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Posts Tagged ‘Doctrinal Statements’

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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The shallowness of today’s church music – especially the downplaying of Christ’s Atonement on Calvary – concerns me greatly.

I have reposted a blog by Bill Muehlenberg, in which he addresses the lack of theology in today’s songs. Click here for the original source. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…

Hymns, Theology and Spirituality

One of the greatest sources of Christian theology and spirituality is the old hymns. In marked contrast to most of the worship choruses found in today’s church services, the old hymns were rich depositories of biblical spirituality, theological truth, and Christian belief.

There is nothing like going back to the old hymns for spiritual nourishment, especially in times of spiritual dryness, difficulty or pain. They stir the soul, sustain the spirit, and enrich the mind. They reflect so much theological depth – compared to what we find today – that is a real tragedy that we are neglecting these stirring anthems.

James Montgomery Boice once lamented, “One of the saddest features of contemporary worship is that the great hymns of the church are on the way out. They are not gone entirely, but they are going. And in their place have come trite jingles that have more in common with contemporary advertising ditties than the psalms. The problem here is not so much the style of the music, though trite words fit best with trite tunes and harmonies. Rather it is with the content of the songs. The old hymns expressed the theology of the church in profound and perceptive ways and with winsome memorable language. Today’s songs reflect only our shallow or non-existent theology and do almost nothing to elevate one’s thoughts about God.

“Worst of all are songs that merely repeat a trite idea, word or phrase over and over again. Songs like this are not worship, though they may give the church goer a religious feeling. They are mantras, which belong more in a gathering of New Agers than among the worshipping people of God.”

It is not just great theology which can be found in the old hymns, but very moving spiritual riches, aiding the Christian in his devotional life. Tozer was quite right when he wrote: “After the Bible the next most valuable book for the Christian is a good hymnal. Let any young Christian spend a year prayerfully meditating on the hymns of Watts and Wesley alone and he will become a fine theologian. Then let him read a balanced diet of the Puritans and the Christian mystics. [Although Tozer wrote many great things, I disagree strongly with Tozer’s recommendation of “Christian” mystics.] The results will be more wonderful than he could have dreamed.”

But enough from me. Let me just mention a few hymns (out of so many) and offer a few verses from them. Where does one begin? One thinks of course as such classics as How Great Thou Art, Rock of Ages and Amazing Grace. And we can never go past Luther’s c.1528 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Consider verses 1 and 3:

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
Our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us:
the Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure,
one little word shall fell him.

Charles Wesley is always another great source. Consider the last verse of his Love Divine, All Loves Excelling from 1747:

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Or the fourth verse of his And Can It Be That I Should Gain (1738):

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Isaac Watts of course wrote many great hymns as well. As an example, Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed written in the early 1700s. Here is the last verse:

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Katharina A. von Schlegel’s 1752 hymn, Be Still My Soul, begins this way:

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

And consider Be Thou My Vision. The fourth verse of this eight century hymn goes this way:

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

The third verse of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson (1758) is also well worth sharing:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O Sacred Head Now Wounded, attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1153, has this as its fifth verse:

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

Also worth highlighting, verse six of Crown Him with Many Crowns by Matthew Bridges (1852):

Crown Him the Lord of love:
Behold His hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified;
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends His wondering eye
At mysteries so bright.

There is a Fountain Filled With Blood by William Cowper (1772) has this as its first verse:

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

One last example, but a somewhat newer one: The Love of God. The lyrics were penned in 1917 by Frederick M. Lehman, but it is based on an old Jewish poem from the eleventh century. The third and final verse is remarkable:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

One could keep on like this forever; and we will in eternity – singing his praises, never tiring of worshipping him, and rejoicing in what he has done for us.

For more:

There are a number of very helpful sites to find hymns, get the lyrics, listen to the songs, learn about the composers and history, etc. Here are three of them:

www.hymnlyrics.org/

www.hymntime.com/tch/

www.cyberhymnal.org/

And to round this off, listen to one great hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdIMYTwCQKY

FOR FURTHER READING

Wikipedia list of hymnals

Hymnary.org

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NOTE – The blog below is not my latest blog. To find more recent blogs, browse through the “Archives” section to the lower right.  ——>  ——>  ——>
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(revised 01/02/13)

I have posted many blogs covering occultish Spiritual Formation (specifically contemplative spirituality) and heretical Emerging/ Emergent teachings.  A number of Wesleyan Holiness denominations are increasingly teaching these heresies.

And, these Wesleyan Holiness denominations are taking part in a number of joint projects. There may be additional joint projects, but we are tracking the following:

Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA) ( note – these are prospective members – the Alliance is still in formation)
– UPDATE: press release describing 2012 meeting of GWA – 14 prospective members as of Dec. 2011, 18 as of Dec. 2012
National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)
National Council of Churches (NCC)
Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (WHC) (producers of the Holiness Manifesto; 16+ denominations; for the official list of Participating Denominations click here)
WordAction curriculum (WA)(6 denominations)
World Methodist Council (WMC)

I am working on adding stats for each member denomination.  Also, I am adding links to articles showing how contemplative and Emerging/Emergent heresies are entering each denomination (some more than others).

Note: it is not my intent to “attack” Wesleyan Holiness denominations. On the contrary, I love what Wesleyan Holiness denominations used to stand for. Specifically,  a biblically sound theology which placed priority on the message of Calvary (John 3:16) and personal holiness (Rom. 12:1-2). And the rejection all unbiblical heretical teachings. The Wesleyan Holiness denominations of yesteryear fought modernism tooth and nail. Unlike today’s Wesleyan Holiness denominations listed below, they would have condemned today’s heresies of Spiritual Formation/Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

I know what these Wesleyan Holiness denominations have lost. I am fighting (along with many others in counter-Emergent discernment ministries) to help these straying denominations hopefully return to a biblically sound theology, rejecting Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

If the denominations themselves reject correction (as is usually the case), we are encouraging members of these denominations to separate, to leave for biblically sound churches. I recommend Bro. David Cloud’s Independent Fundamentalist Baptist directory – particularly the “two-asterisk” and “three-asterisk”  churches – although these churches vary on some doctrines from fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness churches of approx. 1890-1942.

WESLEYAN HOLINESS DENOMINATIONS FALLING FOR EMERGING/EMERGENT HERESIES

nazarenelogo  Assemblies of God  – in NAE, WHC
2010 stats: 12,457 U.S. churches, 1,753,881 U.S. attenders
main Wikipedia article
Assemblies of God (AG) claims to oppose the NAR and other heretical movements, but recent AG activities show otherwise
Repost critiquing the heretical Alpha Course: “ALPHA: New Life or New Lifestyle?”, by Elizabeth McDonald (AG is a big promoter of the Alpha Course)

brethren in christ logo Brethren in Christ Church – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

cma logo Christian & Missionary Alliance– in WHC
Wikipedia article x
Christian & Missionary Alliance Workers will soon be learning Ancient Spiritual Disciplines (12/02/09)
a list of blogs exposing Spiritual Formation in the C&MA

 cma logo Christian & Missionary Alliance – Canada – in WHC

Church of Christ Holiness USA – in GWA
Wikipedia article

churchofgodandersonlogo Church of God – Anderson (aka Church of God Ministries, Inc.) – in GWA, WHC
Wikipedia article

churchofgodclevelandlogoChurch of God – Cleveland – in WHC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogoChurch of the Nazarene – – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
– Wikipedia article x
Reformed Nazarene website (provides many blogs and links exposing CotN involvement in heresies)

Churches of Christ in Christian Union – in GWA, NAE
Wikipedia article

Congregational Methodist Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

the evangelical church logo The Evangelical Church of North America – in GWA, WHC

Evangelical Friends Church International – in NAE, WA
my critique of the EFCI and EFC-ER
I have many blogs on my blogsite exposing heresies of the Evangelical Friends (and Quakers in general). Click here for a partial list of my blogs on the Evangelical Friends.
Wikipedia article

 Evangelical Methodist Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

Evangelical United Methodists – in WA

foursquare logo The Foursquare Church (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel) – – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogoFree Methodist Church USA – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogo Grace Communion International – in NAE (joined 1997 as Worldwide Church of God), WHC
Wikipedia article

International Fellowship of Bible Churches – in GWA

ipchlogo International Pentecostal Holiness Church – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

The Methodist Protestant Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

The Missionary Church, Inc. – in GWA, NAE
Wikipedia article

Pilgrim Holiness Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogo The Salvation Army – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC
Wikipedia article
Lighthouse Trails exposes The Salvation Army’s involvement in Spiritual Formation
– “A Simple Way to Begin the Day with Prayer” (Richard Foster, The War Cry, October 1985)
– Cory Harrison, Emergent Salvationism? (blog by an Emergent Salvation Army member)

shield of faith logo4   Shield of Faith – in WHC

united methodist logoUnited Methodist Church – in NAE (observer status), NCC, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

*** United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) – WARNING – Oneness Pentecostals; UPCI was in the WHC at one time, but as of 12/11/12 the UPCI is no longer listed as a member. Why was the UPCI allowed to become a member in the first place?
Wikipedia article

wesleyan church logo The Wesleyan Church – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

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I have been searching for articles on the doctrine of the Atonement. I came across the following article, which lists a number of Bible scholars favoring “unlimited atonement.”

I am reposting the article here – not to start an argument with hyper-Calvinists (i.e. five point Calvinists, followers of “TULIP”) – but merely to provide leads to authors for Christians favoring unlimited atonement.

Note – I do not believe that because Christ died for all mankind, every person will go to Heaven. This would be Christian universalism. I do believe that salvation is made available to every person, so that whosoever believes on Him will receive eternal life (John 3:16).

