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Archive for the ‘False Teachers in the EFCI’ Category

 PAGAN PRAYER BEADS AND PAGAN ROSARY BEADS
In recent years, a prayer tool called the “Pearls of Life” has become more common, particularly in the Emerging/Emergent Church movements. The Pearls of Life are an ecumenical Lutheran prayer beads/rosary. Unfortunately, the Pearls of Life (like every kind of prayer beads/rosaries) has occultic pagan origins and is used in an occultic contemplative way.

Before looking at prayer beads/rosaries in general, let’s look at the Pearls of Life. My first thoughts upon hearing about this were:

1) The Pearls of Life seem to be a Protestant version of the Catholic rosary (which is occultic and idolatrous). Many of the heresies of the Rosary will also be heresies of the Pearls of Life.

2) Both the Pearls of Life and the Catholic rosary involve ritual (which is occultic).

3) I assume the Pearls of Life, like the Catholic rosary, are viewed as a “means of grace.” They both involve salvation by works (people falsely believe they can get to Heaven by doing works).

Let’s look at the invention of the Pearls of Life. I found the following excerpt here. Note – throughout this blog, I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

“This site is about Pearls of Life – an ecumenical rosary from Sweden. For better description there is a basic book of Pearls of Life by Martin Lönnebo [if he is heretical, his invention the Pearls of Life will be heretical], which you can order from a Swedish Publishing company VERBUM.

Martin Lönnebo, Lutheran emeritus bishop in Sweden, was considering what could help us in praying, what a person needs when he/she is distressed, how the church could support young parents to pray with their children… And he made a conclusion that a rosary could be a practical device for these purposes, and also a help in spiritual training [perhaps he was thinking of Richard Foster’s occultic Spiritual Formation], which he finds even more important than physical or mental training.

He named the rosary “Frälsarkransen”, which means “The Wreath of Christ” (the name is in Norway and in Denmark “Kristuskransen”). He wanted to emphasise the meaning of silence in prayer. Praying is not only speaking in words, it is being in front of God, with empty hands, listening. Just being. Seeing and touching the beads ease to concentrate and remember the most important things in life…”

And following are excerpts providing more details, found here:

The “Pearls of Life” (in Swedish, they are known as frälsarkransen, which means “the lifebuoy”) were invented by Bishop Martin Lönnebo of the Church of Sweden [in 1996]… Bishop Martin had long been interested in the spirituality of the Eastern Church and fascinated by the mixture of formality and informality in Orthodox worship, with its candles and icons and prayer beads, and he set about designing what became a “prayer bracelet”. After trial and error, he finally decided on a set of eighteen beads in which he summarised the message of the Christian faith.

Bishop Martin wanted a tangible means of communicating that faith, and from his studies of eastern spirituality he knew something of the ways in which beads are used as aids to prayer in world religions. In Islam, a rope of 33 beads enables Muslims to focus their prayers on the 99 Beautiful Names of God. there are similar aids to Hindu and Buddhist devotion. In Western Christianity the Rosary holds pride of place. It has a whole literature devoted to it, mostly by Roman Catholic writers, but with significant contributions from Anglican writers such as Austin Farrer and from the Methodist Neville Ward. In the Eastern Church ropes of “prayer knots” are an aid for those who wish to fulfil St Paul’s injunction to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), running through the rhythms of the Jesus Prayer.

Martin Lönnebo’s “Pearls of Life” are very different from the Rosary. There is no single prescribed way of using them as there is for the Rosary. They are, Bishop Martin insists, “a lifebelt not fetters”. Those who have sufficient leisure can work their way in prayer round the bracelet. In other circumstances it may be more appropriate to focus on a single bead or group of beads. They aren’t only a way of praying. They can also be used as a framework for teaching. The beads can be linked to stages in the life of Jesus, as well as opening up Christian experience. In the Church of Sweden, and in North Germany, they are widely used as an aid to catechesis. Our partner diocese of Växjö (which is, incidentally, immediately south of Bishop Martin’s former diocese of Linköping) has used it for some years now as a basis for preparing young people for their confirmation. Their great advantage is that they are discreet, and they are portable. They can be carried in a handbag or a pocket or they can be worn, like any bracelet, on the wrist.

The “Pearls of Life” are a means of developing prayer, deepening faith and broadening understanding. Some who use them do so at the beginning or end of the day. Some find them a helpful framework for a prayerful reflection on the events of the day that has just passed. Others like to focus on particular beads on particular days (for example, the Resurrection pearl on a Sunday)…

So what is the problem with prayer beads/rosaries? The problem is, they are a contemplative aid. Thus all Christian-based prayer bead/rosaries are occultic. It doesn’t matter whether they are Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican or whatever – they all work the same way.

I found additional excerpts here, which describe the specific dangers of all prayer beads/rosaries.  (Although this article mainly discusses Tony Campolo, it also includes some very insightful info about prayer beads/rosaries):

To enter this “spiritual realm” [of Richard Foster’s contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality] it is essential for the participant to empty the mind of all thoughts, as well as lay aside Biblical notions on sin, Jesus Christ, grace and salvation. There are a host of web sites aimed at Christians [there are more than 78,000 such sites on the topic]. Advocates suggest that instead of a “sacred word” you could use the Stations of the Cross as a labyrinth tool for prayer, or Anglican Prayer Beads. These prayer methods are closely akin to the Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Wheel [which can be purchased on line for $25 ~ free shipping]. Just think of it: For only $25 you can contact God!

All of these “methods” to be employed in our prayer lives are intended to make us feel good about God ~ any God. And if we feel good about him, he obviously feels good about us. An ELCA web site tells us: “When most people think of prayer beads the Roman Catholic Rosary is most likely to come to mind – or perhaps Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu Prayer beads. Eastern Orthodox prayer ropes or beads are also very popular. But, the use of prayer beads is increasing among people of many faith traditions,…”
 
Through contemplative prayer in its various forms and practices we readily find the connection between Catholics, Buddhists, Lutherans, Moslems, Episcopals, Hindus and Evangelicals.
 
The ELCA [Evangelical Lutheran Church of America] site goes on to say that the “use of prayer beads creates a rhythm that discourages distractions and focuses attention so that the one who prays can more readily move into God’s presence.”
 
The Bible-believer wants to know: Where is the God of the Bible in all this? Is He equally present in all religions, able to be contacted by Moslems and Buddhists in the same way that a Christian comes to know Him through Jesus Christ? And what about Jesus? Did He need to die? Why, if God can be contacted using a method, what did Jesus’ death do for us?…

See also this detailed Wikipedia article, describing the occultic, contemplative use of prayer beads/rosaries in a number of world religions.

The book Praying with Beads by Nan Lewis Doerr and Virginia Stem Owens (pp. vii-ix) also discuss the pagan history of prayer beads/rosaries. Click here to read online.

FOR FURTHER READING

Heresies of the Catholic rosary

Detailed Catholic article explaining and endorsing the Catholic rosary

Wikipedia article on the Catholic rosary

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Update 11/07/12: Malone University still publicizes itself as a born again Christian school. Yet today I noticed Malone’s library has a display of 13 books by Emergent heretic Tony Campolo. Why? Read on.
————————————————————————————————
On 10/28/12 The Repository ran an article by Denise Sautters entitled “King era begins at Malone.” Towards the end of the article, I was struck by a comment from Dr. David King, being inaugurated 10/28/12 as Malone’s 13th president (1). (The latter part of this press release explains the presidential search process by Malone’s Board of Trustees; the press release does not mention how many of the Trustees were on the search committee.) Dr. King states:

“… [having time at a university before one’s inauguration] gives the president time to … develop a vision for the university.”

