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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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UPDATE 05/21/15
(some of this info is a duplication of my original blog, plus some responses made to readers)

For our readers, let me get one thing straight – I’m not trying to stir up a hornet’s nest by critiquing Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. I love the Jewish people, and I believe they are the apple of God’s eye. God says in His Word, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”

I have no problem with Rabbi Cahn warning the United Nations, the United States, and the U.S. Supreme Court (for example concerning the gay “marriage” agenda). I appreciate Rabbi Cahn confronting wicked, ungodly sinners with the need to repent. I believe we are approaching the End Times (and/or are in the End Times), and we need to stand up for the Truth and confront wickedness wherever possible. Like Rabbi Cahn I would love to confront and expose the wicked. In that regards, Rabbi Cahn and I are on the same page I think.

Some have asked why I am “attacking” Rabbi Cahn, whom they feel is a wonderful man of God. I believe there is a difference between attacking and correcting. Attacking to me means name calling, being anti-Semitic, etc. Correcting to me means speaking the truth in love (as lovingly as possible that is).

Others have wondered whether I have discussed my concerns with Rabbi Cahn privately first, confronting him face to face before posting this critical blog. As far as first confronting face to face (or by correspondence or by phone), it’s true I have not done that. But I know for a fact that others have  confronted, corrected, and warned Rabbi Cahn – apparently to no avail. I do admire the discernment ministries that try to confront straying individuals privately first. But note that when the individuals refuse correction, the discernment ministries “go public”. You could say I’m repeating what larger discernment ministries have already gone public with. For me the issue has gone beyond correcting Rabbi Cahn directly. My focus now is on warning others to stay away from his ministry and not follow his teachings.

My problem with Rabbi Cahn is how he apparently puts himself on the level of a modern day prophet, like the prophets of Bible times. On this I take issue with Rabbi Cahn, as well as the so-called “prophets, priests and kings” of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Rabbi Cahn gives many so-called “mysteries” and “new revelations”, teaching things that are extrabiblical, that I find nowhere in my Bible. Check out this list of over 1,960 messages available from Rabbi Cahn. Even as of today’s writing, there are odd sounding message titles (see for example messages dated 05/01/15 and 05/03/15). Judging from the message titles, many of these messages are chalk full of strange terminology and teachings. I cannot find any such teachings by  born again, biblically knowledgable, doctrinally sound Bible teachers. To me, these supposed revelations largely cancel out any meaningful warnings Rabbi Cahn might be giving to the United Nations, the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court, etc.

Our readers may wonder, why am I focusing so much on Rabbi Cahn? Because he is so influential in Christian circles. He is head of the largest Messianic congregation in America. He is a bestselling author. And, his writings are influencing the theology and eschatology of so many Christians. I am critiquing Rabbi Cahn for what I believe are heresies – just as I would critique pastors of the largest Protestant churches in America, pastors whom I also feel are heretical. Namely, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, etc.

I would say, Rabbi Cahn does seem to be born again. He does come across as a very nice fellow, sociable, personable, and passionate about what he believes. He is in my prayers. But again I have serious problems with his methodology.  Read on…
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(blog originally published 02/05/13)

To me it’s obvious that Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s novel The Harbinger is heretical. Yet I’m finding a number of discernment ministries with good reputations that are sympathizing with The Harbinger if not endorsing it. So… rather than analyzing why so many born again, biblically sound men and women of God are falling for this, I’m trying another approach to hopefully wake up deceived Christians and nonchristians.

Namely, researching Jonathan Cahn himself – his life, his beliefs, etc.:

… Does he have a doctrinal statement, and what does it say? And does he really believe his own doctrinal statement, or is he just mouthing what he thinks born again Christians want to hear?
… What other books and articles has he written, and are they biblically sound?
… What sermons has he preached, and what seminars has he taught? Exactly what does he teach in his radio and television broadcasts?
… Where did he get his training, and what was he taught?
… Who were his mentors?
… What authors and books does he recommend?
… What pastors, speakers and movements does he recommend?

You get the idea.

If Cahn is a heretic (which I believe he is), his heresies should be able to be easily documented by looking at his life.

Regarding The Harbinger: I believe it is impossible for heretics to write biblically sound books. Can Richard Foster write a biblically sound book – or Eugene Peterson, Bill Johnson, Todd Bentley, Patricia King, etc. etc.? Of course not – it’s impossible! If Cahn is indeed a heretic, then The Harbinger is heretical.

Note: in this blog I am emphasizing certain points by bolding in orange, and inserting comments [in bolded orange in brackets].