Click here for the original source of the article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? A Defense of Unlimited Atonement

Proponents And Defenders Of The Fact That Christ Died For All

 In establishing any doctrine, it is what God says that counts. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). Having already established from the Scriptures that upon Christ were laid the iniquities of all of us, it is of interest to consider what great and godly men of the past have said about this issue of the universal extent of the atonement.

Norman F. Douty, in his excellent book The Death of Christ, lists over 70 of the Church’s leading teachers, from the early centuries to the modern era, who stood firmly for the doctrine that Christ died on behalf of all men, not the elect only (pages 136-163). Here are some of the names on the list: Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Augustine, Martin Luther, Hugh Latimer, Myles Coverdale, Thomas Cranmer, Philip Melanchton, Archbishop Ussher, Richard Baxter, John Newton, John Bunyan, Thomas Scott, Henry Alford, Philip Schaff, Alfred Edersheim, H.C.G. Moule, W.H. Griffith Thomas, and A.T. Robertson.

The following quotes are of interest:

“Although the blood of Christ be the ransom of the whole world, yet they are excluded from its benefit, who, being delighted with their captivity, are unwilling to be redeemed by it” (Prosper, who died 463 AD).

“For Christ only, and no man else, merited remission, justification, and eternal felicity, for as many as will believe the same; they that will not believe it, shall not have it, for it is no more but believe and have.  For Christ shed as much blood for Judas as He did for Peter; Peter believed it, and therefore he was saved; Judas would not believe and therefore he was condemned – the fault being in him only, and in nobody else” (Hugh Latimer, devoted bishop and martyr, 1485-1555). [Cited in James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, p. 130.]

“Christ died for all, yet, notwithstanding, all do not embrace the benefit of His death…they despise the offered grace” (Benedict Aretius, 1505-1575).

“We may safely conclude that the Lamb of God offering himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, intended, by giving sufficient satisfaction to God’s justice, to make the nature of man, which he assumed, a fit subject for mercy, and to prepare a medicine for the sins of the whole world, which should be denied to none that intended to take the benefit of it” (Archbishop Usher, 1581-1656).   [Cited in James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, p. 136.]

James Morison argues that the doctrine of a limited atonement was never taught in the early centuries of church history:

The doctrine of a propitiation for the elect alone is not yet above fourteen hundred years old. Such a doctrine was unheard of during the glorious first three centuries of the Christian era. Nay, it was not known for about two hundred years after that. This surely is a striking fact, and should make some men pause and ponder before they condemn. “I think,” says the illustrious Bishop Davenant, a divine most intimately versed in ecclesiastical history and the writings of the Fathers, “that it may be truly affirmed, that before the dispute between Augustine and Pelagius, there was no question concerning the death of Christ, whether it was to be extended to all mankind, or to be confined only to the elect. For the Fathers, when speaking of the death of Christ, describe it to us as undertaken and endured for the redemption of the human race; and not a word (that I know of) occurs among them of the exclusion of any person by the decree of God. They agree that it is actually beneficial to those only who believe, yet they everywhere confess that Christ died in behalf of all mankind. [He then quotes from Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Primasius, Athanasius and Prosper].

Bishop Davenport goes on to give some further details respecting the opinions of Augustine: “We assert, therefore, that Augustine never attempted to impugn that proposition of the Semi-pelagians, that Christ died for the whole human race . . . For neither did Augustine ever oppose as erroneous the proposition ‘that Christ died for the redemption of the whole human race;’ nor did he ever acknowledge or defend as his own, ‘that Christ died, not for all men, but for the pre-destinate alone.’”

Augustine died A.D. 429, and up to his time, at least, there is not the slightest evidence that any Christian ever dreamed of a propitiation for the elect alone. Even after him, the doctrine of a limited propitiation was but slowly propagated, and for long but partially received. [James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, pages 114-117.]

More recent advocates of unlimited atonement are as follows: D.L.Moody, Albert Barnes, L.S.Chafer, John Walvoord, Robert Lightner, William Newell, R.C.H. Lenski, D.Edmond Hiebert, Robert Gromacki, E.Schuyler English, R.A. Torrey, Charles Ryrie and all the members of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America who have made unlimited atonement part and parcel of their doctrinal statement. Unlimited atonement seems also to be the position of the GARBC (Regular Baptists) because the Regular Baptist Press published the original edition of Robert Lightner’s book, The Death Christ Died, which presents a strong case for unlimited atonement and also David Nettleton’s book Chosen to Salvation. Nettleton refers to “the erroneous doctrine of limited atonement” and says that “limited atonement is not a necessary corollary of the sovereign election of God” (page 79).

Note: One of the men mentioned in the above paragraph was the noted commentator, Albert Barnes (1798-1870), was an American Presbyterian preacher and Bible expositor. In 1835 he was brought to trial by the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia for his belief in unlimited atonement, but was acquitted. The case continued to stir the denomination and was one of the causes of the split in the Presbyterian church in the United States in 1837. See The Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church, p.29. It’s interesting to read Barnes’ comments under such passages as John 3:16; John 1:29; Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 1 John 2:2.

Those who are defenders of a Limited Atonement would include Berkhof, Crawford, Cunningham, Eldersveld, Haldane, Hodge, Lloyd-Jones, John Murray, Owen, Packer, Pink, Smeaton, Spurgeon, Stonehouse and Warfield (see Douty, page 163). To this list can be added John Gerstner, Gary Long, David N. Steele, Custis C. Thomas, W.E. Best, John MacArthur and many others. Though we strongly disagree with such men on this issue, we do not vilify them as Charles Spurgeon seemed to do with respect to those holding to unlimited atonement:

“There may be men with minds so distorted that they can conceive it possible that Christ should die for a man who afterwards is lost: I say, there may be such. I am sorry to say that there are still to be found such persons whose brains have been so addled in their childhood, that they cannot see that what they hold is both preposterous falsehood and a blasphemous libel….I feel quite shocked in only mentioning such an awful error, and were it not so current as it is, I should certainly pass it by with the contempt that it deserves” (cited by Norman Duty,  in The Death of Christ, p. 163).

FOR FURTHER READING

Ron Rhodes, The Extent of the Atonement: Limited Atonement Versus Unlimited Atonement (presents the case for Unlimited Atonement)

Wikipedia article on Unlimited Atonement (makes points for and against)

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(revised 05/13/14)

I have been looking for resources on how to evangelize unsaved Emerging/Emergents. I came across an excellent presentation of the plan of salvation, by Pastor Max Solbrekken. Although his message does not specifically address Emerging/Emergents, the principles are the same.

Click here for the original source of this article. Note – there are various articles on Pastor Solbrekken’s website I don’t agree with doctrinally (specifically, regarding Pentecostalism – he is a continuationist, while I am a soft cessationist). However, I believe this plan of salvation is excellent.

ARE YOU READY TO
MEET GOD

by: Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.

SALVATION – ARE YOU READY TO MEET GOD?

The most important question I could ask you and the most important decision of your entire lifetime revolves around the spiritual welfare of your soul and its eternal destiny. 

There are preachers today who have soft-soaped the Gospel and watered down God’s word [sic] to please their listeners in order to keep their parishioners coming to church. 

They are afraid that if they preach the truth, as it is written, people will not like it and their offering plates will not bring in too much money. 

The Bible warns that this would be the case in the end time, of which we are now living. (2 Timothy 3:13) (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The Apostle Paul calls such preachers Food Preachers or Belly Preachers. (Romans 16:18) (Philippians 3:19) These men only preach to earn a living and not to win men and women to Jesus Christ.

I’m going to be absolutely honest with you and tell you the complete truth as found in God’s Word concerning your soul, death, judgment, heaven, hell and eternity and the gift of salvation. Then I will also show you how you can be saved and forgiven by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.


#1 – YOUR SOUL WILL NEVER DIE

Your soul is eternal and will live on even after your body dies. (Genesis 2:7)

#2 – ONE APPOINTMENT YOU CAN’T CANCEL OR POSTPONE

“It is appointed unto man once to die but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

#3 – YOU CAN’T FOOL GOD

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)

#4 – YOU’LL PAY FOR YOUR SINS IF YOU DON’T REPENT OF THEM

“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalms 9:17) “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divided his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46)

#5 – ALL HAVE SINNED

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “And we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) “There is none righteous, no, no one.” (Romans 3:10)

#6 – JESUS DIED TO SAVE SINNERS

Jesus said, “For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”, (Matthew 9:13) and “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” (Matthew 18:11)

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

#7 – YOU MUST REPENT OF YOUR SINS

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7) “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5)

#8 – YOU MUST BELIEVE THE GOSPEL

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

#9 – ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR PERSONAL SAVIOUR BY FAITH

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) “Come now, and let us reason together saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

#10 – HE WILL GIVE YOU THE POWER YOU NEED

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:11-12) “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

HOW CAN I BE SAVED?

Many are asking this question today. They are wanting to know how to “make things right with Almighty God.” They realize somewhere along the way, they have lost sight of God – they have lost contact with the Eternal One – the Great Creator, God, who loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for lost humanity. Multitudes today are groping in darkness – looking for a ray of light to point them to the Heavenly way – but alas, they search in vain, they stumble and fall in the shadows of sin, worry, fear, anxiety, loneliness, heartbreak, sickness and confusion. Many people have tried to live a better life, turn over a new leaf, rehabilitate themselves, only to find that their strength in the time of testing and temptation has failed and they are back where they started. So now, not only are they defeated, but they are also bewildered, perplexed and tormented, not knowing which way to turn.

Dear Reader, perhaps you are one of these poor unfortunate souls. THEN LISTEN CAREFULLY, for I have good news for you. There is still balm in Gilead for your sin sick soul. There is still deliverance for the bound, victory for the defeated and peace for the troubled. There is still healing for the sick and salvation for the lost.

