holiness theologian and writer deviated from John Wesley and Richard Watson in his teaching on the governmental theory of the atonement. Miley’s book Systematic Theology remains an important work from Arminians theologians. Despite the problems I have with his atonement theory, Miley taught that eternal security was not biblical and that it allowed for continued sin in the life of the saint and furthermore was an insult to the grace of God (Titus 2:11-12).

5. H. Orton Wiley – The prominent Nazarene theologian’s book Systematic Theology remains on the best Arminian theological books available today. Wiley taught that eternal security was not biblical and that a believer could fall from grace through continued sin. Wiley differed with John Wesley and Richard Watson somewhat by teaching the standard Nazarene view that the baptism with the Holy Ghost was necessary to eradicate the sinful nature still alive in the believer and thus help the believer reach a point of “sinless perfection” in the eyes of God. This Spirit Baptism was a second work of grace called entire sanctification and helped the believer overcome sin in this life as long as the believer continued with faith in Christ.

6. Robert Picirilli – A modern theologian with the Free Will Baptist Church, Picirilli’s book Grace, Faith, and Free Will has been called the book that launched the modern Reformed Arminian views. Picirilli is different from many Arminian theologians because he is not Wesleyan but is Baptist. He argues in his book that his theology is true Arminianism as taught by James Arminius. Picirilli argues that one can only lose their salvation through apostasy and not sin. He teaches that perseverance is necessary for eternal life but sin is not the issue as much as faith in Jesus is the issue. Sin, argues Picirilli, clearly reveals a lack of faith in God’s Word and in His Son. Sin, then, is open rebellion toward God and leads to apostasy which can not be undone according to Hebrews 6:4-9.

[I located the following link regarding Picirilli]

Book review of Picirilli’s book Grace, Faith, Free Will: Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism

7. James Arminius – I have chosen to place Arminius last because Arminius was not clear on his views concerning the loss of salvation for the believer. In some places Arminius seemed to embrace modern Arminian thought that a believer can fall from grace but in other writings, Arminius seems to teach that a true Christian will persevere by the Spirit of God. As the father of the modern Arminian movement, Arminius helped shape the theology of millions of believers for generations to come while leaving the debate open over the issue of eternal security. Clearly, however, Arminius would oppose Calvinism and its allowance for continued sinning without repentance.

I would have added the Baptist writers Dale Moody, Church of Christ writer Robert Shank, and Baptist apologist Norman Geisler in this list as well if timed permitted. Each of the above mentioned have each made contributions toward modern Arminian theology. However, the greatest influence I believe made upon the modern evangelical church about the nature of salvation is not by any on this list or the Calvinist list but by the 19th century revivalist Charles G. Finney. Finney was neither Calvinist nor Arminian in his theology. While he seems to try to align himself more with Arminians then with Calvinist, Finney and Arminius (nor Wesley) would agree with one another. Finney was semi-Pelagian and most of the evangelical church including the seeker movement, the Purpose-Driven movement, and many denominations such as the Asssemblies of God, the Southern Baptist, and a host of others are more semi-Pelagian then Arminian.

Written by The Seeking Disciple
02/17/2007 at 4:32 PM

FOR FURTHER READING

Wikipedia article on conditional preservation of the saints (conditional eternal security)

Eternal Security: A Biblical Perspective (articles opposing critiquing eternal security)

A list of “conditional eternal security” articles

Bible Texts Calvinists misuse to prove “Eternal Security”

pjmiller,  “Conditional” Eternal Security

Scott Severance, Hebrews 6:4–6 and Losing One’s Salvation

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(revised 02/08/13)

It is puzzling why discernment ministries are vigorously protesting Emerging/Emergents but not heretical Messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of The Harbinger. I couldn’t believe it, for example, when a well respected  discernment ministry posted this comment here:

“It’s one thing to expose heresy, such as that of the Emergent Church. It’s quite another to blast away at a man [Cahn] who is simply calling for personal and national repentance…”

Fact is, Cahn is doing much more than calling for “repentance.” The Harbinger is just the most profitable of his books, CDs, DVDs, radio and TV broadcasts, etc. “revealing ancient mysteries of the Bible to Jew and Gentile.”

To me “ancient mysteries” sounds too much like the occult Kaballah/Zohar and other rabbinic books of “hidden secrets.” Speaking of which, Googling on the search strings [“rabbinic” “ancient secrets”], [“rabbinic” “hidden secrets”] and [“rabbinic” “ancient mysteries”] brought up articles by many rabbis. Apparently “revealing ancient mysteries of the Bible” (as Cahn describes his ministry) is is a popular teaching method among rabbis. This Wikipedia article on Esoteric Christianity mentions Judaism and the Kaballah along with many other sects.  Shame on Cahn.  Messianic people, who claim to born again, should have no part in this genre of teaching/preaching – it’s occultic.