With all due respect, how biblically sound is Dr. King’s vision for Malone University? (2) Does it match the original vision of J. Walter Malone, the university’s founder? Based on his first year at Malone (prior to his inauguration), my impression is that Dr. King (along with a number of other presidents, faculty and staff) is taking Malone down a theological path far different from that envisioned by J. Walter Malone. I truly believe that J. Walter Malone’s dream for a born again, separatist Fundamentalist, Wesleyan Holiness, Evangelical Friends theological legacy is very close to being lost. (In addition, various heresies are entering the EFC-ER through routes other than Malone University.) How tragic!

Question: Emergent heretic Tony Campolo spoke at Malone University 09/28/12. Does this provide clues to new president Dr. King’s “vision for the university”? Read on…
——————————————-
Tony Campolo Like many discerning Christians (especially “fundies”/fundamentalists), I was shocked and angered by Charita Goshay’s prominent article favoring Emergent heretic Tony Campolo in The Repository Saturday 09/29/12. Her article summarized Campolo’s speech to Malone University students 09/28/12. (Malone University is an Evangelical Friends/EFCI school; Tony Campolo taught at new Malone president David King’s former school – Eastern University.)

“Church articles” are usually hidden away on the inside pages of The Repository‘s Section B each Saturday, on the so called “Faith and Values” pages. Yet Ms. Goshay’s article was prominently displayed on the front page of Section B (along with a blurb on the newspaper’s front page pointing readers to the article about Campolo). Apparently Ms. Goshay (and/or The Repository) knows that Campolo is a popular speaker. I am very disappointed – and angry – that Goshay did not write a more objective article, pointing out Campolo’s heresies and including statements from opponents.

Another problem – for me Goshay’s article raises more questions than it answers. For starters:

1) Was this event publicized beforehand, or was it an “inside event” only publicized to Malone students and parents? If  Campolo’s speech was not publicized on a wider scale, why wasn’t it?

I did find this description of the event here, in the Schedule for Parents’ Weekend:

2-3 p.m. [Fri. 09/28/12] –  Tony Campolo Speaking, Johnson Center Sanctuary. Dr. Campolo is a speaker, author, sociologist, and pastor. Over his many years of Christian service, Tony has boldly challenged millions of people all over the world to respond to God’s boundless love by combining personal discipleship, evangelism, and social justice. He will speak and then take time for questions from our students.

Note Malone’s positive description of Campolo. They could have said something like “this controversial Emergent leader is coming to Malone to debate his liberal views with Malone’s Professor so-and-so” (ala Brian McLaren’s debate at Malone). Yet Malone did not say this with Campolo.

2) Goshay’s article consists almost entirely of “born again Christianese” quotes from Campolo. Yet Campolo is an extremely heretical Emergent, on par with Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, etc. Did Goshay leave out Campolo’s mainline/liberal/Emergent statements, or was Campolo’s entire speech “born again Christianese”?

4) Is Campolo’s entire speech (or a transcript of it) available online?

5) Did any Malone students protest Campolo’s coming to speak? (If so I’d like to meet them – we have a kindred spirit.)

6) In Campolo’s Q&A session, were opponents allowed to voice their  concerns about his heresies?

7) What individual(s) invited Campolo to come speak at Malone? Did the individual(s) not know that Campolo had a theological stance (heretical Emergent teachings) incompatible with what Malone has claimed to believe at least in the past? (For example, Campolo’s favoring the LGBT movement – an issue Malone has claimed it opposes.) Malone does seem to be changing in various ways – I’m not sure what specific individuals are pushing this change. (Check out their current Mission and Foundational Principles, for example.)

8) David King was recently hired as Malone University President. King was previously an employee of Eastern University, where the heretical Campolo taught for ten years. (In fact, the graduate department at Eastern University is named after Campolo.) Did King’s coming to Malone have anything to do with Campolo coming to speak?  Or was that just a coincidence? (And how about Betsy Morgan, professor emerita of English at EU, coming to speak at Dr. King’s Inaugural Symposium – was that also just a coincidence?)

Campolo Emergent and heretical

Just how Emergent/heretical is Tony Campolo? Here’s a clue: Campolo is an ordained minister in the mainline/liberal American Baptist Churches USA denomination. Note this description of the denomination, found here:

Generally considered more liberal than the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. is a member of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and of the World Council of Churches. It has taken an active part in ecumenical affairs and has worked for closer union among the various Baptist groups.

In 1998 the denomination adopted an “American Baptist Identity Statement” that sought to summarize the Christian faith representative of American Baptists. This was amended in 2005 to include a statement about homosexuality…

“Fundies” have a right to be critical of Campolo. In his book Letters to a Young Evangelical (2006), Campolo devotes Chapter 9 to describing and criticizing Fundamentalists. The chapter is entitled “Being Rescued from Fundamentalism”; the entire chapter is viewable online. Malone University was strongly separatist fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness between approx. 1892-1942. Any Malone alumnus who loves Evangelical Friends of this time period should be offended by Campolo’s criticisms of fundamentalism.

For those who are still not convinced that Campolo is extremely heretical, consider these quotes from Campolo (click here for another blog of mine dealing with Campolo and other Emergents):

“Going to heaven is like going to Philadelphia… There are many ways…It doesn’t make any difference how we go there. We all end up in the same place.” 1a

“On the other hand, we are hard-pressed to find any biblical basis for condemning deep love commitments between homosexual Christians as long as those commitments are not expressed in sexual intercourse.” 1b

“But the overwhelming population of the gay community that love Jesus, that go to church, that are deeply committed in spiritual things, try to change and can’t change…” 1c

“…we want to see God at work converting society, converting the systems, so that there aren’t the racist overtones, the economic injustices, the polluting of the atmosphere.” 1d

“I learn about Jesus from other religions. They speak to me about Christ, as well.”1e

“I’m not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians.” 1f

1a CarpeDiem: Seize the Day, 1994 page 85;
1b “20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid To Touch” page 117;
1c Beliefnet.com/faith/Christianity 08/2004;
1d MSNBC 2008 interview;
1e MSNBC 2008 interview;
1f Charlie Rose show 1/24/97

(Tony Campolo is an author, professor of Sociology at Eastern College, former spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton, and a leader of the movement called “Red Letter Christians”.)

Campolo’s lack of adherence to Eastern University’s Doctrinal Statement

(Click here for the Doctrinal Statement and ending Sections; to me the Doctrinal Statement sounds biblically sound for the most part – even if many Eastern University employees do not truly follow it)

Note the following two sections below. David King and Tony Campolo had to sign Eastern University’s Doctrinal Statement annually. I don’t know much about King, but it is obvious from Campolo’s writings that Campolo (like many employees of the liberal Eastern University I’m sure) does not hold the born again Christian beliefs stated in the Doctrinal Statement. Yet Campolo taught at Eastern University for ten years; they even honored him by naming their graduate college after him.