THERE IS STILL HOPE – LOOK TO JESUS

THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR YOU. There is life for you. There is still forgiveness and happiness for you. LOOK TO JESUS, the author and finisher of your faith, (Hebrews 12:3). LOOK TO JESUS, the mighty conqueror (Revelation 1:17-18). LOOK TO JESUS, the Saviour of the World (Luke 2:11). Don’t look at your sinful condition, LOOK TO JESUS; don’t look at your hopelessness, frustration and bewilderment, LOOK TO JESUS. Don’t look at your sickness, grief and loneliness, LOOK TO JESUS. Don’t look at your friends of other Christians who have failed, but LOOK TO JESUS who never fails.

The Bible says in Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is NONE else.”

There is only one way to be saved and that is through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus said in (John 14:6), “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Jesus said in (John 10:9), “I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be SAVED, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO GO – that way is JESUS. There is only one door to God, and that door is Jesus. There is no other.

Mohammed, Buddha and the Roman Pope, a church organization – none of these will open the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven, but Jesus Christ, the one who came from heaven, who died on the Cross, rose again from the dead – He is able to forgive you, save you and bring you into the Kingdom of God. GLORY TO HIS NAME FOREVER.

The Apostle Peter said in (Acts 4:12) concerning Jesus Christ, “Neither is there Salvation in any other, for there is none other name under Heaven, given among men whereby we must be SAVED.” There you have it. the only name that can bring salvation, blessing and deliverance is the Mighty Name of Jesus. The Angel said unto Joseph (Matthew 1:21), “Ye shall call His Name Jesus, for He shall SAVE His people from their sins.” In (Romans 10:13) we read, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be SAVED.”

The Philippian jailer asked the same question many today are asking and he got an answer he was converted, his life was changed. He met the master, Jesus. You can do the same. There in the prison house he cried out (Acts 16:30), “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be Saved.” He believed on Jesus Christ and was Saved. you can do the same.

But you ask – how can I believe? What must I do to believe in Jesus Christ? Where do I start? I am glad you asked these questions, because I have the answer for you from God’s word – Here is what you must do to be saved.

#1 – REPENT OF YOUR SINS – To be saved you must repent of your sins and see yourself as you really are – You must realize you are lost and undone, without hope. You must see God’s Holiness and realize that you have sinned against the Almighty. You must be sorry for your sins, you must hate your sins and be willing to forsake them (Matthew 4:17) your sins have condemned you (John 3:18) your sins have separated you from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says (Romans 3:23), “For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.” Also in (Isaiah 53:6) the word of God says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

GOD HATES YOUR SINS – but God loves you. God wants to rescue you out of your sins. You must be willing to give yourself completely over to God and turn your back on all unrighteousness.

#2 – YOU MUST CONFESS YOU SINS TO GOD – (1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins (to God), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” You must tell God you are a sinner and that you cannot save yourself. You must confess to God that no one else can save you except Jesus Christ. You must ask God to have mercy on you (Luke 18:13) and to forgive you. Then you must confess to God that you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary for your sins, that He rose again from the dead and that He is able to save you (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) (Hebrews 7:25).

#3 – YOU MUST ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOUR – Tell God that you accept His pardon and that you now, through faith in God’s word accept Jesus Christ into your heart and life. (Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Salvation is absolutely free – you cannot work for it – you cannot pay for it – It is free – you just receive it from God.

After you have prayed to God asking Him to forgive you – then you must believe He has heard your prayer and forgiven your sins. That is faith. You say that is hard to do. No – it isn’t. If you believe that God told the truth and the Bible is God’s word – God will do what He said He would do. If you have prayed the sinner’s prayer asking God to forgive you, (then he has forgiven you; His word tells you that and His word is the truth) and if you are forgiven, then you are saved. You must then continue to live in God’s way – you must live for God. Believe that you are saved, begin to praise and worship God and thank him for saving your soul.

But you have doubts and say, “I don’t feel any different.” You say you still feel the way you did before, you don’t feel like you are saved. Always remember, you are NOT SAVED by your feelings, you are saved by FAITH IN GOD’S WORD. If God said it – it is the truth, whether you feel like it or not. However, when you stand of God’s word and by faith accept the Salvation that God offers, you WILL FEEL DIFFERENT. 

You will believe before you feel – you will feel the cleansing, you will feel the forgiveness of God, you will feel the assurance when you believe God’s word and have confessed Jesus Christ as your Saviour (Romans 10:9-10). 

You will begin to feel peace, the peace that comes from knowing you are saved, that your sins have been forgiven and you will feel hope and optimism. 

The Word of God states (John 6:37), Jesus said, “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.” You have come to Jesus by faith; He has not cast you out – Jesus has taken you in – you are SAVED. Praise God. 

Raise your hands to God (in complete obedience and surrender). Say “thank you, Jesus, for saving my soul.” Praise Him and Worship Him for what He has done for you. 

You are now saved, you have passed from death unto life (John 5:24). Your name has now been written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 20:15) The Angels are rejoicing in Heaven over this great victory over the devil. God has snatched your soul from Satan’s grasp and the angels are rejoicing over this. (Luke 15:7)

RISE from you knees full of peace (John 14:27). Now go and tell someone about Jesus Christ and his love. Tell people what God has done for you. (Romans 10:9-10) “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be SAVED. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto Salvation.”

Seek the Lord (James 4:8) and ask Him to fill you with the holy Ghost and Fire.

Ask God to give you power for service (Luke 3:16) (Acts 1:4) (Acts 1:8) (Acts 2:4) (Acts 2:38-39). Read your Bible every day and pray to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

As you go about your life, witness to people about Jesus Christ. Find a good church where the pastor and the congregation believe the whole Bible, where they believe in holiness of life and separation from the world. 

Find a church where they believe in prayer for the sick and where the pastor and congregation have a burden to see the lost saved and brought to Jesus Christ.

May the Lord bless you and give you peace. Write me a letter if you have accepted the lord Jesus Christ as a result of reading this message.

Solbrekken Evangelistic Association
Max Solbrekken
Box 5000
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5P 4C1

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(revised 01/29/14)

I came across an excellent list of “discernment questions” from “Stand Up for the Truth.” These are questions to ask a pastor when seeking a biblically sound church. (I hope to add additional questions to the list.)

Thank you for this great blog, Mike and Amy!

Click here for the original source of this blog.

Church shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church

Holy Hill steeple

I originally posted this late last year, but we’ve had some many requests from people who are looking for a new church home that I’m re-posting to bump it higher:

If you are looking for a new church, you need to ask some very important questions of church leadership before you become a member. Here are 35 to get you started:

FOUNDATIONAL BELIEFS

1.   Is the Bible the 100% true, accurate Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit?

2.   Is Jesus the Son of God and the only way to eternal life with God? Is there any way to God or eternal life other than through Jesus?

3.   What does the Bible say the world will look like when Jesus returns? Do we need to gain dominion of the earth before that happens?

4.   Can man, through his actions, change or alter biblical prophecy?

THEOLOGY

5.   What is the doctrinal statement of the church and may I have a copy?

6.   Does a person have any responsibilities to God upon accepting salvation?

7.   What books other than the bible have you used to develop sermons?

8.   What are your views on “Replacement Theology”?

TEACHINGS AND SERVICES

9.   Is your Bible Teaching solely based on the Five Sola’s ?

10.  How important is popular culture in structuring your services?

11.  How do you train and equip your people to carry out the Great Commission?

12.  Does your worship service include people laughing or being slain in the spirit?

13.  Do you preach sermons that talk about exposing false teachers and false doctrines, or do you preach that Christians should never question anointed teachers?

14.  What curricula do your children and teen programs use?

15.  Are you a Willow Creek Association church?

DEPTH OF SPIRITUALITY LEADERSHIP

16.   Who are some of your favorite authors? What books other than the bible have influenced your theology or teachings?

17.  To whom are church leaders accountable? Has your leadership ever been questioned by members? How was it addressed?

18.  What growth is more important to our church—growth in numbers or in depth of spiritual commitment of our members? (Only let them pick one, not both !!)

19.  What is the most crucial issue your church has faced and how was it resolved?

20.  How do you determine the spiritual growth of your members?

SOCIAL ISSUES

21.  What is meant by the word “Church,” and what is its purpose?

22.  What is the role of the church in social issues or politics?

23.  When do you believe that life begins?

24.  What are the church’s views on marriage and sexuality? Please share scriptures that confirm your beliefs.

25.  How does the church feel about/handle divorce among your members?

26.  What are your views on “contextualization” of the gospel? How important is being “relevant” to the community?

27.  Do you believe that Christians and Muslims pray to the same God; that Yahweh and Allah are the same?

MODERN MOVEMENTS WITHIN THE CHURCH

28.  What are your thoughts and the church’s stances on:

29.  The Purpose Driven Church

30.  Spiritual Formation

31.  Contemplative Prayer and Biblical meditation

32.  Word of Faith

33.  The New Apostolic Reformation

34.  Social Justice Movement

35.  The Emergent Church

Related articles

9 Responses to “Church shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church”

  1. Dan #

    I think fruit would have to be looked at to determine what you are dealing with:

    You can have a bible preaching church filled with self righteousness and religion who are inwardly focused, entirely lacking in grace and mercy and love. The idol here is knowledge and they deny the Holy Spirits power.

    You can also have the opposite where you have a building full of non Christians who outwardly appear better than Christians and think pursuing good deeds is the path to salvation. These will stay away from the gospel of Jesus Christ but will use God’s word to provoke action from the members as well as guilt. The idol here is works.