Either many discernment ministries haven’t researched Cahn enough, and/or they won’t heed whatever documentation they have read about Cahn’s heresies. I pray these discernment ministries see the light – I would hate to see them lose their integrity because they wouldn’t recant their defense of Cahn.

Ironically, I am coming across various Messianic ministries which are exposing Cahn as a heretic. For example, he is listed as a heretic by a Messianic ministry here (scroll down to the section entitled “The Wolves List”).

Also, I came across an excellent expose of Cahn by Danny Moriel, of the Messianic Moriel Ministries. I have reposted this expose below; click here for the original site of this expose. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [bracketed and bolded in orange].

JULY 9TH, 2012
This entry posted by MORIELDANNY

Shhh…It’s a Secret God Told Me to Tell You!

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

As the Preacher has already told us, “There is nothing new under the sun”. (Ecc. 1:9) So why should we be surprised that yet another person has been the exclusive recipient of yet another “secret” from God and, for the first time in the history of the world, is making it known to us? For some reason, instead of writing it down in one of the original languages of the Bible and making it freely available to all like the original Prophets of old, this time around God chose to have it printed in English and sold for $16.99 ($9.00 on the Kindle). For a fee, the “prophet” will come and speak about it. False teaching disguised as “revelation” like Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger have been around since  handwriting was invented and such will, no doubt, persist until the Lord returns. Please do not buy it or even bother reading a friend’s copy; why should you take away time from your personal meditation in Scripture, the only true source of revelation? But such things keep coming up, so I keep going back to the above verse.

  • Fact 1: God has not revealed everything to us, nor will He.
  • Fact 2: He has already revealed everything we need to know in His Word. There is no room for new books in The Book.
  • Fact 3: If we cannot be obedient to what has already been revealed, there is no “new” or further revelation coming.

In addition to outright false teachers and false prophets who teach error, there are also those who, “…speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord”. (Jer. 23:16b) In either case, it is to be rejected just the same.

The sad thing is that I cannot even report this to be the most egregious attempt to deceive the Elect in this age-old genre of claiming something never-before-revealed. There seems to be a whole “Bible codes” industry built on individuals and movements who purport to be the first ones in history whom God allowed to figure out these “secrets”. On the most shallow, surface level of this nonsense, why does it not bother anyone with a grade school education that the Lord has allowed all of the apostles, pastors and scholars throughout the whole of history up this point to have miscalculated, mistranslated, or just plain mishandled the Word except these chosen few whom God waited until now to reveal it to? Why is it that we so rarely see these “gifted” individuals living like a true apostle or prophet, much less a faithful rank-and-file believer? Why does God choose for them to personally profit so greatly from this particular revelation when this was anything but the case for those through whom the true, written Word of God was previously given? (Prophets from biblical times must be jealous of profits in modern times—pun intended.) Why should I even attempt a scriptural response when the argument is won and lost without ever leaving the arena of common sense?

For the uninitiated, the name of the last book of the Bible, in Greek, is “Apokalypsis”. It describes an unveiling, something that becomes clearer and clearer as you get nearer to it, and the veil which you can already partially see through is finally lifted out of the way. The truth is that if we would just trust the timing and direction of the Holy Spirit through Whom we obtain the only guidance that can explain God’s Word, there are no remaining “secrets”. At present we can already see the outline of them all, so it is really a case of God’s timing as to when we will be brought close enough and the veil fully removed so that what has been there all along comes into our clear, earthly view. Such are not “secret” things, but a test of faith to see if we will obey all that we have already been given while we wait for His timing when it comes to the rest. Beware of those who claim they are the only ones who can explain what is behind the curtain, especially if it costs $16.99.

But I have to say that it amazes me how poor the so-called “Christian” con-artists and counterfeiters are at their work! We could never find an unbelieving con-man or counterfeiter producing obvious imitations and cheap knock-offs that would not fool anyone. They have much more pride in their work than the Christian con-artists! The professional thief at least does their homework, pays attention to all the tiniest details and makes it the most difficult possible to see any difference between the fake and authentic. At least their fake diamond is so good, only the most well-equipped and knowledgeable expert can tell the difference so that they really do fool the mark. All Christian con-artists seem to need to do is produce something sparkly and pretty which only they would have the audacity to call a “diamond”, and there is no end of takers who are fooled! They do not have to make any effort whatsoever beyond simply calling it a “diamond” and, unlike a wiser person of the world, their marks simply take their word for it. Unlike the world’s counterfeits, it is so obviously something of little resemblance to the real thing that it should never have fooled anyone to begin with.