Apparently signing the Doctrinal Statement is like taking an oath in court (“I promise to tell the truth… so help me God”), or like making a wedding vow (“I promise to love you… till death do us part”). Signing Eastern University’s Doctrinal Statement annually seems to mean nothing to many employees there. I believe signing a Doctrinal Statement such as this, when you do not truly believe it, is a very serious offense against the Lord.

[In the excerpts below, I have emphasized certain points by bolding.]

SECTION II

Every member of the Board of Trustees, every administrative officer of the Institution, professor, teacher, and instructor shall annually subscribe over his or her signature to the Doctrinal Statement, excepting only that a non-Baptist individual occupying any of the foregoing positions shall not be required to subscribe to that part of the Doctrinal Statement regarding the mode of water baptism.

SECTION III

Whenever a member of the Board of Trustees, administrative officer, professor, teacher or instructor is not in complete accord with the foregoing Doctrinal Statement, he or she shall forthwith withdraw from all connections with the University, and his or her failure to do so shall constitute grounds for immediate removal from such positions by the Trustees.

ENDNOTES

(1) Malone’s 13 presidents are:
1) J. Walter Malone (1892-1918)
2) Edgar Wollam (1918-1921)
3) C.W. Butler (1921-1936)
4) Worthy A. Spring (1936-1948)
5) G. Arnold Hodgin (1948-1951)
6) Byron L. Osborne (1951-1960)
7) Everett L. Cattell (1960-1972)
8) Lon Randall (1972-1981)
9) Gordon R. Werkema (1981-1988)
10) Arthur Self (1988-____)
11) Ron Johnson (____-____)
12)  Gary W. Streit (_____-2010)
12a) Provost Will Friesen, Ph.D., Interim (2010-2012)
13) Dr. David King, (2012-     )

Sources: #1-7: Ohio Yearly Meeting Quaker Sesqui-centennial Commemorative publication, 1962, p.  43
#8,9: EFC-ER 175th Anniversary Commemorative publication, 1987, p. 32
#9:  Founded by Friends: The Quaker Heritage of Fifteen American Colleges and Universities, by John William Oliver, Charles L. Cherry, Caroline L. Cherry, 1970. p. 215 (viewable online)
#10,11: personal conversations with Malone associates
#12,12a: Malone University Welcomes 13th President: David King

(2) Another clue concerning Dr. King’s vision for Malone – and Malone’s vision for itself – is given here:

According to Board Chair Steven Steer, “Dr. King’s depth and breadth of experience seem to have converged with Malone’s vision for the future in a divine appointment.” King says it was Malone’s foundational principals that speak to the integration of faith, learning, and experiential activism that ultimately drew him to the University. Those words resonated within him, and it has not taken him long to embrace the University’s mission as his own.

Frankly, this sounds rather ambiguous to me. To get more specific, it seems to me Malone and Dr. King are pushing the envelope of contemplative spirituality (ala Richard Foster) and the Emerging/Emergent movement.

FOR FURTHER READING

I will be compiling a list of discernment articles about Tony Campolo’s heresies and providing the links here. For starters:

Apprising Ministries – various discernment blogs about Campolo

Let Us Reason Ministries – various articles about Campolo

Lighthouse Trails – article about Campolo

Manny Silva – various  discernment blogs about Campolo

A list of Google hits – articles about Campolo’s endorsement of occultish, contemplative centering prayer (click here for a discernment article exposing centering prayer)

Eastern University’s ringing endorsement of their Emergent darling Tony Campolo

2007: Mennonite Emergent Conversation (with representatives mostly from the liberal Mennonite Church USA denomination) held at Eastern University

2008: Campolo’s stint as featured speaker at 2008 Yearly Meeting of NWYM (the most liberal/Emergent Region of the Evangelical Friends denomination)

2012: Eastern University receives a grant to study occultish contemplative labyrinth prayer

The Repository‘s article mentions that Campolo has written 39 books. I am looking for a complete list of his writings (hopefully with content viewable online). (Admittedly, Campolo is a very readable writer; his books explain heretical Emergent teachings in laymen’s terms.)

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For anyone who doubts the love Spiritual Formation’s heretical Richard Foster has for Northwest Yearly Meeting of the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) and George Fox Universityand vice versa – consider the following excerpt from a web page reposted below:

Richard is a former pastor of  Newberg Friends Church, which is part of the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church (NWYM), and, as a graduate of George Fox, he has chosen to house his papers at the combined archives of the University and the NWYM.

Question: I wonder if discernment ministries will be allowed access to Foster’s archives, to write critiques of him. Consider the following procedural guideline, mentioned below:

Use of the Collection: Correspondence is restricted. Materials must be reviewed by the archivist before use.

Click here for the original source of the info reposted below.

Guide to the Richard J. Foster Papers

Sponsored by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

Richard J. Foster is the author of several books, which have appealed to a wide audience since the 1978 publication of Celebration of Discipline. Although he is ecumenical in focus, his works often reflect Quaker precepts that are described as an attempt to “promote a balanced understanding of the Christian faith.”

Foster is the founder of Renovare, an effort working for the renewal of the Church in all her multifaceted expressions. He has written numerous magazine articles, taught spiritual formation classes at several universities, and spoken in venues around the world. Richard is a former pastor of  Newberg Friends Church, which is part of the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church (NWYM), and, as a graduate of George Fox, he has chosen to house his papers at the combined archives of the University and the NWYM.

Collection Overview

The collection includes the following materials from Foster’s writing and speaking career:

  • manuscripts
  • writings
  • research materials
  • schedules of speaking engagements
  • interviews
  • invitations
  • calendars
  •  brochures
  • correspondence
  • photographs and media

Collection Quantity:

  • 64.25 cubic feet
  • 28 record boxes, 34 document boxes, 7 file drawers

Language: English

Future Additions: Further accruals are expected.

Use of the Collection: Correspondence is restricted. Materials must be reviewed by the archivist before use.

Subjects

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings:

  • Foster, Richard J.–Archives
  • Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church
  • Renovare
  • Quaker
  • Spiritual formation


Contact:
Zoie Clark, GFU/NWDA Archives — zclark@georgefox.edu, 503-554-2415

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(revised 12/19/12)

Attending Evangelical Friends (EFCI) churches back in the 1960s (before they left their first love), I remember salvation messages about “the Blood and the Cross”, as well as hymns of Calvary such as “Power in the Blood“, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood“, etc.

Today “The Blood and The Cross” message – the blunt, straightforward, bloody gospel message of repentance-of-sin and salvation that offends and convicts sinners – is seldom heard in the EFCI (particularly the ultra-liberal Northwest Yearly Meeting aka NWYM) and other evangelical denominations.  Sermons, hymns and tracts about Calvary used to be common, but no longer.

Today most evangelical pastors have become deeply entrenched in the Emerging/Emergent church movements. These pastors seldom use these terms in their sermons: sin, judgment, perish, eternal damnation, Hell, Lake of Fire, repentance of sin, the Blood, the Cross, etc. It seems these pastors are hesitant to offend or turn off unsaved seekers in their congregations/audiences, for fear they’ll scurry off to churches which are “less offensive.”