    If you go to a church and all the area demographics are represented and they hold up the word of life and the sanctifying work of the holy spirit. Where the elders know God’s word and love it and try to walk in obedience to it, knowing it is through obedience that the truth of God’s word is opened to us. Where no one thinks himself very much but Christ Jesus and him crucified is their boast. A group whose aim is to die to self as demonstrated by their love for one another and are willing to be held accountable to that standard of selflessness represented by our Savior, who came not to do His own will but the One who sent Him. That group you would want to tie into and not let go. Their banner is Jesus Christ and their lives show it.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:47 AM Reply
  2. Dan, I just heard a very interesting teaching on Fruit and what it really is. The teacher said most of us think of fruit as good works…. Anyway if you are interested, here is the link: http://bit.ly/MDJo9b

    August 3, 2012 at 10:50 AM Reply
  3. mw4tkn #

    Some great questions. Moved to Texas 2 years ago and asked many questions, I think allot of Pastors are like woah who is this guy? Allot of the readers may not know why some of these questions are important.

    August 19, 2013 at 2:59 AM Reply
  4. Buffy #

    This has been the huge dilemma of my life of late. I have been to every church that might have had hope in the area (about 50,000 population). Truly, they are either into seeker sensitive stuff, emergent, mystical stuff, eastern meditation, Beth Moore, Richard Foster on and on it goes! I have left several churches who told me they were not into this or that, only to find out that they were!

    I was in a church which I liked and joined and after assurances from the pastor that they were not into Rick Warren and within a short time, they trotted out the old Purpose Driven Church book and started using “The lingo”. Then I found out that the adult Sunday School teacher got his daily devotions right from Warren’s daily devotions. That pastor got mad at me, so did that teacher.

    I was in another church that I felt okay with because I used to go to it when my children were growing up. I was shocked to hear the pastor try to teach the whole church how to do meditation via Richard Foster! Then the women were doing Beth Moore stuff and then moved on to Joyce Meyer. When I came to talk to the pastor with an armload of material on Foster, he got mad when I mentioned Rick Warren in a negative way. It was like that whole church was under a trance. When I tried to talk to the women about Moore and Meyer, their answer was to remove me from their email list! I have since run into some of them around town and some (not all) would not even speak to me when I was a matter of inches from them!

    I had gotten to a point of having a long list of “pastor questions” and I am sure this was a pain for the pastors I talked to. Many had not a clue why I had trouble with Rick Warren! When I asked them if they would read a book about him…nope! Now I am the lay person in this deal, why don’t they have the answers?

    Then I read stuff by people who sit in judgment because others don’t have a church. They use stuff like the old rag, ”If you find a perfect church, don’t join it, because you will ruin it”. First off, I do not expect, nor look for perfection, but being free of false teachers should not be too much to ask! Why am I the trouble maker when I want to hear Bible and not feel good platitudes? Why am I ruining things when I want to sing hymns filled with wonderful doctrine, instead of mindless praise songs that belong at church camp campfires at best? Some of these praise songs have refrains that are sung over and over and over until I just can’t stand it anymore and stop singing. Have any of you ever noticed that many of the modern praise songs take the focus off from what the Lord has done for us and puts it onto what WE are doing to praise Him and how long WE will praise him.

    Grouchy old woman? Maybe, but I just want to worship an awesome God in a way that glories Him, not man. I want to hear God’s Word in church, not man’s, I want to sing Hymns that glorify Him and what he has done to save us. Anything less is not really worshipping Him, in my opinion! I drive way out into the country now and have found a lovely small country church that seems to love the Lord, preach the Bible, sing hymns and welcome those who want the same. I am happy to be able to have that, but sad that I am surrounded by churches that I don’t feel safe to attend. I am sad that I have to drive that far to go to a safe church.

    August 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM Reply
    • Marsha R. #

      Buffy, remember what Jesus said…..His true disciples will be persecuted! Matthew 7:14 says “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” We are the few who find it. God’s Spirit is within all of us that are feeling the exact same way. We are fed up with these churches of today that are NOT being the churches as Jesus commanded. In fact, when we attend, we feel a part of something that is almost “evil” if you will and the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us tells us that we cannot be a part of the heresy taking place! Maybe it would be alright if God could use us in a church where we could speak His Truth and changes would take place. However, the apostasy is so widespread that I’m beginning to believe that we, as true Christians, are being called OUT OF THE CHURCH. Perhaps soon, we will be creating underground churches? I believe that’s where it’s heading. I am, personally, worshipping God from my home and know of many other mature Christian believers that are doing the same. They believe that God has called them out of the church as well. It’s no coincidence that we are ALL feeling this way. I believe the Holy Spirit is doing a mighty work in us and God is paving the way for His will to be done. Right now, we just don’t know what that is at the moment. However, I believe the Lord Jesus is coming very SOON! Praise God. :)

      August 22, 2013 at 6:05 AM Reply
  5. Buffy , wow thanks for sharing!!

    Lately, I can relate…

    August 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM Reply
  6. SammiD #

    Right on Buffy!
    I will not andI have not attended church for years because every church in my area is like the ones you described! I am a Christian and I worship God in my home.
    What else can we do?

    August 20, 2013 at 5:56 AM Reply
  7. You have a great list, but as a Pastor, I can tell you that Pastors will give you the answer you want. These questions need to be reworded to get the “real” answer. I’ve given a rework of the first 4 questions.

    1. Is the Bible the 100% true, accurate Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit? Change this to: “How do you hear from God?” If they say “The Bible and only the Bible,” you’ve got a winner. If they say “the Bible, circumstances, other people…” go ahead and end the interview.

    2. Is Jesus the Son of God and the only way to eternal life with God? Is there any way to God or eternal life other than through Jesus? Change this to: “What happens to people who have never heard the Gospel, are they saved?” While this is a tough question, it gives insight into the Pastor’s insistence that Jesus is the only way.

    3. What does the Bible say the world will look like when Jesus returns? Do we need to gain dominion of the earth before that happens? Change to: “What are some things the church can do to expand the Kingdom of God to usher Christ’s return?” If he gives any answer other than “nothing,” then move on.

    4. Can man, through his actions, change or alter biblical prophecy? Change to: “It seems like many things in the Middle East are a fulfillment of prophecy, or perhaps they are the result of some bad political decisions after WWII. Do you have some thoughts on this?” His answer will reveal whether or not he thinks there is a fulfillment of prophetic events.

    Bottom line: don’t give your answer then ask your question, because the Pastor will likely tell you what you want to hear. This may even be subconscious. Craft questions that force the Pastor to give an answer without knowing your position. Be careful not to respond too much to each question, or he will know your position by the end of the interview.

    I am a Pastor, and I love it when people dig into my theology. I want a good fit between me and my church members, and when they ask questions, I can begin to know whether this will work or not.

    August 20, 2013 at 7:29 AM Reply

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(revised 01/04/14)

Since their inception in the early to mid-1990s,  the Emerging/Emergent/ Emergence church movements have been growing virtually undetected. However, in recent years, church attenders are becoming increasingly aware of these movements, due in large part to various Online Discernment Ministries (ODMs).

I am reposting an article by Dave Fiorazo revealing the heretical anti-Christian teachings of several leading Emergents. Click here for the original source of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange , and inserted comments in [brackets].

Where Did the Emergent Church ‘Emerge’ From?
By: Dave Fiorazo

WARNING: The author of this article has determined that ignoring the following information may be hazardous to your spiritual health, and that choosing to do nothing with this knowledge may grieve the Holy Spirit and cause regret; but taking action may strengthen your faith. “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 1:3-4)

The emerging church is a movement of the late 20th and early 21st century that crosses a number of theological boundaries: participants can be described as evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal or post-liberal, reformed, neo-charismatic, and post-charismatic. [And many additional labels as well.] They seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a “Postmodern” society. It is a rapidly growing network of individual believers and churches who would prefer to be understood as a conversation or a friendship rather than an organization. What those involved mostly agree on is their disdain and disillusionment with the organized and institutional church. The emergent church favors the use of simple story and narrative. Members of the movement often place a high value on good works or social activism. The hallmark of the emergent church is the new age aspect including the practice of contemplative monastic meditation and prayers. While some emphasize eternal salvation, many in the emerging church emphasize the here and now. Much of its doctrine  rejects systematic Christian theology, the integrity of Scripture, and gospel exclusivity. [Interestingly, many Emergents refuse to produce doctrinal statements summarizing their positions. Ironically, church history shows that doctrinal statements were developed to address false teachings within Christendom.] They don’t believe Christianity is the true religion and they promote homosexuality. They call for diversity, tolerance and camaraderie among all religions, and they modify and expand their teachings. It is a war against the Truth.

At an emergent church workshop in San Diego, Tony Jones said, “This is about our belief that theology changes. The message of the gospel changes. It’s not just the method that changes.” What? I submit to you that Jesus never changed his message to fit the times. Books, sermons and articles have been and will be written about the emergent church, and I’ve come to realize that too many believers are at times uninterested, uninformed, or just plain apathetic about the Bible and understanding the times we live in. There’s plenty of information out there if you’re interested in doing the research. You may even know their names. They are best-selling authors in Christian stores, speakers at our music festivals, and well-known leaders in Christian circles. Please read the following quotes from emergent church leaders, keeping the following verses in mind:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1

“Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:30

Tony Campolo“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

(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”.)

***

Brian McLaren“I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts…” 2a

“Yes, I find a character named God who sends a flood that destroys all humanity except Noah’s family, but that’s almost trivial compared to a deity who tortures the greater part of humanity forever in infinite eternal conscious torment, three words that need to be read slowly and thoughtfully to feel their full import.” 2b

“For many Christians, their faith is primarily about what happens to people after they die. That distracts them from seeking justice and living in a compassionate way while we’re still alive in this life. We need to go back and take another look at Jesus’ teachings about hell. For so many people, the conventional teaching about hell makes God seem vicious. That’s not something we should let stand.” 2c

“In this light, a god who mandates an intentional supernatural disaster leading to unparalleled genocide is hardly worthy of belief, much less worship. How can you ask your children…to honor a deity so uncreative, over reactive, and utterly capricious regarding life?” 2d

(Brian McLaren is the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, MD, he serves as a board chair for Sojourners, an emergent church leader and a founding member of Red Letter Christians.)