First off, let’s look at a favorable biography of Cahn, found here:

Jonathan Cahn, also fondly known as “The nice Jewish boy” became involved in full-time ministry soon after his college years. From an early age Jonathan questioned his Jewish upbringing rejecting most of its teachings. Consequently he decided not to partake in the usual Bar Mitzvah ceremonies, a traditional rite of passage for young Jewish teenage boys. In seventh grade he became friends with a boy who spoke to him about Jesus, which prompted him to investigate more, searching for answers to his many questions about life and God. He came across Hal Lindsey’s popular book, The Last Great Planet Earth wherein he found evidence of his Jewish Messiah through the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures. This seemed to be a turning point for him, but Jonathan still continued to live his life as he always did, including participating in a rock band. But one thing that did change at that time is his insistence on telling others about Jesus the Messiah─although he himself had not yet made a commitment to the Lord.

After two close calls that could easily have resulted in his death (2 accidents) Jonathan miraculously escaped without any injury and came to realize that if he was to take the Scriptures seriously he would need to make a full-commitment to the Lord, not just a mental acceptance without any lifestyle changes. At the age of 20, grateful that God had spared his life─he drove to a tranquil spot at the top of a mountain, knelt down in prayer and dedicated his life to the Lord. [Is “dedicated” the term Cahn himself uses? Is this his euphemism for repenting of sin and accepting the Messiah as his Saviour? Or did Cahn in fact not have a “crisis conversion experience”?] This marked a major turning point for him. It wasn’t long after that Jonathan was asked to teach a Bible study which led to his first ministry that mainly focused on assisting the needy, the homeless and disabled. [Helping people is okay, but it should always be secondary to evangelism/preaching the gospel/saving lost souls. Has Cahn ever had a truly soulwinning ministry?] Several years later in 1988, he was asked to lead Beth Israel, which with his leadership has grown to be the largest Messianic congregation in the U.S., consisting of both Jews and Gentiles worshiping the Messiah Jesus.

Jonathan Cahn is currently President of Hope of the World – “an end time ministry for an end time world,” and continues to act as senior pastor and Messianic rabbi for Beth Israel/ the Jerusalem Center in Wayne, New Jersey. He has an extensive radio ministry and his teachings are broadcast every day over hundreds of radio stations, some TV stations and by way of shortwave radio broadcasts that reach all around the world. [I’d like to find out when and on what channels/stations he teaches, to hear what exactly what doctrines he is teaching. This list of YouTube videos is a good start.] Jonathan and his ministry team are dedicated to sharing the gospel message. He has ministered to large groups not only here in the U.S., but also to massive audiences in India, Nigeria, Cuba, Mizoram, Honduras, Haiti and continues to reach out to other nations as well. Rabbi Cahn is married and has two children.

In January 2012 his book, The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future was published and quickly became a bestseller, debuting at number 10 and number 28 respectively on the New York Times bestseller list in the print paperback category. The book is also available with an accompanying DVD set. The Harbinger  published by FrontLine, an imprint of Charisma House [formerly known as the charismatic/New Apostolic Reformation “Strang Communications” – read more here] outlines a series of detailed parallels between what has happened in the United States since the 2001 terrorist attacks—including the economic collapse—and similarities in Israel’s history after it turned away from God. The author depicts his personal impressions in a fictional narrative how nine signs he identifies within recent events may signal God’s progressive judgment.

Tessie DeVore, book group executive vice president at Charisma House has stated, “It is a timely message for our nation and a rallying cry for Christians to pray for America.” No doubt she is right and the messages in The Harbinger have ignited a passion for believers who are serious about their faith─to share the Word of God and pray fervently for God’s mercy─to bring repentance and healing to a nation where so many have self-righteously dishonored and abandoned Him. [I disagree with this paragraph – I believe The Harbinger is spreading heresies more than it is bringing  repentance. The book is doing far more harm than good.]

Now let’s look at another short bio, found here on Cahn’s own website. Note especially the wording of the last sentence:

Jonathan Cahn is President of Hope of the World ministries, Senior Pastor and Messianic Rabbi of the the Jerusalem Center/ Beth Israel in Wayne, New Jersey. He is also the author of the best selling book ‘The Harbinger‘. His teachings are broadcast daily over hundreds of radio stations throughout the United States and the world and on television.  He ministers, as did the first Jewish messengers of the Gospel, sharing the message of Messiah to Jew and Gentile, Israel, and the nations.  He has ministered before mass gatherings in India, Nigeria, Cuba, Mizoram, Honduras, Haiti, & throughout the world.  His teachings are widely known for revealing the deep mysteries of God’s word and for the restoring of the new covenant message to its original biblically Jewish richness and power. [I’ve commented on a similar statement in the next paragraph below.]