I know of a large Evangelical Friends church which – praise the Lord – was offering a series of classes in “evangelism training.” Yet when this church obtained a new pastor, the pastor discontinued the evangelism training classes. Now the church has many “fun” activities (Life Groups for devotees of amateur radio, classic cars,  scrapbooking, etc.) Apparently the pastor wants unsaved seekers to become involved in “fun” secular activities alongside born again church members, become comfortable attending seeker sensitive church services, then eventually be presented with the “full” salvation message. But when is this “full” salvation message presented by the church? I have never heard “hellfire and brimstone” preaching from the pastor, nor the “bloody” message of Christ on Calvary (picture the movie “The Passion of the Christ.”)

Frankly, Pastor, you (like so many other Emerging/Emergents today) are way off track. For sinners to repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Saviour, to truly become born again, you must preach an “offensive” gospel of  “the Blood and the Cross” that will be hated by  unsaved church attenders who insist on remaining in their sin. And unsaved seekers don’t need to be “eased in” to a church setting – they need confronted head on, as soon as possible, with the so-called “negative” message of the Blood and the Cross.

This pertinent excerpt is from a post by my Facebook Friend John Henderson, posted  here   09/24/12:

“That old Baptist preacher didn’t pull any punches when he dangled my feet over the flames of Hell. I am glad that he did. It was what I needed. I had already been hearing soothing and nice things from other “preachers” and remained lost. I needed to know and feel that I was lost and, when I did, it was a simple matter to run to the Cross.

Believe me, if the church has failed to reach the world it is right here. We do not need to come up with something more appealing to the world; we need to revive and sharpen the only things that will pierce their hearts with holy conviction so they know the choices are clear.”

Following are some more excerpts along this line, from A.W. Tozer. (Tozer had his flaws. He was not perfect, but I don’t know of any godly preacher or writer who ever has been.) These excerpts are from “The Old Cross and the New”, by A. W. Tozer. Click here (Berit Kjos’ website) for the original source of these excerpts. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Excerpts from …

The Old Cross and The New

                     By A. W. Tozer

This wise saint went to be with the Lord in 1963. His messages were written more than forty years ago, yet they are as relevant now as they were then!


Unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique — a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill-seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him. What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ….

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we… alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.  


“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Info on the above article, found here:

NOTE: This article first appeared in The Alliance Witness in 1946.  It has been printed in virtually every English-speaking country in the world and has been put into tract form by various publishers, including Christian Publications, Inc.  It still appears now and then in the religious press.

FOR FURTHER READING

Some comments on “The Old Cross and the New”

A.W. Tozer, The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ  – This book contains, under one cover, many essays by Tozer about the Atonement and related doctrines.

These are just a few of the many essays included:

“The Cross Does Interfere”
“The Cross is a Radical Thing”
“Each His Own Cross”

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Below I’ve reposted Ken Silva’s blog re: a great testimony by an Episcopalian. I especially like the expose of Dallas Willard, who was once an Evangelical Friends (EFCI) co-pastor with Richard Foster – and Foster’s mentor in heretical, occultish Spiritual Formation. Willard downplays and criticizes the gospel of salvation, of “the Blood and the Cross.” Check out this excerpt, in which Brian McLaren refers to Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy:

Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, [Willard] says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God. – Brian McLaren (Online source)[emphasis mine]

[For some anti-Cross views of Brian McLaren’s, an Evangelical Friends adjunct professor, see the Endnotes below.]

Dallas Willard, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Tony Campolo, and other Emergents have been making the rounds of the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) as well as many other evangelical denominations. (Richard Foster is retired I think.)

For years, pastors in the EFCI and many other evangelical denominations have been New Evangelical/Emerging – often DOWNPLAYING/OMITTING the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross” (except perhaps during Easter time) so they don’t turn off unsaved “seekers” and send them scurrying off to “less offensive” churches.

Willard, McLaren, Sweet, Campolo, and other Emergents seem to be drawing New Evangelical/Emerging pastors (in the EFCI and elsewhere) further into apostacy, to become mainline/liberal/Emergent, to actually CRITICIZE the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross.” Scary – and blasphemous.

Back to Ken Silva’s blog. The testimony giver proceeds to describe Episcopalian coworkers as follows:

I went to work for an Episcopal church shortly after college… I think I finally understand how they think, how they can put so much emphasis on the kingdom of God (which they define as service to others) and virtually ignore the sinful conduct rampant here (‘wedding’ reception for a gay couple here next week). These people, my co-workers and friends, believe in an inner light, a True Self (I remember that term from class) that is intimately connected to the Divine. Everyone has this light, so we are all a part of God. As such, there is no need for a substitutionary penal atonement (i.e. the cross) because there is no separation to atone for.

This teaching sounds almost identical to the teaching of the various non-evangelical Quaker denominations. Interesting.

I have reposted Ken Silva’s entire blog below. Click here for the original site of this blog.

AM TESTIMONY RE. CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM

By on Sep 13, 2012 in AM Missives, Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, Current Issues, Features

One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.(Galatians 6:6)

In the interest of showing that things are not all bad, may the Lord be praised as a reader of Apprising Ministries shares the following encouraging testimony of God’s faithfulness:

Thank you for your website. I have been using it to further my personal study for some time now. It has truly been a blessing.

I was raised in a Bible-believing church and home, saved as a child and a missionary as a teenager, so I was first exposed to this sort of emerging spirituality when I went to work for an Episcopal church shortly after college. The lead priest there (along with several others) routinely teaches courses covering all kinds of mysticism and contemplative spirituality. He invited me to attend one of his classes, so I did.

Nothing he taught in that class made me feel comfortable, although I couldn’t put my finger on a reason. Several times in my notes, I wrote, “What about the cross?” Nearly two years have passed and I still couldn’t figure out why this place, my workplace, makes my spirit uneasy. The people here are loving and kind, they do great acts of service in the community. Yet there is something missing.

Today I read your article Brian McLaren and Evangelical Panentheism and this quote you referenced made it all begin to click:

Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in The Divine Conspiracy. Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God.

I think I finally understand how they think, how they can put so much emphasis on the kingdom of God (which they define as service to others) and virtually ignore the sinful conduct rampant here (‘wedding’ reception for a gay couple here next week). These people, my co-workers and friends, believe in an inner light, a True Self (I remember that term from class) that is intimately connected to the Divine. Everyone has this light, so we are all a part of God. As such, there is no need for a substitutionary penal atonement (i.e. the cross) because there is no separation to atone for.

It follows, then, that the only “sins” we commit are those that do harm to others (ergo, to God), which is why they can, without so much as a flinch, condone homosexuality but at the same time condemn those (like me) who fail to practice “tolerance” because we insist that there are such thing as moral absolutes. It is also why they can place acts of service (e.g. to the poor – extremely important here) above acts of evangelism (which display intolerance of others’ belief systems).

Contrast this with my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that we are born sinners, are separated from God, and are in need of a Savior to reconcile us to Him. I do believe in a “Punitive Father” but one who only punishes when rejected after repeated attempts to redeem us – and even then it is less punishment than letting us have our own way. To those that call out to Him, He is merciful and loving and wants to show us the boundlessness of His grace – but only to those who accept His gift of salvation.

As I said, I’d been searching for nearly two years for a way to wrap my mind around what seems to be a warped – but strangely appealing – theological view. Your article made it fall into place for me. Thank you so much for your faithful service to God through your website.