One would think that these charlatans would spend at least a little time studying how an authentic, biblical prophet lives, speaks and acts. Or that they would carefully craft their wares to be as indistinguishable as possible from the authentic. Or that they would try to imitate the original right down to the worn out sandals. Why is it that Christians will accept an obvious imitation which any non-believer with bad eyesight and a poor sense of smell would recognize in ten seconds? Why is it that every modern-day false prophet fills the exact mold Jesus identified as producing something obviously false?

“But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! (Mt. 11:8)

How did John’s appearance and stature reveal he was anything but someone who called a king’s palace a home? He first and foremost looked and lived the part.

Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. (Mt. 3:4)

And what was John’s accompanying message? What did he say to do about the impending arrival of the Messiah, the greatest literal “revelation” of all time?

“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; (Mt. 3:8)

Everyone then, just as today, knew that the Messiah was coming soon. The real prophet did not reveal a new “secret”, did not dazzle them with something only he had, but called them back to the most basic thing they knew all along because it had been drilled over and over again through all the previous prophets and God’s Word predicting His arrival: repent of sin and put the Word of God as already given into practice so you will be able to handle the coming revelation.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

And what is even more incredible is that the Messiah DOES come, the Messiah fulfills more than three hundred twenty prophecies in the Old Testament, and the vast majority completely miss the “revelation” of the Messiah’s first coming! Why? Instead of doing what John said, they kept following and seeking after those who dangled something else in front of them. How much more authentic can it get than to have the Messiah, in person, right there in front of you and instead giddily run after the cheap, sparkly imitation that “looks pretty” over there? No, the problem then is the same as it is now: a lack of obedience to what God has already revealed, a population that can be deceived because they are not prepared for something “new” because they never truly believed the “old”.

Do I believe that there are “deeper” truths to be gleaned from the Word than are obvious at first glance? Of course, but there is a basic rule of interpretation which tells us when the line has been crossed from “exegesis”—drawing out of Scripture what is there, and “eisegesis”—reading something into Scripture that was never there to begin with: Scripture never contradicts Scripture.

I have seen people use Gematria, where the letters of the Greek or Hebrew alphabet are assigned a number, to show that the Messiah to come was going to literally be named “Jesus”. If that is true, it is not actually something “new” or in conflict with the rest of Scripture, is it? Scripture confirms that the Messiah is indeed named “Jesus”. Within Scripture is a rich texture of patterns, allegories, parables and typology, all of which never form the basis for doctrine, but in every instance is confirmed elsewhere in Scripture by what is plainly stated. The “deeper” things reflect and provide a better understanding of the basic things. If someone offers something that cannot be confirmed and supported by Scripture, run far, my friend…run fast.

How does a real prophet handle God’s prophetic Word? Look at the guy through whom more “secrets” were revealed in the Old Testament than any other. No one has left us more Old Testament prophetic puzzles than Daniel. How did he handle the recognition of God’s revelation in his time?

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the LORD God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O LORD, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. (Dan. 9:1-5)

Daniel is searching the Word which God has already given! Daniel, someone renowned for personal faithfulness to God’s Word, discovers something no one else seems to be aware of which is inside the Word which God has already given! What does he do with this “secret”? Daniel begins by addressing the core issue of repentance of sin and obedience to the Word—that which has already been made known. He knows they are not going to get the greater fulfillment to come if they do not get what has already been revealed.

When faced with the imminent and inevitable fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word, a true prophet first and foremost addresses the shortfall in living according to what God’s people should already know. Daniel did not know how God would specifically fulfill the prophecies in Jeremiah, but he knew that it would be missed in whatever form it took by God’s people if they did not repent and start living according to the Word already given to them. In other words, because people were not living according to the Word of God as already given, they were incapable of seeing what was about to be revealed in the prophetic Word of God! God is not going to reveal a “secret” to someone who is unwilling to obey the plain truth already provided. In fact, when Daniel was given an actual secret, he was told to keep it secret until God Himself would reveal it at God’s appointed time. (Dan. 8:26-27)

Now here is an interesting supporting “revelation” from Scripture when it comes the unveiling of God’s secrets. What would happen if God DID make one of His secrets known? How would we know for sure that this was authentically taking place?

The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant. (Psalm 25:14)

It will only come to those who are obediently putting His Word into practice for the purpose of their further putting His Word into practice! Biblically speaking, “those who fear Him” is defined as someone who is intimately acquainted and so reveres the Lord that it is visibly proven by their obedience to His Word. This verse does not contradict the one previously quoted from Deuteronomy, but establishes what we know not only about every biblical prophet’s ministry, but every sign and wonder recorded and still to come: it is always about obedience to the greater message of the Word. The Psalmist tells us that the end result is the deepest and most complete working of God’s Word, to “know His covenant”. This is the term which expresses having entered into a personal relationship with God based on the mutual terms of His Word. Authentic secrets from the Lord confirm His Word for those already in a right and obedient relationship in the most profound ways so that it has the greatest effect to reinforce obedience to His Word!