***

Jim Wallis“I don’t think that abortion is the moral equivalent issue to slavery…I think poverty is the new slavery. Poverty and global inequality are the fundamental moral issues of our time. That’s my judgment.” 3a

“Christianity will be impotent to lead a conversation on sexuality and gender if we do not bodily integrate our current understandings of humanity with our theology. This will require us to not only draw new conclusions about sexuality but will force us to consider new ways of being sexual.” 3b

“As more Christians become influenced by liberation theology, finding themselves increasingly rejecting the values of institutions of capitalism, they will also be drawn to the Marxist analysis and praxis that is so central to the social justice movement.” 3c

(Jim Wallis is a writer and political activist, best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners’ Magazine, for which he admitted to accepting money from George Soros, who has financed groups supporting abortion and atheism; Wallis has been arrested 22 times for acts of civil disobedience, and he serves as a spiritual adviser to President Obama.)

***

Rob Bell“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? …Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live?” 4a
*This writer is concerned that Rob had his bell rung one too many times.

(Rob Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, and a popular icon in the emergent church movement.)

Related information from GFM:
Rob Bell: Populating Hell (Article)
Rob Bell: Welcome to Hell (Audio Resource)

***

Tony Jones“In any case, I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer] can live lives in accord with Biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.” 5a

I think the Bible is a [expletive] scary book (pardon my French, but that’s the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this).” 5b

“Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God’s wrath burned against his son instead of me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.” 5c

(Tony Jones is an author and a leader in the emergent church movement, blogger, and social commentator)

***

Shane Claiborne“There are extremists, both Muslim and Christian, who kill in the name of their gods.” 6a

“So for those of us who have nearly given up the church, may we take comfort in the words of St. Augustine: ‘The Church is a whore, but she’s my mother.’ She is a mess and has many illegitimate children. But she is also our momma…” 6b

(Shane Claiborne is an author, the co-founder of The Potter Street Community – formerly The Simple Way, a graduate of Eastern University and is a part of The Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Claiborne is featured in the documentary “The Ordinary Radicals” and wrote the foreword to Ben Lowe’s “Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation.”)

How did we get to the point where some, if not all, of these teachings have blended in with truth and sound doctrine, and are accepted by many churches and ministries? Make no mistake. I’d need to write an entire book to completely answer that question. False teachers have been around since the early church days. The major issue with the emergent church is that it rejects the authority of the word of God. These teachings were not accepted by evangelical Christians overnight. This is 2010. We can trace the advancement of the emergent church to the late 80’s and 90’s, when people began talking about how to modernize and re-create church to be more attractive to the unchurched. But going back to the hippy flower-power days of the 1960’s, the new fad was all about peace, love, free sex, and rebelling against authority. Absolute truth and Biblical standards were questioned and labeled as too rigid, leading some to moral relativism. Moral Relativism is an ethical judgment. It is the claim that no ethical system is better than another, and rests on the belief that values are subjective.

Some churches responded to the 60’s rebellion by trying to convert as many as possible and accepted them as they were. ‘Come as you are’ was the new slogan. Jesus does meet people right where they are, but there’s an important distinction: He loves people too much to leave them that way, and unlike the emergent church, His message never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8) Many churches began watering down the true gospel in an effort to lure potential new members and not offend unbelievers. Some Pastors and church leaders simply wanted to increase their market share, so to speak. The seeker-friendly or seeker-sensitive movement began to grow and a skim milk diet replaced the meat of God’s word. More young people began attending church but there was little follow-up or discipleship training, and lots of baby Christians went back out into the world with little conviction to change.

Mega ChurchThe 1970’s brought us the development of the Christian music industry. Most of the industry pioneers were authentic, God-fearing, and ministry-minded, but I wonder if they would approve of Christian music as a whole today? In some cases, bands are more into the entertainment aspect than building up the body of Christ. Biblical truth was becoming irrelevant to young Christians and grace was way over-emphasized. One might argue that we shouldn’t judge others because it is divisive. In Luke 12:51, Jesus said that he did not come to bring peace but division. He never backed down when it came to facing hypocritical religious leaders. If you’re a mature Christian, you too need to be careful. The Apostle Paul writes, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Gal. 5:7-9) Many churches in America now have beautiful buildings, coffee shops, bookstores, great music and sound systems, state of the art lighting, and good drama or video presentations, but they seem to put more of an emphasis on entertaining the flock than on feeding them God’s word. Well, at least the young people are happy.

The 80’s rolled around and a few years after I gave my life to Christ, I heard Tony Campolo speak in California. I remember laughing a lot because he’s a great entertainer. He knows how to reach both young and old. His presentation has never been a concern; his theology definitely is. To fully understand the background and motives of some of the emergent church gurus, you’d need to know more about Liberation theology, Marxism, Saul Alinsky, Sojourners Magazine, George Soros, Red Letter Christians, Collective Salvation, and the Students for a Democratic Society. Most young people like to take action for a cause, and some of these works-based teachings call for organizing, social or environmental action. This is a clever way to lure those who are not as mature in the faith.

In 1995 Jim Wallis founded ‘Call to Renewal’ for the purposes of advocating for leftist economic agendas such as tax hikes and wealth redistribution to promote social justice. He himself stated, “That’s what the gospel is all about.” In 2005, Democratic Senators (including Harry Reid) met with Wallis to devise clever ways to use religious language to pull evangelical voters away from Republicans. According to TraditionalValues.org, Wallis was hired to fool Americans into believing secular liberals had found “religion” in part by sprinkling references to God and faith into their speeches. Just this year, Wallis has criticized America’s heritage, capitalism, conservative Christians, and jumped on the race card express saying, “would there even be a Tea Party if the president of the United States weren’t the first black man to occupy that office?”

God Versus SocialismThe “social gospel” and the social justice message is an apostasy. Apostasy means a departure from the faith or one who denies the fundamental doctrines concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ. Social justice teachings have branched off from the emergent church. We can no longer deny the fact that humanism, liberalism and the secular-progressive movement are alive and well in the Church, just as it has been for years in government, education, media, and the entertainment industry. Last month, Jim Wallis brought his social justice message to a Christian festival in Wisconsin called Lifest. (Wallis’ Sojourners puts more emphasis on the environment and poverty than on salvation and sin.) Because there were many great bands and speakers there, I’ve heard a few people try to make an argument in favor of Wallis, with the over-used analogy, “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” So, if only a few people hear a false gospel, that’s ok? “Let’s just agree to disagree.” Sorry, that method may be fine when dealing with petty arguments between friends or family. But when it comes to false doctrines, we can’t simply just look the other way. I heard the story of a woman who told her daughters that they no longer could attend Lifest because of Wallis. Weeks before, she and her husband wanted their young daughters to remember the dangers of false teachers, so they made brownies together. After all of the ingredients were added, she told them there was one more ingredient to add. The girls were shocked when their Mom added a small piece of dog poop to the batter! She told them not to worry and that they might not even taste it. Admittedly, this was a disgustingly effective lesson I bet they’ll never forget! Jesus warned His disciples to avoid the teachings (yeast) of the Pharisees, but He didn’t have a brownie recipe handy for visual effects.

According to Time Magazine (so take this with a grain of salt), Brian McLaren is one of the 25 most influential people in the evangelical church. This makes me believe our culture is confused about what ‘evangelical’ means. It is a serious issue because his teachings seem to reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the work on the cross, and dilutes what the Bible says about Heaven and eternal life. McLaren is changing Biblical doctrine to fit his own ‘We Are the World’ type of theology, which stomps out the reality of Hell and the fact that Jesus became our substitute on the cross in order to redeem us. He doubts the reliability of the Bible and I’m confused as to why he is not more of a red flag to Christians. Please read for yourself what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8 about those who preach another Gospel.

Many of today’s youth have been raised in a culture (and sadly in some churches) where feelings and sensitivity matter but sound doctrine and the truth of God’s word aren’t a priority. This invites the justification of sinful behaviors and tolerance for sin. Our culture has redefined the word ‘tolerance’ to mean love, unconditional grace, warm fuzzies, and the acceptance of not only the sinner but the sin as well. When the Holy Spirit isn’t invited, by the preaching of Scripture, to come in and work in our hearts, there can be no conviction. Without revelation of sin and conviction, there can be no repentance leading to forgiveness. We shouldn’t be surprised that many young Christians have their spiritual foundations built on the sand. The Lord Jesus Christ said something very serious about those who cause little ones to stumble. He said in Luke 17:2 that it would be better that a millstone would be tied around the neck of the one who caused them to sin. These guys have no business teaching Christian theology and it’s amazing that so many ‘believing’ consumers buy into their feel-good, motivational doctrine. Part of their gospel is one of a social worker putting their faith in man (humanism) and government.

Dr. Walter MartinDr. Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute, sternly warned about liberal theology and the emergent church saying, “It is a cult because it follows every outlined structure of cultism; its own revelations; its own gurus, and its denial—systematically—of all sound systematic Christian theology. It is a cult because it passes its leadership on to the next group that takes over—either modifying, expanding or contracting—the same heresies; dressing them up in different language, and passing them on…it denies the authority of Scripture, it ruins its own theology. And it ends in immorality; because the only way you could have gotten to this homosexual, morally relativistic, garbage—which is today in our denominational structures—is if the leadership of those denominations denied the authority of the Scriptures and Jesus Christ as Lord…Test all things; make sure of what is true (see 1 Thessalonians 5:21). I’m not being harsh; I’m not being judgmental. I am being thoroughly, consistently, Christian; in the light of historic theology, and the holy Bible.”