Further reading

ENDNOTES

Dallas Willard and Brian McLaren both have Evangelical Friends connections. And both have an anti-Cross theology. Check out this excerpt regarding McLaren, in this blog by Ken Silva. Silva writes:

… This would then be a credible explanation for McLaren’s own personal hedging whenever he’s asked about the Gospel:

Theory of Atonement

Could you elaborate on your personal theory of atonement? If God wanted to forgive us, why didn’t he just forgive us? Why did torturing Jesus make things better?

This is such an important and difficult question. I’d recommend, for starters, you read “Recovering the Scandal of the Cross” (by Baker and Green). There will be a sequel to this book in the next year or so, and I’ve contributed a chapter to it.

Short answer: I think the gospel is a many faceted diamond, and atonement is only one facet, and legal models of atonement (which predominate in western Christianity) are only one small portion of that one facet.

Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in “The Divine Conspiracy.” Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God. (Online source)

 

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(revised 04/06/17)

I remember growing up in the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) denomination. As late as the 1960s, we would often sing the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. One of the verses contains the phrase “though none go with me, still I will follow.” That is how I feel nowadays about the EFCI – that I am walking alone. (Actually I no longer belong to the denomination, but am trying to reach the denomination since so many of my relatives and friends still belong.)

I’m sure there are born again, biblically sound, spiritually mature Christians in the EFCI.  But for the most part, churches in the EFCI have not stayed close to their first love (especially in Northwest Yearly Meeting, where contemplative heretic Richard Foster first became popular). Specifically, I have heard of very few EFCI churches that preach and sing every Sunday about our blood-bought salvation, the bloody atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary to save (rescue from eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire) those who sincerely repent of their sins. I hear very few passionate invitations to unsaved attenders/seekers/sinners to turn from their sinful ways and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord. And it has been decades since I’ve seen an EFCI tract rack with “hellfire and brimstone” tracts, or heard Evangelical Friends singing old-time gospel hymns such as “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood.”

Regarding the loss of emphasis on “the Blood and the Cross” – not just in the EFCI but in many evangelical denominations – I have reposted an excellent sermon on this below. Click here for the original source of the sermon. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Offense of the Cross
by Josef Urban

“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased” (Galatians 5:11). Paul’s Gospel had teeth. It bit hard into the kingdom of darkness and ripped chunks from it wherever it came. He didn’t make his message smooth and soft in order to suit the fancies of the religious majority. His Gospel was a sharp word that exalted Christ, lifted the cross up high, proclaimed total commitment to Christ the King, and utterly stripped man of all self-reliance, shattering self-righteousness, tearing down false religion, and leaving men stripped bare before God in utter dependence on His free grace alone to save them.

And of course, with a Gospel like this, Paul suffered persecution wherever he went. Yet he didn’t dare water-down the potency of the truth of God. He didn’t compromise his message in order to make it more acceptable to the people. He didn’t pervert it to make it look pretty. He proclaimed, “This is the way, the only way! Walk ye in it!” and pronounced a thundering “Anathema!” on anybody that dared to tamper with the message and preach another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

Yet this is exactly what was happening in the church at Galatia. False teachers had come in and deceived the brethren by perverting the Gospel. They were preaching that in addition to believing in Christ, it’s necessary to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. They were adding to the Gospel, changing the message to make it more acceptable. Paul said of them: “As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (Galatians 6:12). False teachers and false brethren today are rarely found preaching circumcision as necessary for salvation. However, they are still doing the same thing to the Gospel, adding to it and taking away from it in order to make it less offensive and more acceptable to the religious folk who fill the churches, in order that they don’t have to suffer persecution for the sake of the message. They take away the “offense of the cross” and in doing so, take away the heart and substance of the Gospel.

Paul’s Gospel exalted the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul preached salvation solely through the finished work of the cross, and preached abroad that those who are to be saved by grace must identify themselves with this bloody cross. He preached that men need to believe in Christ, and that the result of believing is an identification with the cross. He gloried in the fact that he was “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). He preached that the sinful flesh needs to be crucified; that the carnal man has to be put to death. Any who refuse to thus nail themselves to the cross are unworthy of the great, glorious Gospel of Christ. Any who water down the Gospel and dilute the message to make it more acceptable to carnal men or to tailor to the religious status quo, refusing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel are enemies of the cross, serving their own bellies, minding earthly things, and will face destruction (Phi. 3:18-19). There is no compromise here. Those that don’t like the message are the enemies of the cross.

Paul’s Gospel was offensive, highly offensive. He boasted that his message contained “the offense of the cross” and would not dare to cause such offense to cease. To him, the fact that there was such an offense was proof that he was preaching the true Gospel. He knew that the true Gospel would stir up devils and provoke the wrath of wicked men, and thus at times cause offense. And he continued to preach this true Gospel to the very end, even though it was “foolishness to those who are perishing”, because he knew that it was the power of God to those who believed and embraced it, resulting in salvation (1 Cor. 1:21). In addition to demolishing Satanic strongholds and turning multitudes from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, the result of preaching this was angry mobs, getting stoned, being whipped and scourged, getting thrown into prison, being hated everywhere he went, and ultimately being beheaded in Rome.

Why doesn’t our “gospel” today get us persecuted? Why does it sit so well with the religious masses? Why doesn’t it bite and cut and wound and hack and kill false religiosity? Because it’s not God’s Gospel! It’s not the sharp, two-edged sword that pierces hearts and slashes through false religious ideologies. It doesn’t wound the consciences of hardened sinners and cause them to cry out in godly sorrow, “What must I do to be saved?” It doesn’t tear away the false foundations and strip away their false hopes, and so it leaves us building on a faulty foundation that’s not going to stand when the floods of God’s just judgment come against it. There’s no digging deep in plowing up the hardened ground by preaching the offense of the cross and calling for deep repentance, so there’s not a solid foundation laid that will endure to life everlasting. The result is that multitudes are trusting in a false “gospel” that pampers the flesh and are blindly walking down the wide road that leads to destruction.

In taking away the offensiveness of preaching heart-repentance from sin and biblical justification by faith and the necessity of bowing to the Lordship of Christ, and in taking away the offensiveness of the message of the cross, we have destroyed the foundation of the Gospel. We need to get back to the offensive message of self-denial, crucifixion to the world and the flesh, of dying to sin, and of preaching salvation as the sovereign work of God’s free grace, given freely to men on the basis of faith in Christ alone apart from any merit or work of their own. Perhaps when we get back to preaching the unadulterated truth of the real Gospel, men and devils will come against us in opposition too. Perhaps when we get back to preaching the truth, we will find that there’s nothing new under the sun, and that the same Gospel has always had the same results, in the 1st century and in the 21st century.

The problem today is that the modern church has a severe lack of holy troublemakers. What I mean is that the great Spirit that brought about reformations in church history is largely void in today’s church, though it is sorely needed. The Spirit of Elijah is gone from our midst. Elijah was a holy man of God. He preached an offensive message, a message of repentance and God’s judgment against sin. He had power with God, and as the judgment of God against the sin of Israel, there was no rain at Elijah’s word for three and a half years. After that time, Elijah appeared to the wicked king, Ahab, and Ahab shouted out, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Ki. 18:17). Elijah was a holy troublemaker to the sin, false religion and Baal worship of that day. But it wasn’t Elijah that caused the main trouble; it was the sin of Israel. Elijah responded to the wicked king: “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Ki. 18:18).