  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because God does not reveal secrets to someone living a life apart from His Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they are not supported by nor conform to God’s already provided Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they try to introduce something “new” that cannot be found in God’s written Word.
  • We know some “secrets” to be bogus because they are so general, we do not know what to actually do with the information.

But we ultimately know to automatically reject anyone using the term “secret” without delving very deeply. Why?

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Dt. 29:29)

“I have not spoken in secret,
In some dark land;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob
‘Seek Me in a waste place’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
Declaring things that are upright. (Is. 45:19)

What is here articulated through Isaiah in the Old Testament is expanded upon by Christ Himself:

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. (John 18:20)

Paul tells us that even when God reveals a mystery, it is verified by God’s Word and those through whom His written Word was given, and that such is always freely and publicly revealed to the entire world and has as its ultimate purpose faithfulness to God’s Word:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 16:25-27)

What is, has, and most certainly will come many more times in the form of those claiming to reveal something “secret” is probably best explained by Peter for what it really is:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Pe. 2:1-3)

Too many are so easily deceived because they spend absolutely no time in the Word, usually because to do so would mean having to address the persistent issues of personal sin in their life. They do not know what God’s Word says, so they allow someone else to define it for them. It is like buying a diamond without ever actually knowing what a real diamond looks or feels like, so why not just take the salesman’s word for it? But for those of us who strive to attain to being a Wise Virgin (Mt. 25:1-13) who remain committed to His Word in spite of the lateness of the hour, we have already been provided everything we authentically and literally need from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Everything else is an obvious and pale imitation.

In Him,

Servant@WalkWithTheWord.org

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(revised 02/07/13)

Heretical Messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn has become famous for his bestseller The Harbinger. But did you know he has put out many additional heretical teachings?  Besides his messages at his Messianic congregation, he speaks regularly on his own radio and television shows. (Note – there are sincere, born again, biblically sound Messianic congregations out there I’m sure. But Cahn and his congregation are not one of them.)

This web page reveals a wealth of information about Cahn’s teachings – 1,751 tapes of his bizarre heretical teachings for sale as of 02/05/13.

Below are a few of the tapes that jumped out at me – and I’ve just started looking. A number of summaries look questionable, but they don’t give enough info to determine whether the messages contain blatant heresies. I’ve listed the tapes in chronological order, to show the progression (or digression) of Cahn’s beliefs.

Message Number: 1657
Date: 2011-02-25
Title: LITTLE MESSIAHS: THE CHAMPIONS!
Summary: Its radical but you can live as a little Messiah and how to live the life of the champion.

Message Number: 1757
Date: 2012-09-14
Title: THE MYSTERY OF TISHRI 1
Summary: The holiday known as Rosh Ha Shannah, “The Jewish New Year,” really isn’t – but is filled with revelations on something much more profound – uncover the mysteries of the End of the Age contained in The Day of the Trumpet.

Message Number: 1763
Date: 2012-10-12
Title: D328 THE SECRET OF WORLD HISTORY II
Summary: From the Pharaohs to Rome, to America and the Soviet Union, to the future – one of the most profound secrets behind world history from the Book of Deuteronomy.

Message Number: 1764
Date: 2012-10-14
Title: THE HARBINGER CONTINUES: EREZ AND BABEL
Summary: After three years, and as the message of The Harbinger now goes forth to America as a national best seller, Jonathan continues revealing the mystery of the harbingers with a Scripture hidden in the ruins of Ground Zero, with a Tree of judgment, a vow on beams of steel, and the Tower of Babel.

Message Number: 1768
Date: 2012-11-16
Title: THE ISAIAH 53 NEW COVENANT APPEARINGS
Summary: The most controversial and stunning of Messianic prophecies is actually woven throughout the New Testament- Discover where and how.

Message Number: 1773
Date: 2012-12-07
Title: THE MACCABBEE BLUEPRING V [I think this is supposed to say BLUEPRINT V]
Summary: The ancient Feast of Chanukah contains the most detailed, specific revelation of the end-times of any Biblical holy day – everything from the antichrist to the abomination desolation to modern day apostasy – discover the revelation & the blueprint for victory in the end times.

Message Number: 1791
Date: 2012-12-24
Title: THE HOUSE OF THE PRESENCE
Summary: Hidden in the name “Bethlehem” is an ancient mystery that goes back to Eden, Passover, the Wilderness, and the essence and secret of our lives.

And these are just a few of Cahn’s bizarre messages. They may be intriguing, but 1) are they true, and 2) where is his emphasis on the gospel of Calvary?

Many born again, biblically sound online discernment ministries (ODMs) are sympathizing with Cahn’s heretical novel The Harbinger, if not openly endorsing it. I don’t know how these ODMs can ignore the heresies in Cahn’s bizarre teaching tapes – unless they simply haven’t come across his other teaching resources yet …

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