And another revealing bio, found here:

Jonathan Cahn is President of Hope of the World ministries, Senior Pastor, and Rabbi of the Beth Israel Worship Center in Garfield, New Jersey. His teachings are broadcast daily over hundreds of radio stations throughout the United States and the world. He can also be seen weekly on television (“Something Different”). Descended of the line of Aaron, he has been asked to sound the Jubilee trumpet [who “asked” him to do this, and what exactly does “sounding the Jubilee trumpet” mean?] and minister among the nations, a prophetic ministry [but true prophetic ministries do not exist today – only in the ungodly, heretical minds of New Apostolic Reformation “prophets” such as Bill Johnson, Mick Bickle, John and Carol Arnott, Todd Bentley, Patricia King, etc. etc.] of and to the Jew and the Gentile in the last days. His teachings include the revealing of ancient mysteries , the depth and wonders of God’s Word, and the restoration of the Gospel message in its original Biblically Jewish context, richness, and power. [What exactly are the “ancient mysteries” Cahn is revealing? And what exactly does he mean by the “restoration” of the Gospel message? The Bible is sufficient in and of itself to tell us all we need, without having to be interpreted for us in new and revealing ways by a so-called “prophet” like Cahn.]

Some info on Cahn’s Messianic congregation, found here:

The vision for Beth Israel began with Gary Selman, a Messianic Jewish businessman with a heart for sharing the Gospel to Jew and Gentile alike. Helping this vision become a reality was Reverend Charlie Rizzo of the Church of the Nazarene who gave early support to the new work. [The Nazarene denomination is deeply involved in heretical Spiritual Formation/ Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings. And the Nazarenes are increasing ties with various New Apostolic Reformation groups including IHOP. Have the Nazarenes influenced Beth Israel and Jonathan Cahn with any of these beliefs?]

Beth Israel became an independent work in 1988 under the leadership, pastorship, and rabbinate of Jonathan Cahn. In this first year it grew from a congregation of about 35 people to three times that size. It soon outgrew its first home in the Paramus Church of the Nazarene, but there was no money for a building….

Beth Israel continues to grow, becoming what is believed to be the largest Messianic Congregation in the United States.

Stand Up for the Truth posted comments by Cahn on the Zohar (Kaballah) here. I’m providing his comments on the Zohar below. Note: the Stand Up for the Truth post also includes Cahn’s brief responses concerning extra-biblical revelation, Gnosticism, etc. Personally, I do not find Cahn’s answers very satisfying – it seems to me he’s just making excuses for his heretical teachings.

I’ve encountered similar excuses when I’ve questioned supposedly born again Evangelical Friends about the heretical Quaker teachings they’re reverting to – such as:

… immediate revelation
… “the Inner Light”/”that of Christ in every man”
… people of various religions going to Heaven because, in faithfully adhering to their own religion, they’re following “the Inner Light” that’s in every person (even though they’ve never heard the name of Christ)

But I digress – back to Cahn’s response regarding his quoting the Zohar, again, posted by Stand Up for the Truth here.:

Question:  It is stated that Jonathan Cahn “says that Zohar, an extrabiblical, mystical source from which the occultic and mystical Kabbalah is derived, greatly influenced his writing.”

Answer:  Unfortunately this kind of statements represents some of the extreme and bizarre opposition to The Harbinger – It is an extreme false accusation.

No. I have never in my life said that the Zohar has greatly influenced my writing – nor has it ever.  What this accusation is taken from and twisted out of recognition from – Is that I have in some special teachings shared quotes found in the rabbinic writings which unwittingly bear witness of the truth of the Gospel – things that most Jewish people have no idea of – such as Isaiah 53 being about the Messiah, or God being Three in One, Messiah dying for our sins [Isaiah 53 in our Bible clearly describes the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Why does Cahn need to appeal to occult, mystic Jewish documents like the Zohar/Kaballah  to get Jewish people to listen? Isn’t reading the Bible itself sufficient for Cahn?], or a connection made between the mercy of God and the word “Golgotha.”  These things can be used to share the Gospel.  This has been a standard method of apologetics and evangelism for ages.  Rabbinical writings, mystical or otherwise, have been quoted for ages, in Bible commentaries, apologetics, works such as The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, etc. To take this and then present it as if I or any Christian pastor or scholar is a secret follower of such things because they used a quote to bear witness of the Gospel is, as, one minister friend of mine would say – shameful at best. It should not have even appeared in print.

The apostle Paul actually quoted from a pagan hymn to Zeus in order to share the truth of the Gospel at Mars Hill.  [This argument has used by many heretics to justify their quoting Catholics, Buddhists, etc.] If we were to then to accuse him of being into Zeus worship, or that pagan writings were behind the epistles, or accuse of him of being secretly pagan – I would think we would need to repent.  It’s called bearing false witness.