This often happens today. When a man of God rises up and starts preaching an offensive message of the cross, of dying to self, of God’s judgment against sin, of the true Gospel, he is often accused of being contentious, or factious, or as a troublemaker. Yet it is not the Gospel that is the trouble, even though many times people don’t like it. The real trouble is the sin in the church and false religiosity. The true problem is the worship of the Baal’s, of “another Jesus” that is so often preached today that resembles a nice, soft, fluffy teddy bear that is the sinner’s accessory for life-enhancement more than He resembles the ferocious, triumphant Lion of Judah that demands absolute worship and obedience who demands that all be reconciled to Him or else be ripped to shreds when His wrath is kindled but a little (Psa. 2:12). –Now, the wrath of the Lamb isn’t the only attribute of our blessed Lord, nor should that be all we preach. Jesus is a friend of repentant sinners, and full of mercy and love such as no finite mind can fathom, freely wiping away the sins of the most wretched on earth and bestowing on former rebels of the Kingdom the greatest riches of the Kingdom. However, the truth is that there is a great lack in the majority of the professing church nowadays of preaching the full counsel of God, and reasoning of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come, and thundering forth the terrors of the Living God that shall one day soon fall grievously on the head of the wicked.

This is what we need today, when there has been such a soft “gospel” preached for so long, when the multitudes of religious masses fill the churches, comfortable in their sin, living at ease in Zion in lukewarm pleasure-seeking religion, serving a “Jesus” that is not the Jesus of the Bible, but is rather the bi-product of their own worldly culture and carnal thinking. We need zealous men who burn with Holy Ghost fire that have not been tamed-down by the religious status-quo, who will turn over the tables of the money-changers in the house of God, who will by the might of the Spirit smash the idols of materialism and greed, who will tear down the altars of the golden calves they call, “Jehovah”, who will prophesy against the false prophets of “another Jesus” the true word of the Lord. We need those who love Jesus enough to take a stand against the Devil and be persecuted for preaching a sharp, convicting message, that even though it offends, it also gloriously contains real power to deliver from sin and save souls.

The Apostle Paul was a holy troublemaker too. When he came to a certain city, the people cried out, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Act. 17:6).When he stood on trial before the Governor, he was accused of being one who stirred up trouble everywhere he went. They said of him, “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Act. 24:5). Paul was accused of being a ringleader in a troublemaking sect, because he tore down the religious status quo wherever he went by preaching a pure message of Christ and Him crucified, and utterly despised every false way that seeks to counterfeit or pervert the Gospel of God. The religious masses of his day didn’t like, and the ones of our day don’t like it, either.

Yet this is what we need today. We need preachers with a reformation Spirit to demolish the false foundations of Christian thinking we have in our modern day, and to exalt the old fashioned Gospel of the cross. It is only the real Gospel, the one that often offends both men and devils, that is the truth which can save those who believe. Perverting it, diluting it, changing it, and adulterating it will only lead to deception and destruction. We need to see the restoration of the true Gospel in the church, the one that has teeth that bites chunks into the cotton-candy “gospel” of our time, the one that is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces hearts, the one that is mighty through God to demolish the strongholds of Satan, the one that God uses as the chief instrument to ignite a fire in the hearts of men and to bestow the grace of saving faith in His precious elect.

I’m not saying that we should purposely try to be offensive. We should never purposely offend anyone simply for the sake of being offensive or trying to conjure up a rude awakening by the methods of the flesh. We should be filled and dripping with the love of Christ when we share the Gospel, evidencing the blessed fruit of the Spirit, led by the Spirit of Truth and speaking not as mere men, but as the oracles of God. We should actually go out of our way to ensure that the way we act and what we do doesn’t unnecessarily offend anyone so as not to put stumbling blocks in their way from accepting the Gospel. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). No matter the amount of self-denial involved, Paul would go out of his way to make sure that the way he acted and what he did helped people to understand the Gospel, not push them further away from it. We must give honor to whom honor is due, and respect to all by all means as long as it doesn’t compromise the Gospel in any way. And while all this is certainly true, we have to check ourselves, because if the Gospel that we’re preaching isn’t offending anybody, it’s some heavy evidence that what we’re preaching isn’t the true, biblical Gospel of the cross. We must never, never, water down and adulterate the pure truths of the Word of God in order to make it more acceptable to the unregenerate!

Yet, today, there is a huge movement sweeping through the professing church that does this very thing. They take away expounding on the threats of God’s holy Law and warning of the judgment to come. They don’t mention the fury and wrath of God. They don’t preach the Biblical message of God’s holy hatred of sin. They don’t preach the blood of Christ and its utter necessity for making propitiation and appeasing offended Deity. They take away the preaching of repentance. They don’t preach the power of His resurrection and His grace that gives us victory over sin. They don’t expound on the necessity of the New Birth and of a definite conversion experience. Instead, they preach philosophy, psychology, and ear-tickling sermons that make rebels feel really good about themselves in their current state before God. They preach positive self-improvement, self-esteem, and self-help. And the masses just eat it up and want more!

Their strategy is to remove the “hard sayings” from the Word of God and to only preach what unregenerate sinners like to hear in order to grow their churches and increase their attendance and membership. They think, “Let’s not preach about the wrath of God against sin because it’ll offend somebody; instead let’s just preach how God loves everybody no matter who they are or how they live”. And by preaching a sugarcoated “gospel” their goal is to grow their meetings –and it works. It’s not a rare thing to find a huge mega church in every city in the US that uses these very methods of ear-tickling half-truth “gospels”. They call it, “seeker-sensitive”. But, as one preacher put it, “There’s only one seeker and that’s God!” There are none that seek after God, apart from a work of grace in their hearts after God has first sought them. We should labor to make our churches God-friendly. And we can only do this when we preach the whole truth!

What example did Jesus lay down for us to follow? Did He take out important truths from the Gospel, truths that people didn’t like to hear, in order to please men and make more disciples for Himself? –Certainly not! To the contrary, His preaching cut through all the false pretenses and impure motives of those who seemed to be seeking God, and He would expose the hearts of the people and proclaim the very truths that they didn’t like to hear!

In John 6, after multiplying bread and feeding a multitude, a great mass of people followed Him. But their motive wasn’t the love of the truth and the glory of God and to honor Jesus for His mighty miraculous power. Their motive was selfishness, because they were following Him because He fed them with bread. Jesus didn’t mince words –He cut straight through their impure motives and said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (Jo. 6:26). Jesus continued to preach and expound on the truth, revealing their false motives and proclaiming that He is the true bread which came down from Heaven. This offended them, and they began to murmer against Him (vv. 41-42).

Many were offended at His word. Did He know they would be offended? –Of course! The words He spoke were not even His own, they were the words of the Father Himself, the very words of God. Not one word was spoken outside of the direct order of God. It was God’s plan to preach to these people in such as a way as to turn them back from following Jesus because, again, they motive was not pure and acceptable before God. He would rather have a few wholehearted followers than a multitude of lukewarm self-centered hypocrites who appear to follow Jesus outwardly while inwardly their motive is to gratify their own selfish desires.