So what should we do? Since not enough Christians know the dangers and the extent of the emergent church movement and their radical teachings, we need to promote awareness of these deceptions. We need to dig deeper in to the Word of God than ever before and know it so well that if we hear a counterfeit message, we’ll recognize it immediately! We need to talk to our Pastors and Christian friends. You have a choice to make and I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and take a stand for Christ. The spiritual battle rages all around us and the enemy is on our doorstep. Satan has been at work at a church near you spreading his deceptions. The good news is that we are on to his schemes. Mature believers know that the emergent church teachings are contrary to the gospel of Christ. So suit up in the full armor of God and pray for discernment. Revelation 3:11 says, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” Light dispels the darkness, so share the truth, stand your ground, and shine your light!

Dave Fiorazo is an evangelical Christian, actor, blogger and on-air radio personality at Q90 90.1FM WORQ in De Pere, WI.

References:
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

2a A Generous Orthodoxy, page 260;
2b A New Kind of Christianity, 98;
2c Site no longer available;
2d A New Kind of Christianity,109;

3a ChristianityToday.com 5/9/2008;
3b ChristianityToday.com 5/9/2008;
3c Worldview Weekend.com 8/3/2010 #1597;

4a Velvet Elvis pp. 26-27;

5a Beliefnet.com 11/19/08 blog;
5b The church and postmodern culture: conversation 3-26-07;
5c Beliefnet.com ‘Why Jesus Died’ 4/09;

6a From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne
6b From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne
6c From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne

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(revised 10/18/19)

I would label myself theologically as:

1) Saved – a converted, born again Christian (John Chapter 3). I strongly believe that becoming born again must involve repentance of sin. I would define “repentance” as a sincere change of heart and a turning from sin (a willingness to give up sin).
2) Sanctified – separated from worldly sins, totally committed to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2)
3) Spirit filled – I prefer this to the term Spirit baptized. I do not believe tongues is a necessary initial sign of being Spirit filled (the Second Blessing).
4) Soul winning – passionately witnessing to people, carrying out the Great Commission. This does not include the Great Commandment, which postmoderns have twisted into a social gospel combined with the Great Commission. Yes, we should love our neighbor, but compassion/social justice/being missional will not get people saved – they have to hear the gospel message of what I call “the Blood and the Cross”.
5) Separatist – practicing primary and secondary ecclesiastical separation from those who teach heresies/false teachings/serious errors
6) Textus Receptus only – holding to translations of the Textus Receptus New Testament and Masoretic Old Testament in various languages. I believe that in the English speaking world, the best such translation by far is the KJV.
7) Premillenial, leaning towards Post-Trib
8) Wesleyan Holiness – I most closely identify with the Conservative Holiness movement
7) Fundamentalist

Note – in point #7 above, I am using the term “fundamentalist” as an adherent of most of the articles in The Fundamentals of 1910-1915. Some writers of The Fundamentals fell short of being biblically sound (see Footnote #1).

There were many “born again separatist fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness” churches prior to the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in 1942. Unfortunately, in the years that followed, many Wesleyan Holiness churches abandoned the practices of primary separation and secondary separation.

I must admit, I love many of today’s Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches, particularly those recommended by Bro. David Cloud. I do not necessarily agree with all IFB doctrinal positions. But IFB churches historically hold to many of the same standards Wesleyan Holiness fundamentalists held prior to 1942 – including ecclesiastical separation and “militant fundamentalism”  i.e. speaking out strongly against modernism, etc. (Unfortunately, ecclesiastical separation and militant fundamentalism are two traits Dr. Reasoner opposes – see his comments at the end of the repost below.)

I do not necessarily agree with all the theological views of Dr. Reasoner. The following article by Dr. Reasoner does nonetheless represent most of my views. Another caveat – I do not agree with everything on the website which provided this article, but I found this specific article to be “right on” for the most part. Click on the article titles for the original sources of the articles (Parts I and II). I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

WHAT IS A FUNDAMENTAL WESLEYAN? [Part I]
Dr. Vic Reasoner

Every generation must apply the timeless truths of Scripture to their contemporary questions. While it is enough under ordinary circumstances to profess faith in Jesus Christ, throughout the history of the Christian Church there have been major disagreements as to the proper explanation of our faith. We do not desire to be divisive, but we believe we are to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

1. We are earnest Christians

God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. We endeavor to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We have no desire to break fellowship with any brother or sister whom God has accepted into the spiritual family. We seek to maintain the “Catholic Spirit” exemplified by John Wesley’s famous sermon by that title. The word “ecumenical” refers to worldwide Christian unity and cooperation. In the early days of the Christian Church there were four major ecumenical councils which reaffirmed the teachings of Scripture and kept the Church on track. These councils did not convene because the Scriptures were not sufficient, but in the face of contemporary questions the councils convened to state a scriptural response.

In more recent times, though, ecumenical gatherings have even included those who have denied the faith. In order to reach a consensus these councils have sought unity at the lowest common denominator. Unlike the early councils which promoted orthodoxy, the modern ecumenical movement has been too willing to compromise orthodoxy for the sake of union. truth is not determined by a denomination board and we dare not surrender our conscience to any ecclesiastical hierarchy.

2. We are Protestants

Although some evangelicals are now expressing a willingness to cooperate with Rome, the greatest unresolved issue is the issue of authority. We maintain, along with Luther, that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. What Luther means by sola scriptura is essentially what Wesley meant by homo unius libri (a man of one book). When challenged that he misunderstood the scriptural teaching on the new birth, Wesley wrote in his Journal, that he turned to his Greek New Testament “resolving to abide by ‘the law and the testimony,’ and being confident that God would hereby show me ‘whether this doctrine was of God.'”

We reject the apocryphal books declared four hundred years ago to be Scripture by the Roman Church at the Council of Trent. In opposition to the Roman Catholic coupling of Scripture and church tradition as joint rules of faith we stand for the sufficiency of Scripture. There is no dual authority. John Wesley explained

The faith of the Protestants, in general, embraces only those truths, as necessary to salvation, which are clearly revealed in the oracles of God. Whatever is plainly declared in the Old and New Testament is the object of their faith. They believed neither more nor less than what is manifestly contained in, and provable by, the Holy Scriptures. The Word of God is a “lantern to their feet, and a light in all their paths.” They dare not, on any pretence, go from it, to the right hand or to the left. The written Word is the whole and sole rules of their faith, as well as practice. They believe whatsoever God has declared, and profess to do whatsoever He hath commanded. This is the proper faith of Protestants: by this they will abide and no other (“On Faith,” sermon #106).

In his statement on “The Character of a Methodist,” Wesley affirmed “the written word of God to be the only and sufficient rule both of Christian faith and practice; and herein we are fundamentally distinguished from those of the Romish Church.”

We watch with concern the developments surrounding the manifesto “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium.” The Roman Catholic Church pronounced at the Council of Trent over four hundred years ago that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is anathema.

John Wesley affirmed with Martin Luther that justification by faith alone was “the article by which the Church stands or falls” (see “The Lord Our Righteousness, sermon #20). We stand with Martin Luther and raise our voices in protest against all who deny that salvation is by grace through faith. Until this position is officially accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, we remain Protestants.

WHAT IS A FUNDAMENTAL WESLEYAN? [Part II]
Dr. Vic Reasoner

3. We are Wesleyan-Arminians

Although the name of James Arminius is still maligned, few have matched him in scholarship and sainthood. In contrast to the rigid dogmatism that so often accompanies those who contend for the faith, Wesley cautioned, “It is the duty of every Arminian preacher, first, never in public or in private, to use the word Calvinist as a term of reproach.”

When Arminianism loses the balance of the Holy Spirit it becomes humanistic, teaching we are saved by an act of our free will. Likewise, Calvinism tends toward fatalism. Wesley argued for a balance between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. He said Methodism came within a hair’s breadth of Calvinism by ascribing all good to the free grace of God, by denying all natural free will, and in excluding all human merit. Therefore, as fundamental Wesleyans we have as much in common with conservative Calvinism as with liberal Arminianism.

In agreement with Calvinism we affirm man’s natural inability to do good apart from divine grace. In contrast to Calvinism, we believe the Scriptures teach a conditional election, a universal atonement, prevenient grace, and conditional perseverance.

Wesley affirmed the position of Arminius while giving a new emphasis to the witness of the Spirit and sanctification. Wesley also observed, “Who has wrote more ably than Martin Luther on justification by faith alone? And who was more ignorant of the doctrine of sanctification, or more confused in his conceptions of it?”

As Wesleyans we believe in an infallible Book, the fall and sinfulness of mankind, a universal atonement, and prevenient grace. The work of the Holy Spirit in awakening, conviction, repentance, and faith produces all these gifts from God. We believe in justification by faith, regeneration through the baptism with the Spirit, and adoption into the family of God. We believe in the necessity of the new birth, which gives victory over outward sin and is always attested to by the direct witness of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the indwelling Spirit begins the process of sanctification and brings assurance witnessing with our own spirit. We believe the Spirit will lead us to Christian maturity as individuals and through the outpouring of the Spirit in revival, the kingdom of God will cover the earth.

4. We are fundamentalists

By the turn of the twentieth century historic Christianity was under attack. Fundamentalism at its best was a modern attempt to defend historic Christianity. With the validity of the Bible under attack, fundamentalism was originally a battle for the Bible.

Since the modern fundamentalist movement came a hundred years after Wesley we would not expect him to use their precise language. If you read secondary sources about Wesley by liberal authors, you will find he always seems to agree with them. However, if you read Wesley himself you find him saying, “My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible-bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small.” “Believe nothing they say, unless it is clearly confirmed by plain passages of holy writ.” “If there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there is one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.”

We recognize Adam Clarke as a pioneer in the comparison of biblical texts, known as lower or textual criticism. Yet Clarke concluded, “Men may err, but the Scriptures cannot; for it is theWord of God himself, who can neither mistake, deceive, nor be deceived” (Works, 12:132, see also Commentary, 5:11). However, we deny the value of and reject the conclusions of destructive higher criticism which starts with naturalistic presuppositions. Modern Wesleyan scholars have all too often capitulated to the higher critic in an attempt to gain acceptability for our message. But once our doctrinal source is impugned our message is stripped of its authority.