Sorry, for me the logic does not follow. If Cahn is the born again Christian that he claims, he should condemn the ungodly, occult Zohar/Kaballah. He should not quote it, except in condemnation of its passages.  Let’s look at it another way – would a born again, biblically sound Christian:

… quote from a Catholic document to evangelize Catholics because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a Mormon document to evangelize Mormons because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a Jehovah’s Witnesses document to evangelize Jehovah’s Witnesses because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a New Age document to evangelize New Agers because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a Wiccan document to evangelize Wiccans because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?
… quote from a Satanic document to evangelize Satanists because it seemed to contain some Christian thoughts?

I realize born again, biblically sound (in my opinion) Christians such as A.W. Tozer and even H. Orton Wiley have commended the writings of Catholic mystics. But they should not have. These and many other born again Christians set a dangerous precedent, helping pave the way for today’s contemplative Emerging/Emergents to quote Catholic mystics, etc.

And as I mentioned above, aside from his quoting the Zohar/Kaballah, why does Cahn need to “reveal ancient mysteries” to “Jews and Gentiles?” Why can’t he just preach the Bible as it is, without having to reveal various mysteries that have supposedly been hidden for centuries in its pages? I believe this is going way beyond what God’s Word says. Cahn is treading on dangerous, heretical ground here, twisting God’s Holy Word, reinterpreting passages to say things God never intended.

It would be very insightful to also locate detailed info about Cahn’s true positions on the following questions. To me it seems Cahn was quite flippant, evasive and unrepentant in responding to the questions below, in this interview:

Question: Why infer that God is giving extra-biblical revelation, when the Bible was given once and for all to the saints?

Concern: Israel is not America, and God did not make a covenant with us, nor are we the apple of His eye.

Question: Is the publisher pronouncing Rabbi Cahn a foretelling prophet?

Question: What else has the publisher put out there?

Question: Does Rabbi Cahn draw from extra-biblical, mystical writings as his sources?

Question: One critic said that since The Harbinger speaks of mysteries being revealed – does this have to do with Gnostic beliefs?

Question: It is stated that Jonathan Cahn “says that Zohar, an extrabiblical, mystical source from which the occultic and mystical Kabbalah is derived, greatly influenced his writing.” [I have attempted to expose Cahn’s true position on the Zohar/Kaballah in the paragraphs above. I’ve also reposted Berit Kjos’ much more detailed expose here – God bless you Berit!]

Question: Does The Harbinger say that Isaiah is prophesying of America?
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(Note – my blog was previously entitled Heretical “Harbinger” author Jonathan Cahn: who is he and what does he really believe?)

FOR FURTHER READING

Audio sermons by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn (full of heresies)

Christine Pack, A Commentary on The Harbinger: A Warning About The Harbinger

Ken Silva, David James’ Book “The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?” Available

Ken Silva, Jim Bakker’s Homage to Jonathan Cahn Who Says He’s Blessed by Bakker’s Mentoring

Ken Silva, Patriotic Idolatry: “America for Jesus,” the NAR and Jonathan Cain

Ken Silva, Prophet Rabbi Jonathan Cain?

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I believe we have God’s Word today as inerrant and preserved – praise the Lord! Regarding the Bible’s inerrancy and preservation, I came across an excellent article which I am reposting below. Click here for the original source. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Disarming the Saints: The Bible as Defective Weaponry

©2008 Brandon Staggs

In Ephesians 6, the Bible calls itself “the sword of the Spirit.” Believers are told to take “the whole armour of God” so that we “may be able to withstand in the evil day.” Scripture is hereby likened to a weapon, and we are therefore expected to wield it. 2 Corinthians 10:4 makes it clear that we as followers of Christ are in a state of warfare. As believers, we are furnished by God with a variety of armaments with which to fight our battles. Since God has given us the ultimate offensive weapon, his word, it is to be used, not ignored or shunned.

Further, it is imperative that the believer trust his weaponry. No soldier wishes to go to battle with defective or unreliable armaments, and in the case of we saints, our God has not demanded of us that we fight battles with tools in a state of disrepair.

Knowing this, Satan has fought his side of the battle in part by attacking God’s word itself, and by convincing believers that they can not, and should not, rely upon it.