In this discourse Jesus continued to say what some of the most offensive things one could possibly say to a Jew: He made Himself out to be greater than Moses, their greatest prophet, and on top of this, made the shocking statement that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. What an outrage this must have caused! These are people who won’t even touch shrimp or ham, let alone eat flesh and drink blood! They were certainly offended. And not only were the Jews in general offended, but many of those who were at that time His disciples, who were following Him, were offended as well:

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (Jo. 6:60-65).

And the result of this whole discourse brings us to the only “666” in the Bible outside of Revelation, that is, John 6:66, which says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” That is, many of those who were following Him were offended at His word and left their outward form of following Him. But the truth is that they never were truly following Him with all their hearts. Though they had an outward profession of faith, they didn’t have the inward work of grace to make their profession a spiritual reality in their lives. Jesus spoke the sharp, two-edged cutting word of God that sliced through their false outward profession and cut down the religious pretense, leaving nothing but the motive of the hearts exposed. Though He knew this would cause them to turn away from their outward profession, He knew that it was the best thing to do for the sake of maintaining the purity of the church at that time.

Why did He do this? –Because He knew that all those who were given to Him by His Father would come to Him, hear from Him, accept His words, have their spiritual understanding opened, and believe in Him and be saved. Those who were His own precious, elect sheep, having light from above, would understand that He didn’t speak of physically eating His flesh and blood, but of spiritually partaking of the real substance of His Being in the most intimate way –of deriving their very life from His life, and living every day in the reality of His broken body and shed blood for their salvation.

So while the hypocrites and false followers are chased away by the preaching of hard truth, the genuine and true followers are edified by it and drawn closer to Him through it. Preaching the offense of the cross, the hard truth of the word of God has a way of leaving the true children of God in awe and edified in the inner man, since most of the “meat” of the Gospel that gives us the most strength is initially hard to digest for the natural man. In light of this, for the sake of the truth of the Gospel, we must never take away any truth from it for the sake of making it acceptable to the carnal masses. If the true Gospel scares people off and offends hypocrites, let them go! It’s better to have God with us through the preaching of the true Gospel and the people against us then it is to have the people for us and God against us!

Let’s follow the example of the Lord Jesus who spoke truth without regard to its consequences. Our job is to proclaim the Gospel, and God’s job is to ensure results. We do our part, and then God will do His. But we dare not try to take God’s job by seeking to conjure up results by tampering with the message! What a damnable thing! The cross is a scandal, an offense to the world! Let’s leave it at that!

Apparently, the true Gospel that Jesus came to herald was one that was so offensive that He pronounced a special blessing on all those who were able to receive it: “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Luke 7:23). It takes a special blessing not to be offended in Christ. This must mean that most people, if they hear and understand the true Gospel, and see and hear the true Jesus, will in some measure be offended or will be unable to believe and be saved. This is quite the contrast to the lukewarm “gospel” we hear so often today, that offends nobody, that is easily embraced by the sinful multitudes who love to hear these humanistic ideas about God preached and are never shaken from their complacency, never get alarmed over their sinful condition, never depart from their iniquity, and never embrace the cross of Christ in identification with His sufferings or bow the knee of submissive obedience to His Lordship –things which are essential characteristics of true faith and necessary evidence of the reality of the Gospel in one’s life.

This true, offensive Gospel, far from being accepted by the world, was a scandal to the world, and the world hated it!  It ended up getting our Lord nailed to a tree. This true Gospel, according to early historical records, ended up getting the Apostle Peter crucified as well (that is, crucified upside down). It ended up getting all the Apostles martyred, except for John, who was banished as a condemned criminal to the Isle of Patmos. This true Gospel will never be accepted by the world and its ungodly system or the prince of darkness who oversees it. It will always be a scandal, an offense, a sword between those who follow it and those who refuse to (see Mat. 10:34-36). Where is this Gospel today? Surely, wherever it is, persecution tends to follow it in some form or another, but thank God; genuine salvation does too! And so does revival!

Please share this message with others!

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(revised 10/13/14)

I’ve thought a great deal about the message every church should be preaching regularly, that relatively few do nowadays: the “bloody” message of salvation through Christ’s atonement on the cross of Calvary.

In the early 1960s we sang gospel hymns like this in Evangelical Friends (EFCI) churches in Ohio, at every service:

“The Old Rugged Cross”
“Power in the Blood”
“There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”

… and so on. No longer – now EFCI churches in Ohio and elsewhere (like churches in many other evangelical denominations) are becoming more and more postmodern (Emerging/ Emergent).

Below is a very revealing article on how Emergents present a message vastly different than the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross.” Click here for the original source of this article, at the Let Us Reason Ministries website. Note – two of the heretical Emergents quoted below are Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet. McLaren and Sweet have taught at George Fox University (GFU) and/or George Fox Evangelical Seminary (GFES),  in Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM), the most liberal Region in the EFCI. Other Emerging/Emergents who have taught at GFU and GFES are Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, etc. (some as adjunct professors.)

Now on to the article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]…

“Does the Emergent Church movement preach the gospel that saves?”
by Let Us Reason Ministries

An appeal to pursuers of the new church movements

We have a duty to be keepers, protectors and proclaimers of the gospel, it is to be the same message that was given to the apostles nearly 2,000 years ago. What has saved us is to save others.

This gospel can be changed from applying new innovations. Even Brian McLaren admits the way that emerging church presents the message can be changing the gospel:

“It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, “We’re not changing the message; we’re only changing the medium.” This claim is probably less than honest … in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naivete or denial about this.”

This is one of the rare times I can agree with him. The method of presenting the Gospel can adopt change in its presentation when necessary; but the content of the message cannot, when it does we have another gospel. And if we are not careful the message can be changed by the method. And the message HAS already changed for many inside these progressive type movements, one of them is the emergent church movement. Without the cross as central to our lives and our preaching for salvation, church becomes just another religion with wonderful teachings about a man named Jesus. Salvation does not come from just believing in God, but in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross – this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ one is to believe and continue in. We all get saved the same way, by the message of gospel. Yet in the emergent movement they entertain and pursue other religious practices for their spirituality. Why would one do this if they have found what makes peace with God? This proves that they have not personally experienced nor possess the power of the gospel in their personal life. Paul warned about another gospel and preaching a different Jesus in Gal.1:6-9.

What kind of Jesus allows other religions teachings and practices to be taught in his church to those who are to supposed to be following Him as “the way the truth the life.”

“Is our religion the only one that understands the true meaning of life? Or does God place his truth in others too? … The gospel is not our gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, and what belongs to the kingdom of God cannot be hijacked by Christianity” (Brian McLaren, An Emergent Manifesto p. 194)

Actually it was introduced by Jesus who happens to be truth incarnate, so the answer is, NO. God has not placed his truth in other religions that worship false gods. Common sense alone should tell people this fact.

This is not to say that everyone in the Emergent church holds to the new views of the gospel but whether it is done purposely or by indifference there are many of its leaders that do, and influence its adherents that seek a church to be real. Using humanistic concepts, worldly business practices, or other religious ways to adjust the gospel to reach the various cultures, they avoid the real intent; exposing the darkness in the human heart. This can only be done by Christ being preached, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)

The changing of the gospel message and its application come in many forms, Emergent leader Leonard Sweet explains it “Postmodern missions must have a geomantic imagination and geomantic design. What I am calling a geomantic style of evangelization will ensure harmonious habitation patterns as the gospel interconnects and interacts with all life-and landforms” (Quantum Spirituality p.168).