William Abraham wrote The Coming Great Revival in 1984, declaring that modern evangelicalism is at an impasse. The dilemma of evangelicalism is whether it will revert back to fundamentalism or blend in with liberalism? Abraham feels that the Wesleyan tradition has a solution to this impasse, but only if we purify ourselves of our fundamentalist corruption, repudiate the inerrancy of Scripture, and make a “bold and unqualified commitment to critical work in biblical studies.” But revival has come when the integrity of the Word of God was upheld and preached it with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. If we replace the living bread of God’s infallible Word with the barren stone of higher criticism, we have nothing to contribute to the impasse and we will move towards apostasy, not revival.

While Wesley argued for liberty concerning nonessentials, he also believed there are essential Christian doctrines which must be maintained in order to be Christian. In his preface to theNotes Upon the Old Testament, Wesley spoke of “those grand, fundamental doctrines, original sin, justification by faith, the new birth, inward and outward holiness.”

However, we must defend Christian doctrine with a Christlike spirit. Fundamentalism has too often been associated with harsh, bitter attitude, a separatist mentality, and a bizarre form of prophecy known as “dispensationalism.” [I would disagree with Dr. Reasoner regarding this  previous sentence – I believe we should have a “separatist mentality” i.e. practice ecclesiastical separation. And although I am not completely comfortable with dispensationalism, I am premillenial (unlike dispensationalists, I am leaning towards a post-Trib view). Dr. Reasoner, on the other hand, is not even in the same eschatological ballpark – he is a postmillenial preterist; see the latter part of this article.]

We are fundamentalists only so long as we define what constitutes the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. And unlike militant fundamentalism , we endeavor the practice the “catholic spirit” of love towards our Christian neighbor with whom we may disagree. Our use of the word fundamental primarily refers to the Scripture as our sole authority. [Here too I would differ with Dr. Reasoner; I admire the “militant fundamentalism” of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists today who speak out loudly against ecumenism, modernism, etc. And this militant fundamentalism was common among Wesleyan Holiness denominations before the National Association of Evangelicals was formed in 1942.]

As early as 1916 J. B. Chapman, editor of the Herald of Holiness, wrestled with this terminology. He stated that Nazarenes believed in the fundamentals and then proceeded to give his list of fundamental doctrines. However, if the question is raised whether Nazarenes are Fundamentalists, using the term as a proper noun, Chapman answered, “Yes, with reservations.” While Chapman had reservations about certain Calvinistic tendencies among Fundamentalists, there was no reservation, however, concerning the inerrancy of Scripture. We are in agreement with Chapman at this point.

Our commission is to preach the whole Book to the whole world. We are to preach a free gospel for all men and a full gospel from all sin. Anything short of this is neither apostolic nor Wesleyan.

FOOTNOTES

#1) See the quote from Bro. David Cloud, found here. I have emphasized certain points by bolding:

The authors of The Fundamentals represented the broader approach to fundamentalism. They held a wide variety of doctrine, some holding very serious doctrinal errors. For example, James Orr of Scotland denied the verbal inspiration of Scripture and allowed for theistic evolution.  J. Campbell Morgan denied the literal fire of hell and believed that men could be saved even if they do not hear of nor believe in Christ.

Some men who started out with the fundamentalist movement turned back and renounced their former position. For example, A.C. Dixon was the executive secretary of the committee that produced The Fundamentals. Historian George Dollar observes that though Dixon was a fundamentalist for many years, he “deserted because of the stigmas and battles of separatism.” Dixon helped found the Baptist Bible Union in opposition to the liberal Northern Baptist Convention, but “right in the middle of the fiercest battles against the liberals within the convention, Dixon abruptly and without warning turned in his resignation.” He went back into the very denomination that he had left and publicly called upon others to do the same. There were many sad cases like this that discouraged and confused the hearts of those who were in the battle for the truth.

FOR FURTHER READING

Harriet A. Harris, Fundamentalism and Evangelicals – many pages viewable online here. Although Ms. Harris takes a generally critical view of Fundamentalism, she nonetheless provides many helpful historical details.

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(revised 01/17/14)

Many attend a postmodern (Emerging/Emergent) church because they like the praise and worship music, or they like the preaching style, or whatever. Many may not even be aware their pastors are teaching heresies straight from the books of Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, etc.

My point is, I’m wondering if we should be using a two-pronged approach in Counter-Emergent discernment ministries: 1) exposing and informing about Emerging/Emergent false teachers and 2) witnessing to “saved” and unsaved church attenders who are merely followers of “every wind and wave” of doctrine.

Of course there is a spectrum of Emerging/Emergent church attenders, from the elderly who have never heard of Foster, McLaren, Sweet, Campolo, etc. to young people admiring Emergents (they will fight us tooth and nail).

I have reposted a great article by Ron Rhodes, entitled “Witnessing to Liberals.” Although not specifically mentioning Emergents, it covers many of the same issues. Click here for the original site of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Witnessing to Liberals
by Ron Rhodes

Liberal Christians [so-called “Christians”] typically seek to adapt religious ideas to modern science. Their goal is to make Christianity “relevant” to modern man. By elevating science to supreme authority, they assume the Bible is a fallible human document, approach Scripture with an antisupernatural bias, and dismiss miracles as the fantasies of ignorant people in biblical times who did not understand the laws of nature. They also view humanity as fundamentally good, with no real sin problem.

Jesus is not viewed as God incarnate as God incarnate or as a divine Savior. Rather, He was a man supremely full of God and was characterized by ethical and moral excellence. He is an example to – and moral teacher of – the human race. He didn’t die on the cross for our sins, but His death nevertheless has an uplifting “moral influence” on people (setting an example of sacrifice).

God’s primary attribute is said to be love. His holiness, judgment, and wrath are practically ignored. Thus, it is not surprising that liberal Christians hold out the hope of immortality for all people. The idea that any will spend eternity in hell is rejected.

Confronted with such a plethora of unbiblical ideas, conservative Christians might wonder how to begin in evangelizing their liberal counterparts. Following are some guidelines I have found helpful when dialoguing with liberal Christians.

Be loving. Liberal Christians sometimes view evangelicals as narrow-minded and unloving. For this reason it is all the more important that all of your personal encounters with liberals be marked by love. Be courteous, tactful, kind, and humble.

Debunk the caricatures liberal Christians often have regarding evangelicals. As a case in point, some liberal Christians think typical evangelicals believe in the dictation theory of inspiration (the view that God literally dictated the Bible word for word to the biblical writers). Emphasize that typical evangelicals reject this view.

At the same time, however, be ready to explain and defend the correct view of inspiration. Biblical inspiration may be defined as God’s superintending of the human authors so that, using (rather than bypassing) their own historical situations, personalities, and writing styles, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to humankind (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). (Space forbids a detailed apologetic defense of inspiration, but good resources are available for this.)

A necessary consequence of this view of inspiration is that the authority of Scripture cannot be separated from the authority of God. Whatever the Bible affirms, God affirms. Since the written revelation from God has been recorded under the Spirit’s direct superintendence, that revelation is authoritative – just as authoritative as the One who gave it.

Now, besides dealing with inspiration, you should also address the liberal view that because the four gospel writers had theological motives (the intent to convince readers of Jesus’ deity, for example), their historical testimony is untrustworthy. This is clearly faulty reasoning. As scholar Craig Blomberg put it, “The fallacy…is to imagine that telling a story for a purpose, even in the service of a cause one believes in passionately, necessarily forces one to distort history. In our modern era, some of the most reliable reporters of the Nazi Holocaust were Jews passionately committed to seeing such genocide never repeated.”

Another caricature you may need to deal with is the liberal’s misperception that evangelicals interpret Scripture too literally. Point out that evangelicals do not hold to a “wooden literalism” – the kind that interprets biblical figures of speech literally. Explain that what is understood to be symbolic and what is taken literally should be based on the biblical context itself – such as when Jesus used obviously figurative parables to communicate spiritual truth.

Emphasize that a literal approach to Scripture recognizes that the Bible contains a variety of literary genres, each of which have certain peculiar characteristics that must be recognized in order to interpret the text properly. Biblical genres include the historical (e.g., Acts), the dramatic epic (e.g., Job), poetry (e.g., Psalms), wise sayings (e.g., Proverbs), and apocalyptic writings (e.g., Revelation). Point out that an incorrect genre judgment will lead one far astray in interpreting Scripture.

Even though the Bible contains a variety of literary genres and many figures of speech, the biblical authors most often employed literal statements to convey their ideas. And where they use a literal means to express their ideas, the Bible expositor must employ a corresponding means to explain these ideas – namely, a literal approach. Such an approach gives to each word in the text the same basic meaning it would have in normal, ordinary, customary usage – whether employed in writing, speaking, or thinking. Without such a method, communication between God and humankind is impossible.

A third caricature you may have to deal with is the notion that evangelicals are unaware of – or are not willing to deal with – so-called contradictions in the Bible. Challenge this charge. Put the burden on the liberal, and ask him or her to cite specific contradictions. Use resources like Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties and Norman Geisler’s When Critics Ask to demonstrate that there are alternative explanations that make good sense.

Debunk the liberal’s charge that miracles are the fantasies of ignorant people in biblical times who did not understand the laws of nature. People in biblical times did know enough of the laws of nature to recognize bona fide miracles. As C. S. Lewis put it, “When St. Joseph discovered that his bride was pregnant, he was ‘minded to put her away.’ He knew enough biology for that. Otherwise, of course, he would not have regarded pregnancy as a proof of infidelity. When he accepted the Christian explanation, he regarded it as a miracle precisely because he knew enough of the laws of nature to know that this was a suspension of them.”