The Power of Scripture for the Believer

Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, we read that we are to actively resist “every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” and that we are to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” How are we to do this, though? How do we take our thoughts captive and maintain obedience? The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

It is through God’s word that our thoughts are discerened. It is also knowledge of Scripture that prevents error:

Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

Scripture is our source of knowledge of doctrine and righteousness; our means of reproof and correction:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Many Christians believe that they will stay away from error simply through prayer and influence of the Holy Spirit. And yet in denying the power of God’s word, and refusing to rely on it, they reject the very means God has given them to avoid error. Is it any wonder that the Lord said:

Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The Power of Scripture Against Satan

We see the power of Scripture in the temptation of Jesus Christ by Satan:

Matthew 4:1-11 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Three times Satan tempted the Lord, and three times the Creator of the universe (John 1:3), who had the power to simply strike Satan out of all existence, answered: it is written. Let this sink in. Consider that your God in the flesh, while being tempted by the Devil himself, used the sword of the spirit as his rebuke! If Scripture is the weapon of choice for Christ, how dare anyone who claims to follow Christ assume a greater weapon is at our disposal.

Satan’s Attack on God’s Word: Yea, Hath God Said?

Satan knows the power of God’s word. In the temptation of Christ, we saw Satan twist Scripture to his own ends. Satan’s attack on the words of God is as old as Man:

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

From the very beginning, Satan has cast doubt on God’s word in man, and then moving from doubt to outright denial:

Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

We see in Eve’s deception that Satan’s attack on God’s word begins with a seed of doubt, and then grows into open denial of God’s promises. Any such form of attack on God’s word, beginning with “Yea, hath God said,” must be instantly and completely rejected.

The Threat from Within: Manufacturing Defective Weaponry

2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Satan’s outward attack on God’s word is not enough for him. His battle against truth continues:

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Scoffing Scholars and Dull Swords: a Seed of Unbelief

As we saw in the temptation of Christ, “it is written” is the ultimate rebuke against temptation and error. Remember that the Bible likens Scripture to a sword, which is a weapon used both offensively and defensively. In our protracted spiritual warfare, we must take on the armor God has promised us — we have no right to request otherwise, and will have no excuse if we ignore the Sword at our disposal.

Recall Satan’s method of planting the seed of doubt in Eve: “yea, hath God said?” And now consider how modern scholarship has planted seeds of doubt in believers about the trustworthiness of God’s words, in effect doing Satan’s bidding and asking, “yea, hath God said?”

Example: The deity of Jesus Christ

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Have you ever been asked by someone caught up in a cult about the deity of Christ? Where do you turn to to answer? Can you say “it is written?” The above scripture quotation is taken from the King James Bible and it leaves no doubt whatsoever about the deity of Christ. It is written: God was manifest in the flesh!

But what of the “other swords” Christians may use?

  • And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. (NASB)
  • Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (NIV)

Much has been written about the reading of this verse, but the point here is that the reading “he who” does not provide for an authoritative “it is written” rebuke. Just “who” is he? The scholars say that you can go to another verse or footnote to deduce who “he” is, and that may well be the case2. But those scholars have given you a dull sword: the one God has given us answers with one swift slash, while the others require thrusts upon thrusts to deliver a similar blow.

Example: The Triune Nature of God

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

Notice the powerfully decisive text of the King James Bible. In one verse, the very nature of God as a triune being is disclosed clearly. This is the most clear statement of the Trinity in the entire Bible. It is the only verse that mentions all three persons of the Godhead as being one. It should come as no surprise that the true reading of this verse has been viciously and ruthlessly under attack since the book of 1st John was written3. But what of the modern “swords?”

  • And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth. (NASB)
  • For there are three that testify: (NIV)

These modern swords, when it comes to the Trinity, are rusty and dull.

Instead of boldly proclaiming “it is written,” mounds of commentators have sheathed their swords with comments like these:

“It would be much easier to prove the doctrine of the Trinity from other texts, than to demonstrate the genuineness of this.” —Albert Barnes

“Though a conscientious believer in the doctrine of the ever blessed, holy, and undivided Trinity, and in the proper and essential Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, which doctrines I have defended by many, and even new, arguments in the course of this work, I cannot help doubting the authenticity of the text in question…” —Adam Clarke

“It is generally agreed that v.7 has no real authority, and has been inserted.” —C. I. Scofield

All three of the above commentators have generally good teachings in their writings, but they have all fallen prey to Satan’s attack on the veracity of Scripture in this instance. Contrast the unbelieving tone of the above statements with these bold writings:

an express testimony of the triune Deity, by whatsoever carelessness or ill design left out of some copies, but sufficiently demonstrated by many most ancient ones” —Matthew Poole

That there are three persons, yet but one God, that do bear witness to the divinity of Christ, and of the plenteous redemption wrought by him” —William Burkitt

“…which is to be understood, not only of their unity and agreement in their testimony, they testifying of the same thing, the sonship of Christ; but of their unity in essence or nature, they being the one God. So that, this passage holds forth and asserts the unity of God, a trinity of persons in the Godhead, the proper deity of each person, and their distinct personality, the unity of essence in that they are one; a trinity of persons in that they are three, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and are neither more nor fewer; the deity of each person, for otherwise their testimony would not be the testimony of God…” —John Gill

Mighty in the Scriptures or Just Disarmed?