This changing the gospel to be relative to the environment has no basis from Scripture and is the imagination of ones heart that is conducive to the trends of our day. Earth based spirituality has nothing to do with the gospel that was preached by Paul and the apostles whose intent was to deal with sin in humanity (1 Cor.15:1-4).

If one does not understand the gospel and the requirement for our sin then they will mock the crucifixion.

Emergent Church leaders consistently, repeatedly denigrate sin, the savior, and salvation via the cross of Christ. “If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil” (Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, pp. 182-183.)

But it was love that brought Jesus to the cross. There was no other way. Christ shows us how God loves his enemies- love is the heart of the gospel. “While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, 10). The Bible declares that those who bring the gospel are the ones who bring peace (Rom. 10)

Harry Emerson Fosdick was a famous liberal pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, (1878-1969), who denied the doctrine of the atonement, “Jesus suffered as a substitute for us”

In Fosdick’s book Dear Mr. Brown, he states: Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world.’ Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced—’No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgment a theological disgrace.”‘ Fosdick considered the idea that God would actually send His Son to die on a Cross to take our place to be the basis for a violent and bloody religion. He rejected the biblical message of an atonement and substitutionary sacrifice.

‘In an interview, Brian McLaren questioned the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death, calling it “false advertising for God”:

[O]ne of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God. (emphasis added)’ (quoted in Faith Undone by Roger Oakland p.192)

The Emergent movement wants to a re-imaginine [sic] things. the way things are going as they remove words and sayings from books you should not be surprised by a company removing the crucifixion from the Bible because it is offensive. After all the book of Urantia [see this link](which I suspect some may be reading) says it was not God’s plan for Jesus.

Brian McLaren endorsed Alan Jones’ book, “Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind.” McLaren had this to say: “Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.”

If this is authentic spirituality then the Bible has become obsolete in his view. Jones, an Episcopal priest,  holds a a similar view to the outspoken liberal Fosdick.

 Jones is the Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco that promotes the labyrinth. He is a promoter of inter-spirituality, He is also a member of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project which is a group of about twenty-five that include Zen and Buddhist monks, New Agers and even Marianne Williamson (who promotes a Course in Miracles, a book that denies almost every authentic Bible teaching of Jesus Christ.)

Jones rejects the Gospel message in no uncertain terms. “The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry god. Penal substitution [Christ’s death on the Cross] was the name of this vile doctrine.” (Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005 p. 168)

The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.”(ibid. p. 132)

Jones goes on to say, “Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine.” Alan Jones, p. 168

The apostle Paul said “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”(1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Paul preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:18,23). The book of Acts tells us that the apostles preached Christ crucified. Jesus even told us to pick our cross to follow him. McLaren is recommending a book that holds this to scorn. The very core of Christianity is Christ crucified by which we have our salvation.

What we are seeing are men without the Spirit of Christ leading people into an pseudo intellectual – philosophical movement that offers a new spiritual openness in the place of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Without the preaching of the cross it neglects the true spiritual condition and need of mankind. This is not leading people to the truth of their sin by a confrontation of the gospel for salvation but instead offering a substitute without the purpose of God becoming man as Jesus. It is opening the door to thousands to go another way. This new message is integrated in the church to reach the post- modern generation that does not see any one way more valid than another. All this leads to is interfaith – accompanied with universalism.

Brian McLaren, “The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat” (A Generous Orthodoxy, McLaren, p.254)

The concept of syncretism is offered to have us unite with the various different religions. When we combine two belief systems we are committing spiritual adultery. Paul was greatly encouraged of his new converts “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). Jesus wants us to worship God in Spirit and in truth. This means we do not mix other religions practices with our worship.

A Generous Orthodoxy is overly generous as it departs from orthodoxy. It sounds more like “As men approach me, so I receive them. All paths, Arjuna, lead to me. Hinduism” (Bhagavad Gita 4.11)

This takes the foundation of Christianity away. As Christians, we are not to present ourselves as having common ground with other religions, we are supposed to avoid this confusion. We are not to give any impression of our acceptance of these foreign concepts, we are to preach the gospel and contend for the faith with others who openly OPPOSE what we believe. We have every right, even an obligation by the commands in Scripture to challenge other belief systems by God’s word.

In an interview with Christianity Today McLaren said “I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be ‘saved’? When I read the Bible, I don’t see it meaning, ‘I’m going to heaven after I die.’ Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, or walked down an aisle, or said the sinner’s prayer.” “I don’t think the liberals have it right. But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy” (The Emergent Mystique, Christianity Today Nov.2004)

If McLaren does not have the gospel right, then he lacks the power of God which first and foremost brings salvation which gives us the ability to live the Christian life. The whole Christian message is that mankind is sinful, God came to earth as a man to die for our sins, for you personally – to bring us into a relationship with our maker.

So how is it he is so unsure of this? Its all very clearly written down. 1 Pet 1:25 “But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”

McLaren questions nearly everything in the Bible so how can one preach the gospel of salvation if they do not know the gospel as the truth and exercise faith in it. The Bible says if we doubt, we are double-minded and will receive nothing. This attitude is not faith but musing of the carnal nature. Then no one can really know if they are saved or anything the Scripture promises for that matter. This is the very opposite of what John wrote in his first epistle, I Jn. 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” Having eternal life means going to heaven – Jesus said “I give them eternal life”, we should have the assurance of what He said “where I am they may be also.”

This is not just out of the box thinking but thinking outside the Bible, McLaren is not no longer theologically based but he has become a philosopher; one who is searching for answers instead of one who has found the answer.

Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 2:4-5: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak.”

1 Cor 2:5 “that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” Rom. 1:16 tells us the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”

Rom. 10:16-17: But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith comes by believing the word found in the Bible, not just any “holy” book.

Yet Rob Bell writes in his book Velvet Elvis, that the Bible is a “human product… rather than the product of divine fiat.” (Quote in Christianity Today, Nov. 2004, p. 38.) So how can He receive faith from the word?

Rom. 16:25-26 Paul says the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, has now has been made manifest, by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.”

Is this true or not? Those who were saved by the word; “to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

(John 12:38) will agree, but not those who lead the emergent movement.

What they do not understand is Salvation does not come from just believing in God, but in Jesus Christ and His work done for us on the cross.

The Gospel is focused on two specific areas: who Jesus is and what He has done. It is centered on the person and work of Christ for us. The person is the who – which the gospel is focused on-God who came in the flesh

He died for you Col 1:14: “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”

Col 1:23 One day we will stand before the Lord, holy and blameless “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard

liberalism always leads to inter-spirituality- which is what we are seeing taking place today.

Do not let any man remove you by enticing words and eloquent speech or unusual dictionary words.

Luke 6:43-44: “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.

How can one bear fruit if you are not in the vine? (Jn.15:1-2).

Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

When you do not have a basic understanding of the gospel as it is presented in the emergent church then you are cannot be saved by it.

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Note – In the above repost I underlined titles of books and magazines – DM

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