Moreover, Lewis observed, “when the disciples saw Christ walking on the water they were frightened: they would not have been frightened unless they had known the laws of nature and known that this was an exception. If a man had no conception of a regular order in nature, then of course he could not notice departures from that order.” Nothing can be viewed as “abnormal” until one has first grasped the “norm.”

Don’t let the liberal get away with saying that science “disproves” the biblical miracles. Science depends upon observation and replication. Miracles – such as the Incarnation and the Resurrection – are by their very nature unprecedented events. No one can replicate these events in a laboratory. Hence, science simply cannot be the judge and jury as to whether or not these events occurred. The scientific method is useful for studying nature but not super-nature.

Scientists are speaking outside of their proper field when they address theological issues like miracles. R. C. Sproul observes, “Today when somebody steps outside of his area of expertise, people tend to follow and believe him. That is the basis of much advertising. For example, a baseball star may appear on television and promote a particular brand of razors. If that star were to tell me how to hit a baseball, he would be speaking with authority. But when he tells me the best razor blade to buy is a certain brand, then he is speaking outside of his area of expertise.” Scientists do the same type of thing in regard to miracles.

The skepticism of liberal Christians notwithstanding, there is good reason to believe in the biblical miracles. One highly pertinent factor is the brief time that elapsed between Jesus’ miraculous public ministry and the publication of the gospels. It was insufficient for the development of miracle legends. Many eyewitnesses to Jesus’ miracles would have still been alive to refute any untrue miracle accounts (see 1 Cor. 15:6). One must also recognize the noble character of the men who witnessed these miracles (e.g., Peter, James, and John). Such men were not prone to misrepresentation, and were willing to give up their lives rather than deny their beliefs.

There were also hostile witnesses to the miracles of Christ. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, for example, none of the chief priests or Pharisees disputed the miracle (John 11:45-48). (If they could have disputed it, they would have.) Rather, their goal was simply to stop Jesus (vv. 47-48). Remind the liberal that because there were so many hostile witnesses who observed and scrutinized Christ, successful “fabrication” of miracle stories in His ministry would have been impossible.

Demonstrate that nature and Scripture, properly interpreted, do not conflict. God has communicated to humankind both by general revelation (nature, or the observable universe) and special revelation (the Bible). Since both of these revelations come from God – and since God does not contradict Himself – we must conclude these two revelations are in agreement with each other. While there may be conflicts between one’s interpretation of the observable universe and one’s interpretation of the Bible, there is no ultimate contradiction.

We might say that science is a fallible human interpretation of the observable universe while theology is a fallible human interpretation of the Scriptures. If the liberal challenges the idea that science can be fallible, remind him or her of what science historian Thomas Kuhn proved in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – that is, science is in a constant state of change. New discoveries have consistently caused old scientific paradigms to be discarded in favor of newer paradigms.

Here is the point: it is not nature and Scripture that contradict; rather, it is science (man’s fallible interpretation of nature) and theology (man’s fallible interpretation of Scripture) that sometimes fall into conflict. Hence the liberal cannot simply dismiss certain parts of the Bible because “science and the Bible contradict.”

Also keep in mind that the allegation that the Bible is not scientifically accurate is sometimes related to the Bible’s frequent use of phenomenological language. Ecclesiastes 1:5, for example, refers to the sun “rising and setting.” From a scientific perspective, the sun does not actually rise or set. But let’s be fair. This is the same kind of language weather forecasters use. “Rising” and “setting” are accepted ways of describing what the sun appears to be doing from an earthly perspective.

Demonstrate that Jesus was not a mere example or moral teacher. No mere “example” or “moral teacher” would ever claim that the destiny of the world lay in His hands, or that people would spend eternity in heaven or hell depending on whether they believed in Him (John 6:26-40). The only “example” this would provide would be one of lunacy. And for Jesus to convince people that He was God (John 8:58) and the Savior of the world (Luke 19:10) – when He really wasn’t – would be the ultimate immorality.

Certainly, if Jesus had intended to teach doctrines compatible with liberal Christianity, He was a dire failure as a teacher. Indeed, His words led all those who followed Him during His earthly ministry in the precise opposite direction than He supposedly intended. All His followers ended up believing in miracles, that man is a sinner, that Jesus died on the cross to save them, and so forth.

In proving that Christ is the divine Messiah He claimed to be, one good approach is to demonstrate Jesus’ fulfillment of messianic prophecies in the Old Testament – including ones He couldn’t have conspired to fulfill, such as His birthplace (Mic. 5:2), being born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), and the identity of His forerunner (Mal. 3:1). (This is what first got my attention back in the 1970s when I was attending a liberal church.) Since liberals respect science, mention that the science of statistics shows there is something like a 1 in 1017 chance of one man fulfilling just eight of the hundreds of messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Peter Stoner, author of Science Speaks, provides an illustration to help us understand the magnitude of such odds:

Suppose that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.

Jesus fulfilled not just eight but hundreds of messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Besides this, Jesus is referred to by the names of deity (e.g., “God,” Heb. 1:8; “Lord,” Matt. 22:43-45); has all the attributes of deity (e.g., omnipotence, Matt. 28:18; omniscience, John 1:48; omnipresence, Matt. 18:20); did the works of deity (e.g., creation, John 1:3; raised the dead, John 11:43-44); and was worshiped as deity (Matt. 14:33). You should thoroughly familiarize yourself with these and the many other biblical evidences for Jesus’ deity.

Don’t be surprised if the liberal suggests that Jesus is just “one of many ways to God.” If they propose this theory, you should contrast the doctrine of God (the most fundamental of all doctrines) in the various religions. Jesus, for example, taught that there is only one personal God who is triune in nature (Matt. 28:19). Muhammad taught that there is only one God, but that God cannot have a son. Confucius was polytheistic (he believed in many gods). Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (a Hindu scripture) believed in a combination of polytheism and pantheism (all is God). Zoroaster taught religious dualism (there is both a good and a bad god). Buddha taught that the concept of God was essentially irrelevant. Obviously, these religions are not pointing to the same God. If one is right, all the others are wrong.

Emphasize that Jesus claimed that what He said took precedence over all others. Jesus said He is humanity’s only means of coming into a relationship with God: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). One either accepts or rejects this claim, but no one can deny that it is exclusive.

Emphasize that Christianity is a religion of history. The apostle Paul warned the religious men of Athens of an impending objective event: the divine judgment of all humanity. And he based this warning on the objective, historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 17:31). It was this historical resurrection that instilled such boldness in the disciples. Initially, when Jesus was arrested, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matt. 26:56). But following Jesus’ resurrection, these fearful cowards became steel bulwarks of the faith. They remained unflinching in their commitment to Christ, even in the face of great personal danger and death.

There have been various attempts (especially by liberals) to explain away the resurrection of Christ. One of the most popular of these is that Jesus’ followers made up the resurrection story.

In response, point out how hard it is to believe that these followers – predominantly Jewish and therefore aware of God’s stern commandments against lying and bearing false witness – would make up such a lie, and then suffer and give up their own lives in defense of it. Moreover, if Jesus’ followers concocted events like the Resurrection, wouldn’t Jesus’ critics have then immediately come forward to debunk these lies and put an end to Christianity once and for all?

It is worth noting that the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 speaks of Christ’s resurrection as part of a confession that had been handed down for years. First Corinthians was written around A.D. 55, a mere 20 years after Christ’s resurrection. But many biblical scholars believe the confession in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 was formulated within a few years of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Paul noted that the resurrected Christ appeared to more than 500 people at a single time, “most of whom are still alive” (1 Cor. 15:6). If Paul had misrepresented the facts, wouldn’t one of these 500 have come forward to dispute his claims? From a historical perspective, it seems clear that the evidence for the Resurrection is as strong as (or stronger than) the evidence we have for any other accepted event of ancient times.

Emphasize that Christianity ultimately is a relationship, not a religion. Christianity is not just a set of doctrines or creeds – a “dead orthodoxy.” Rather it involves a personal relationship with the living Lord of the universe. This is the most important truth you will want to leave the liberal to ponder because this is the ingredient of true Christianity that the liberal “Christian” is most painfully lacking.
Jesus said His words lead to eternal life (John 6:63). But for us to receive eternal life through His words, they must be taken as He intended them to be taken. A liberal reinterpretation of Scripture that fails to recognize man’s sin (Luke 19:10) and yields another Jesus and another gospel (2 Cor. 11:3-4; Gal. 1:6-9) will yield only eternal death.

The paradox underlying the liberal attempt to make Christianity “relevant” is that for everyone to whom Christianity is “made relevant” (those who believe miracles are unscientific), there are likely thousands for whom it is made irrelevant. For, indeed, the liberal version of Christianity lacks an authentic spirituality to help people and give them hope in the midst of life’s problems. Former liberal Christian Alister McGrath said that, among other things, liberalism’s “pastoral weakness became especially evident to me.” He said “liberalism had little to offer in the midst of the harsh pastoral realities of unemployment, illness, and death.”

In addressing the spiritual bankruptcy of liberalism, you can use the liberal’s recognition of God’s love as a launch-pad to emphasize that God loved humankind so much that He sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross to rescue humankind from hell. Be sure to note that Jesus – love incarnate – spoke of God’s wrath and the reality of hell in a more forceful way than any of His disciples ever did (see, e.g., Matt. 25:46). Hence, God’s love is not incompatible with the reality of hell. Jesus affirmed that His mission of love was to provide atonement for human sin (for which there is plenty of empirical evidence in our world) by His sacrificial death on the cross (Mark 10:45; John 12:23-27).

Inform the liberal that if he or she really wants to experience the love of God, the place to begin is a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Then tell him or her about your relationship with Jesus. There’s no better way to close a discussion with a liberal Christian than by giving your testimony, focusing on how your personal relationship with Jesus has changed your life forever.

(This article was originally published as an “Effective Evangelism” article in the Christian Research Journal.)

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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.
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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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