Apollos was “mighty in the scriptures.” (Acts 18:24). One can scarcely imagine Apollos afraid to use the sword God gave him because a scholar claimed it wasn’t trustworthy. He “spoke boldly” (verse 18:26), and once he had the way of God expounded to him more perfectly, “he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” (verse 28)

The critic will argue that there are no doctrines missing from modern versions, and that even when one verse is weaker than in the KJV, the whole of the doctrine can be found elsewhere. But this attitude towards God’s word is not Scriptural. Modern scholarship cannot deny that its teachings are often started with “yea, hath God said?” When their new versions of the Bible contain footnotes telling the reader that the “oldest and best” manuscripts do not contain the last twelve verses of mark, or that 1st John 5:7 does not belong in the Bible, what is it except a seed of doubt? We have seen that this method of questioning what God said is Satan’s method for growing outright rebellion against God, as in the case of Eve’s deception. It is also clear that Satan wishes Christians to be ineffective warriors, and has been at work deceiving many into accepting defective weaponry. It is Satan’s goal to dull our sword, making us unwilling to trust it and wield it boldly.

Claiming that every doctrine is in there somewhere, each time something is weakened or deleted from the Bible, is not being “mighty in the scriptures.” Instead of clinging to a rusty, dull sword, boldly wield the complete and sharp sword of the Spirit: the King James Bible.


Footnotes:

1 Indeed, James White claims that the weaker reading is unimportant because the NIV and NASB include the stronger reading in the margin. (The King James Only Controversy, James R. White, Bethany House Publishers, 1995, p. 207) The question is why the seed of doubt should be allowed to be planted by contradicting the text in footnotes, and how long it will be before the footnote is removed entirely.

2 See http://av1611.com/kjbp/faq/holland_1jo5_7.html, excerpted from Crowned With Glory, Dr. Thomas Holland, Writers Club Press, 2000, pp. 163-168. See also John Reynolds’ comments on this verse (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 6).

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God’s Word has warned us that many Christians in the End Times will fall away from the faith. They will no longer tolerate sound doctrine, instead following false teachers. Here are just a few of the pertinent Scripture passages:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (II Tim. 4:3-4)

And:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…” {Eph. 4:14)

Below I have reposted an excellent article by T.A. McMahon, who ministers at The Berean Call with Dave Hunt. Click here for the original site of McMahon’s article. (Note: I learned about this article from Stand Up for the Truth.) Below I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Demise of Biblical Discernment

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In last month’s issue of this newsletter we exhorted our readers to discipline themselves to read the Word of God daily. The emphasis was on developing a habit, the best and most necessary habit—one that every believer should have. Of course, we encouraged reading the Bible as a basis for living one’s life by what it teaches, which is the only way that one who is born again spiritually can mature in the faith. Yet, here is the simple truth that too many Christians have missed: if we don’t read God’s Word for ourselves, we can’t truly know its instructions. If we don’t know God’s instructions, we can’t follow Him, and we therefore can’t do what pleases Him. Tragically, many if not most Christians haven’t considered that simple truth. Their spiritual beliefs tend to be a collection of things they’ve heard (sermons, radio, TV, books, movies, etc.) mixed with what they may or may not have gotten from the Bible. They have been spoon-fed rather than getting their spiritual meals directly from God’s Word.

Why is that tragic? Wouldn’t it be of value to get input from the various Christian media regarding the teachings of our Lord? Hasn’t our Lord gifted teachers to help believers better understand His Word? Certainly, but if that is our primary feeding of God’s Word, it leads to a spiritual anemia at best and makes us defenseless against spiritual deception at worst. How can a believer tell the difference between a good teacher and a false teacher? Although Scripture tells us that God gave some to be teachers (Ephesians:4:11), His Word also tells us, “There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies” (2 Peter:2:1). So how can we know what’s what and who’s who?

Most Christians are not asking such questions—nor do they seem to be concerned about the consequences related to a lack of biblical discernment. The second chapter of Hebrews begins with a warning that we could drift away from the Scriptures and find ourselves going along with something that seems biblical but is not. [“1) Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3) How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation…” (Heb. 2:1-3)] More and more frequently these days, I hear confessing and professing Christians excusing themselves and others for their unbiblical beliefs and practices by declaring that they all nevertheless “love Jesus.” What Jesus might that be? Is it the biblical Jesus—the One who declares that He is “ the way, the truth, and the life”? Is it the Word incarnate, who challenges everyone who professes to be a believer in Him by asking: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke:6:46). Would our reply be, “Sorry, Lord, I wasn’t aware of most of the things that you said”? If that’s the case, having “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians:2:16) is a wishful delusion.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, the heart of this article is a concern for the fruitfulness of everyone who truly knows the biblical Jesus, everyone who has by faith alone put his or her trust in Christ as Savior, the One, the only One, who could (and did) pay the full penalty for the sins of mankind. For those who have put their faith in Him and have received His gift of eternal life, what follows is their life in Christ , which is all about living a godly and productive life. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John:10:10). A believer’s fruitfulness not only greatly enriches his own life, but his new life in Christ becomes a testimony, a witness to the truth of the gospel that changed his life, so that others may be drawn to Jesus. Yet a believer’s life in Christ will be spiritually futile if he (or she) doesn’t really know what Jesus taught.

An unproductive life in Christ is bad enough, but it can go far beyond just being spiritually feeble. Not knowing the Word of God sets one up for being spiritually deceived. Again, it should be rather obvious: if we don’t know what the Bible says, we can’t discern what is true to it and what is contrary to it. Consequently, a person who is ignorant of the Scriptures is ripe for being led away from God’s truth. When such a condition becomes epidemic among Christians, they become collective pawns of God’s adversary, Satan, and participants in the apostasy as well as unwitting contributors to the emerging religion of the Antichrist (Revelation 13). But could such a thing happen?

Both Dave Hunt and I have been observing trends in the evangelical church for 35 years. In those three and a half decades significant developments have taken place, all of which have greatly undermined the belief in and dependence upon the Scriptures. We have documented such developments in the twenty years of TBC’s existence and five years prior to that in The Seduction of Christianity . In past articles we have shown from God’s Word that Satan’s primary strategy as the deceiver of mankind is reflected in his initial statement to Eve in the Garden of Eden, a tactic calculated to weaken her trust in God’s Word by questioning it: “Yea, hath God said…?” (Genesis:3:1). Down through history, he has expanded his assault on the Word beyond planting seeds of doubt to distorting, denigrating, corrupting, compromising, and outright lying about the Scriptures. In the last 30 years, some of his most effective devices have seduced Christians away from the written Word of God, replacing it with subjective and experiential content (feelings-oriented beliefs). Briefly (see our archives for more extensive writings on these subjects and others), that drift has been a major contributor to the demise of biblical discernment .

For example, the false teaching known as Rhema vs. Logos says that God speaks today to believers with the same or even greater authority than is found in the Bible. For decades this doctrine has led millions of Charismatic and Pentecostal believers away from the objective, written Word of God.

The subjective pseudoscience of Christian psychology, with its goal of integrating psychology with the Bible (primarily through psychological counseling), has infected the conservative evangelical church with the humanistic doctrines of self-love and self-esteem. Even more damaging, it has all but eliminated the belief in the sufficiency of the Scriptures for multitudes of Christians.

The Church Growth Movement (the attempt to increase church membership through various consumer-oriented devices aimed primarily at meeting the “felt needs” of the lost) has turned to the “way that seemeth right unto a man” (read marketing ) in opposition to God’s way. That development has been a major factor in ushering man’s so-called wisdom into the church and distancing it from the Scriptures.

The youth-oriented Emerging Church Movement (ECM) is an attempt at supposedly reaching the “culture” for Christ by emulating that culture and much of its worldly affinities. ECM writers (many of whom have conservative evangelical backgrounds) have advocated  “reinventing Christianity” in order to reconcile it with what the world believes and acts upon socially, psychologically, politically, morally, scientifically, and theologically. Because it claims absolute authority in its doctrines , the Bible itself is the chief obstacle to the ECM, and therefore “must be re-imagined” in order to accommodate man’s thinking. Such distortion of God’s Word is deceptively tragic for a generation of young Christians, few of whom have been discipled in the faith.

These are just a few of Satan’s most successful assaults against the doctrines of the Bible and the people of God. Should anyone be surprised that the Adversary would be so effective among those who profess to be Christians? Shocked perhaps, but not surprised. When an army lacks training, discipline, and is ill equipped to do battle, should it come as a surprise that the enemy is taking many of its soldiers captive? [Read Ephesians Chapter 6 for Paul’s description of the spiritual weapons we should be using.]

Let’s spell out the problem in spiritual terms once again: lack of training (no discipleship), lack of discipline (not reading the Scriptures daily), and being ill equipped (mishandling the Sword of the Spirit). [I would add “using a defective Sword” i.e. inaccurate Bible per-versions]. But don’t take my word for it! Let’s go to God’s infallible Word. Regarding the particular time when biblical truth will be abandoned by great numbers in the church who have been deceived, Jesus gives us a sobering warning, characterizing the last days prior to His return in these words: “Take heed that no man deceive you….” He then adds that the deception will be so great that the very elect will be vulnerable (Matthew:24:4,24). Furthermore, most of the epistles also address the subject of believers drifting away from sound doctrine.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ” (2 Timothy:4:3). Paul is obviously speaking to the church. Those in the church who do not study the Scriptures for themselves cannot endure (take to heart and live out) sound doctrine (God’s instructions). He wrote to the church at Ephesus, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine , by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians:4:14).

Scripture seems to be making it quite clear that not enduring sound doctrine opens one up to spiritual deception. To the Ephesian elders Paul issues a warning of what would take place after his departing: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts:20:28-30). This was Paul’s parting warning to his beloved Ephesian believers, a message of critical concern for their future in Christ. Paul knew what devastating destruction would result from their turning to false doctrine. It was a message that he preached continuously and tearfully during his three years with them.

Those who do “endure sound doctrine,” besides having the primary foundation for a fruitful life in Christ, are also equipped to discern and resist the wiles of the Adversary’s many deceptions. That’s the good news. The not-so-pleasant news is that they will find themselves on the front lines of a spiritual battle that is increasing in intensity daily. One need only conduct a cursory review of the Scriptures and later church history to get an idea of how destructive, even deadly, have been the consequences related to the church’s non-adherence to biblical doctrine. We see many reacting today by claiming that it is the doctrines of the Bible themselves, especially when they are accepted dogmatically, that create division. Such thinking is a fulfillment of “not enduring sound doctrine.” It is false doctrine itself that divides because it separates a believer from the truth.

Paul clears up the misconception: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans:16:17). Incredibly, it is that verse, misapplied, that has been used against the multitudes who have contacted us because their church leadership would not hear their concerns regarding false doctrines and programs that had entered their fellowship. Most have been threatened with “disfellowship” for actually enduring sound doctrine. Such situations are intensifying throughout the church, undoubtedly for some of the reasons listed in this article but perhaps in fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” (1 Peter:4:17).

Although for decades we at TBC have been exhorting and encouraging believers to be Bereans (i.e., to check out everything they are being taught by searching the Scriptures—Acts:17:10-11), we too have experienced the increased intensity of the spiritual battle and witnessed its exponential growth. The latest issue, which we submit to you for prayer support, is a threatened lawsuit over the book we published by David James ( The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? ). The complaint is that the author used too many quotes from the New York Times best-selling book, The Harbinger , without permission from author “rabbi” Jonathan Cahn and publisher Charisma Media Publications (CMP). The complaint further states that our use of the quotes has inhibited the sales of The Harbinger and has thus financially damaged Cahn and CMP in an amount yet to be determined. In effect, we are being told that we must limit our documentation in warning the body of Christ of the biblical errors in The Harbinger. In other words, we cannot be Bereans or like the watchman of Ezekiel:3:17-19 without Cahn’s permission.

This is the first time in my 35 years of working with Dave Hunt and our addressing nearly every major religion, religious cult, aberrational Christian sect, unbiblical trend, religious publication, book, media production, etc., that any organization or individual has even hinted at suing us. Now, however, we are being threatened with legal action by those claiming to be in the church. More critical than the unbiblical action of a brother threatening to take another brother to court (1 Corinthians 6) is the issue of preventing the biblical evaluation of a work that is influencing hundreds of thousands of professing and confessing Christians, as well as those who don’t profess to know Christ. We have hired a copyright attorney to address the legal issues and have responded to the attorney for Cahn and CMP. Even so, we covet your prayers that the Lord will be glorified throughout the process.

As the spiritual battle rages around us, the Word of God gives us directives regarding how we are to function in it. Paul gives Timothy general instructions: “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy:1:13). In ministering correction, he writes: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy:2:24-26). Then there may be times that, as the Spirit leads us, tougher action is to be taken: “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee…” (Titus:2:15). Titus was to minister the Word of God to his flock, his authority was the Scriptures, and he was exhorted to stand fast in them that he not be despised for backing away from sound doctrine.

Our prayer is that all who name the name of our Lord Jesus Christ will follow Paul’s encouragement to Timothy and to us as well: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine… Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee… Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (1 Timothy:4:13,16; 2 Timothy:4:2).   TBC

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